States and the Teaching of Evolution

Many long years have passed since the Scopes trial, but even in the 21st century we still have people who do not believe in the theory of evolution. Even though practically every scientist and the vast majority of adults accept evolution as a base of scientific knowledge, pockets of religious people vote against religion as a way to maintain the literal interpretation of the Bible.

Here is a summary of US states and evolution, starting as a base with the 2000 Fordham report that evaluated schools on how well they taught evolution. Most states in the US teach all information about evolution, covering the biologic, geologic and societal changes our world have been through.

Six states do very poorly at education. These are:

Alaska - barely mentions evolution

Arkansas - barely mentions evolution, does not mention how humans changed over time. In 2001, bill 2548 instructed teachers to emphasize that evolution and other scientific beliefs were "only a theory".

Illinois - avoid evolution altogether in biology.

Kentucky - avoid evolution altogether in biology.

Virginia - barely mentions evolution.

Wisconsin - While their curriculum is poor, they do defend evolution. A schoolteacher tried to teach his students creationism in 1998, saying that evolutionism was not an accepted scientific principal. He was fired.


Another 13 states are even worse at preparing their students for college. They are:

Alabama - In 2000, refers only to change over time. Has sticker in all books using flawed creationist arguments. Post-report, they updated to include the word evolution. and in 2001 changed the sticker text to be slightly more evolution-friendly. In Feb 04 the "Academic Freedom Act" was introduced, to allow teachers to teach whatever they wanted to.

Florida - Refers only to change over time

Georgia - tried in 2004 to remove word evolution completely

Kansas - In 2000, Kansas was the worst state in the union for evolution, teaching completely invalid ideas. In 2001 they slightly upgraded, now including the term evolution.

Maine - I can't seem to find ANY information about Maine's stand!

Mississippi - only slight references for geology. Two bills were introduced in 2002 to give curriculum time to creationism, but they were defeated.

New Hampshire - while they are not very good about evolution, they did vote down a bill to limit evolution teaching in 2001.

North Dakota - Refers only to change over time.

Ohio - In 2000, referred only to change over time. In Dec 2002, they have upgraded to a level that many consider excellent, and now fully discuss evolution.

Oklahoma - Refers only to biological adaptation. Tried disclaimer sticker in 1999 but attorney general shut them down. Two sticker bills were introduced in 2003 and narrowly failed.

Tennessee - In 2000, slight mention in geologic terms. Since then they have upgraded to discuss evolution in biology, but in 2003 they rejected textbooks that mentioned evolution but not creationism.

West Virginia - In 2000, slight mention in cosmology. Since then they have upgraded to discuss evolution in biology. In 2003, they had very strong evolutionary content and explicitly fought off creationists who wanted equal time for "intelligent design".

Wyoming - The schoolboard in 2003 almost voted to include creationism alongside evolution, but it was defeated.

Special mention goes to Missouri, which did reasonably well on the Fordham report but in early 2004 filed a bill requiring equal time for "Intelligent Design" whenever evolution was taught. Thousands of educators have spoken out against this proposed change.

Fordham 2000 Report on Evolution

Lisa's Biology Pages