, Corbin, KY

Local News

August 14, 2012

State lawmakers want evolution taught as theory, not fact

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis

CNHI News Service

Some Kentucky lawmakers are up in arms about an end-of-course exam for high school biology students which they contend requires the teaching of the theory of evolution as “fact.”

During a meeting of the Interim Committee on Education, some Republican lawmakers told representatives of the ACT Educational Services, which designed the test, that Kentucky does not want to teach evolution as fact.

“There is no science to it,” said Ben Waide, R-Madisonville. “There is just no scientific evidence to support evolution as scientific fact. But if you hear it over and over enough, you think it’s true.”

Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, the general manager of a Christian radio station, said he’s done “a lot of research on” the subject. He said that research bolsters his belief in the “irreducible complexity” of the universe and he objects to teaching evolution as fact.

“My concern is our students are indoctrinated into one way of thinking without any sort of intellectual freedom,” Wilson said. “The evidence doesn’t support evolution.”

Ginger Hopkins, vice-president of ACT Educational Services, told the lawmakers the test is designed to measure high school students’ readiness for college biology courses and that is done by asking college professors what those students need to know to take their college courses. She said ACT takes no position on the question of evolution.

Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, asked if lawmakers had any say in the design or inclusion of questions on the test. Hopkins said ACT can design a Kentucky specific test if that is what lawmakers want, but again said the test, as currently worded, reflects what college professors teach and expect students to understand.

“I presume you’ve heard this from other states as well, haven’t you?” asked Givens.

“Very rarely,” said Sara Clough of ACT.

“It’s just not that common, really,” added Hopkins. Both answers seemed to surprise the lawmakers.

Committee Chairman Sen. Ken Winters, R-Murray, said the questions were prompted by calls the senators received from teachers who complained the wording of the test “requires them to teach evolution as a fact.” Winters said he hasn’t seen the test question. “I rely on the teachers.”

But Terry Holliday, Kentucky Commissioner of Education, told the committee, “We believe the assessment (test) and the studies within this assessment are based on evolution as a theory, not as fact.”

He also said he has communicated that to several superintendents who posed the same question lawmakers were asking. He later provided a copy of a lengthy e-mail to Hart County Superintendent Ricky Line in which he explained the meaning of the word “theory” in science as “a very precise term” used to describe “a wide variety of independent observations.”

In the email Holliday says the everyday use of the word “theory” by non-scientists to describe an “idea” which the speaker views as “little more than a guess” is substantially different than what a scientist means by the word.

Sen. Vernie McGaha, R-Russell Springs, a retired educator, asked the ACT representatives why creationism “can’t be treated the same” as the theory of evolution. Hopkins again answered that the goal of ACT is to design tests to reflect what high school graduates will be expected to know when they enter college.

McGaha said if the test isn’t changed, “this is going to cause a lot of furor in this state.”

After the meeting, Holliday said the courts have consistently ruled that creationism is a religious concept or belief and not science, so it can’t be taught as science.

That was also the point of Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, the House Education Committee Chairman. He said “there’s a lot of science in it” (evolution) and it should be taught in science classes while other theories of the universe which are more religious in concept should be taught in comparative religion courses — not in science courses.

Holliday told the committee he would like a follow-up meeting with the committee “to discuss the science.”

Winters later said lawmakers won’t object to the test so long as it’s made clear to students that evolution is only a theory and not a fact.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

Text Only
Local News
  • Couple pleads not guilty to abuse

    A Knox County couple facing charges in connection with second-degree burns on a child’s leg pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning during their preliminary hearings.
    Tyrone L. Person, 22, of Corbin, and Sierra Shepherd, 21, of Flat Lick, appeared before Judge John Chappell in Knox County District Court, according to a court official.

    July 23, 2014

  • Evaluation of Williamsburg Superintendent postponed

    An executive session to discuss and evaluate Williamsburg Independent Schools Superintendent Denny Byrd was slated for Tuesday night’s regular meeting — but an absence of one member postponed those plans.

    July 23, 2014

  • 0723 Capt. Coy Wilson, Harrison Creech & mom Samantha FOR WEB.jpg Heroes For A Day

    This boy likes to touch a truck — or in this case, the Corbin Police Department’s K9 Vehicle that was one of over 20 trucks, cars, boats, a helicopter and other vehicles stationed Tuesday at Corbin’s Rotary Park for the Sixth Annual “Touch A Truck” event.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIBROC: Just Lose It finalists announced

    The 20 finalists who will move on to the 4th Annual NIBROC: Just Lose It weight loss competition have been announced.

    July 23, 2014

  • NIBROC releases Kids Activities schedule

    We’re just over two weeks away from the 62nd Annual NIBROC Festival, and now, the schedule of kids activities for the fest is set in stone.

    July 23, 2014

  • Tri-County water treatment plants exceed quality standards

    Thirsty? If so, the Tri-County has some good water to offer to quench that thirst — that’s according to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, which announced that 61 drinking water treatment plants across the state consistently produced drinking water last year that exceeded state and federal water quality standards.

    July 23, 2014

  • Corbin woman appointed to Ky. Board of Education

    A former Corbin Board of Education member has been appointed to the Kentucky Board of Education.

    July 23, 2014

  • POLICE ROUNDUP: Man admits to having sex with minor

    London City Police arrested a man Monday for having sexual relations with a minor, according to London City Police Chief Derek House.

    July 23, 2014

  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 23, 2014

    Couple pleads not guilty to abuse

    W’burg Supt. evaluation postponed

    NIBROC: Just Lose It finalists announced

    NIBROC releases Kids Activities schedule

    Corbin woman appointed to Ky. Board of Education

    Tri-County water treatment plants exceed quality standards

    Man admits to having sex with minor

    July 23, 2014

  • 0722 Mike Corey & David Thompson FOR WEB.jpg David Thompson to run again

    The mayor’s race in Barbourville will have a familiar name on the November ballot.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter