Intelligently Designed Science Courses?

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It's not the first time suggestions of Intelligent Design have floated around the Michigan Board of Education. But Tuesday, that talk ended. The board rejected the state's bid to include language in its high school science preamble that may have opened doors to teaching creationism.

"The last minute attempt by legislature to introduce language that facilitated the teaching of Intelligent Design and creationism was inappropriate scientifically and luckily the board recognized that today," said biology professor Dr. Gregory Forbes.

The board did, however, change the preamble to stress the importance of critical thinking and questioning in high school science classes. It also adopted a national standard of what needs to be taught.

"Today is a big deal, a big day," said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. "It's about clarity on what is biology, clarity on what is physics, [and] clarity on what is chemistry."

Before this decision, there were no statewide guidelines on high school science content. Now, teachers and students will not get credit for class work unless it follows the standards set by NAEP.

"Detroit teachers will be teaching the same thing as St. Johns," Flanagan said. "Teachers are going to use this content, but they're going to be able to teach it how they think is appropriate."

At Lansing's Sexton High School, students are already geared towards a strong science curriculum. But teacher Jeffrey Farell says the new content expectations are welcome.

"I definitely think it's a good thing. We have students who move from one district to the next, and if there's some continuity there, if we're all teaching the same thing, I think it makes it easier for the students."

The changes are in part meant to catapult Michigan back into the biotech community.