References to “Evolution” Removed from Arizona Education Standards

Date: March 2018

Agency: AZ, State

Explanation: Interference with Education

Scientist: Other

In March 2018, a draft of new science education standards, developed by a committee of teachers, was revised by the Arizona Department of Education. The revisions appear to be intended to prevent or limit the teaching of evolution in Arizona schools. Several sections discussing evolution were removed or changed in ways that critics say will allow teachers greater flexibility to present evolution as a controversial topic on scientists disagree. For example, parts of the standard for high school life science students were changed as follows:


* See page 69 of the March 2018 draft of the Arizona Science Standards.

Media reports suggest that the Department of Education does not usually make such substantive revisions to draft standards. In the past, the Department has reportedly only made minor changes, such as correcting grammar.

The more substantive changes were reportedly directed by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, who has endorsed the teaching of “intelligent design” along with evolution. The theory of “intelligent design,” which is unproven, asserts that the universe and living things were created by some intelligent entity and cannot have arisen through an undirected process such as natural selection.

UpdateOn October 22, 2018, adopted new science education standards requiring the teaching of evolution. The standards expressly acknowledge that “the unity and diversity of organisms, living and extinct, is the result of evolution.”