The curriculum change was approved unanimously on Thursday by the Alabama State Board of Education after a 40-member committee, including people with strong religious beliefs, according to science specialist for the state education agency, Michal Robinson, created the new standards while considering Alabama’s religious beliefs. (The state carries disclaimer stickers on science textbooks that say evolution is a “controversial theory.”)
In an interview Robinson said, “We still have to teach what the science is. If students want to go into a science field in college or beyond, they have to have a foundation."
Now the new rules don’t require students to believe in either evolution or climate change, just that they understand these concepts. Teachers will have to address climate change for the first time since the state’s science standards were last set in 2005.
Curiously enough, Alabama’s current standard states students "should understand the nature of evolutionary theories," but it isn't required. The new standard reads,
According to officials, a committee reviewing science texts may consider whether the sticker disclaimers should be removed or altered. The new standards will go into effect in 2016.