Alabama is updating its decade-old science standards to require that students understand evolution and learn about climate change, topics that can still be controversial in the Bible Belt state.
Educators say the new rules — part of a major change that includes more experimentation and hands-on instruction and less lecturing — don't require that students believe in evolution or accept the idea that climate is changing globally.
But public school students will be required for the first time to understand the theory of evolution. And teachers will be required to address climate change, which wasn't a focus the last time the state set science standards in 2005.
The new standards take effect in 2016 after being unanimously approved by the Republican-controlled Alabama State Board of Education on Thursday.
This may seem like a small step, and indeed it is, but since it is taking place in Alabama it is also noteworthy.
However just in case you thought that the Christian Right had caved in altogether, there is still this:
Textbooks used in Alabama science classes have carried a disclaimer sticker for years stating that evolution is a "controversial theory," not fact, and the new course of study doesn't change the warnings, which were advocated by Christian conservatives.
Like I said it IS Alabama.
Oh well, baby steps are still steps in the right direction.