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Teaching Of Evolution Challenged Senator Wants Disclaimer Placed In Science Textbooks

Fri., Jan. 16, 1998, midnight

Since no one was present when life first appeared on Earth, a state senator says science textbooks in Washington schools should be amended to indicate that human evolution is just a theory.

Sen. Harold Hochstatter, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, introduced a bill this week that would insert “a message from the Washington State Legislature” into science texts purchased with state money.

Hochstatter, R-Moses Lake, wrote in his bill that there are many unanswered questions about the origin of life that aren’t addressed in science texts.

His proposed statement to clarify the issue begins:

“This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants, animals and humans.

“No one was present when life first appeared on Earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.”

Terry Bergeson, the Democratic state schools superintendent, said she wishes lawmakers who keep trying to tinker with education curricula would instead focus on helping teachers implement reforms approved in recent years.

“They’ve got to stop micro-managing education,” Bergeson said Thursday. “If we want the kids to learn, we’ve got to respect and help the teachers.”

Hochstatter’s bill had not been assigned a number Thursday.

The medical marijuana bill, Senate Bill 6271, was offered by Sen. Jeanne Kohl as a narrower version of the ballot initiative that was rejected by Washington voters last fall.

Kohl’s bill would provide legal immunity to patients who use marijuana, physicians who recommend it and pharmacists who provide it. The bill also would create a campaign to inform youth that marijuana use is illegal, except in cases involving authorized use by seriously ill people under a physician’s care.

xxxx OTHER BILLS SB 6340: Bans commercial telephone solicitation after 5 p.m. SB 6339: Declares English as Washington’s official language. HB 2585: Makes it a felony if a pregnant woman “recklessly causes great bodily harm” to her unborn child by using drugs or alcohol. HB 2594: Requires health plans to cover contraceptive drugs or devices.

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