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Leave evolution out of standards, Bush says

The governor does not think the theory belongs in the state's school science standards; a spokesman later says he is not against teaching it.

Published December 28, 2005

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has portrayed himself as a friend of science, going so far as to spearhead a deal to bring an arm of the prestigious Scripps Research Institute to South Florida.

But don't count on him to defend one of the pillars of modern science.

Bush said last week he did not think Darwin's theory of evolution needed to be part of the state's public school science standards, according to an account in the Miami Herald.

"I think people have different points of view and they can be discussed in school," Bush said. "They don't need to be in the curriculum."

Bush's comments came in response to reporters' questions about a court ruling in Pennsylvania on intelligent design, which holds that life on Earth is too complicated to have been created by chance.

On Tuesday, Bush spokesman Russell Schweiss clarified Bush's position somewhat: Evolution "is a scientific theory and he's not opposed to it being taught in classrooms," Schweiss said. "But he doesn't think it should necessarily be dictated in the standards."

Florida's science standards do not mention evolution by name but do reference some of its core principles. They were slated to be reviewed next year, but state education officials decided a few weeks ago to postpone the process until 2007 or 2008.

Bush, a Catholic who personally believes God created life on Earth, also thinks science teachers should have some discretion to discuss "any scientific theory," Schweiss said.

But he did not know whether Bush would put intelligent design in that category, and Bush has refused to comment on the issue.

[Last modified December 28, 2005, 10:24:40]

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