COLUMBIA - South Carolina has forgone a proposal to have students learn "the controversy."

The State Board of Education met on Wednesday to discuss, among several issues, proposed language that required biology students construct scientific arguments that seem to support and seem to discredit Darwinism.

The language was proposed by Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, who argued in past hearings against teaching natural selection as fact, adding that there are other theories students deserve to learn. Fair - a member of the Education Oversight Committee - insisted in April that South Carolina had to "teach the controversy."

"There's another side," Fair said in April. "I'm not afraid of the controversy ... That's the way most of us learn best."

Despite the continued debate for months, however, nothing happened. The board rejected the EOC's proposal. Because the parties can't agree, the state keeps the language based on its 2005 standards.

"I was fairly confident that we would prevail," said Rob Dillon, a College of Charleston biology professor and president of South Carolinians for Science Education. "I was very gratified by the support for rigorous science education that came from the State Board of Education."

Dillon has been driving from Charleston to Columbia every time the standards were up for discussion to speak against what he called part of an effort to sneak creationism into public schools.

"The improvements we have made include adding engineering, inquiry-based learning, and helping students use science in ways that they can use in their everyday lives," said Superintendent of Education Mick Zais. "We should be proud of these new standards and move forward as one team to successfully implement them."

Reach Cynthia Roldan at 708-5891.