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Science Testimony Given Before the Senate by Dr. Karen Effrem

January 28, 2004

Thank you Mister Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is Dr. Karen Effrem. I am here as a taxpayer, mother of two 2 school- age children and as a pediatrician on behalf of EdWatch, formerly the Maple River Education Coalition. EdWatch represents thousands of parents, teachers, business people and others across the state who have fought tirelessly for 6 years for the repeal of the Profile of Learning. We want to see the job finished with the implementation of strong knowledge based, content rich academic standards in science and social studies.

I'll begin by thanking and commending the committee for their hard work. Overall, the standards are scientific, knowledge based and content rich. There are a small, but significant minority of standards or benchmarks, however, which have problems in several areas. These areas include unbalanced environmentalism, multiculturalism, lack of objectivity and or measurability, and uncritically teaching evolution as fact.

Despite these problems, EdWatch is willing to compromise and accept these standards as they are with the exception of adding the minority report regarding the teaching of evolution. We do not see this as tinkering or opening up the standards for several very important reasons.

First, the minority report is very moderate, compromise language that will bring Minnesota's standards in line with the Santorum language of the conference report of No Child Left Behind. There is some good language in the History and Nature of Science section of the standards that the majority of the committee believes will fulfill the Santorum language. However, there is nothing in the Life Science section, the only subject required of every Minnesota student to graduate from high school that allows any discussion of the scientific criticisms of Darwinian theory, arguably the most controversial topic in science. Congress is particularly concerned to see that this provision of the law is being correctly implemented and to that end, Congressman Souder's subcommittee of the Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing on February 3rd to examine the topic.

In addition, Federal law says that the standards must be secular, neutral and non-ideological. Teaching only one side of a very scientifically controversial issue like evolution is certainly not neutral or non-ideological and there are some that would argue that clinging to one set of ideas without acknowledging other science or allowing other discussion is religious zealotry at its worst.

The Profile repeal bill that was passed by this body says that the standards must be objective and measurable. How is it objective if only one side of an issue is taught? As a physician, if I hadn't been taught the pros and cons of medical tests, procedures and drugs, my patients would have suffered. Don't we want the future physicians, engineers and scientists of Minnesota to have a balanced, objective, and well rounded science education??

Last and certainly not least, without the minority report, the document would not be internally consistent. Even the National Standards admit that the "data and understanding are incomplete" regarding evolution, but there is no evidence of that in the draft. The History and Nature of Science section says, "Students will be able to explain how scientific innovations and new evidence can challenge accepted theories and models, including cell theory, atomic theory, theory of evolution, plate tectonic theory, germ theory of disease, Big Bang theory. (9-12.I.A.1.b)" This is a very important and reasonable benchmark. But the life science benchmarks say things like, "The student will use scientific evidence, including the fossil record, homologous structures, embryological development or biochemical similarities, to classify organisms in order to show probable evolutionary relationships and common ancestry." There is absolutely no mention anywhere in life science of ANY scientific controversy or inconsistency in any of these areas that contradict common ancestry. The science standards disregard any scientific evidence that conflicts with the theory of evolution by calling it non-science or the injection of religion into science and diminishes academic freedom for teachers that do want to give a more rounded view. This is a completely unscientific approach to learning. The standards do not cover any of the multiple scientific flaws with Darwinism such as the ones I found with a little bit of research. Experts in this area have written many books on the same subject.

In summary, EdWatch supports adoption of the science standards as written with the addition of the minority report to provide internal consistency and consistency with state and federal law. Thank you for your time.

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