OHIO ANTI-EVOLUTION MODEL CURRICULUM CONTROVERSY

The Ohio Department of Education Model Curriculum or Lesson Plan,
"Critical Analysis of Evolution--Grade 10,"
discussed in many of the news articles below is available at
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/academic_content_standards/sciencesboe/pdf_setA/L10-H23_Critical_Analysis_of_Evolution_Mar_SBOE_changes.pdf
or
HERE.

Please read the Texas Citizens for Science Analysis of the
Ohio "Critical Analysis of Evolution--Grade 10" Model Curriculum (ready soon).

Science standards set, but the teaching is still evolving

Scott Stephens
Cleveland Plain Dealer
December 29, 2002
(No URL available)

To Ron Stewart, the new standards for teaching science in Ohio's schools offer an endorsement of evolution and a rebuke of intelligent design.

"I feel very strongly that we need to teach evolution in the biology classroom and that we probably do not need to talk about intelligent design," said Stewart, a biology teacher at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Stow.

"If we were to teach a controversy, it would be a controversy about such things as the pace of evolution, rather than whether evolution did occur."

To Bryan Leonard, those same science standards give him the green light to teach ideas critical of Darwin's theory.

"The idea is to increase students' knowledge of evolution," said Leonard, a biology teacher at Hilliard Davidson High School near Columbus.

"Showing them the controversies of evolution can help us achieve this goal. "I've often found that students are more interested in the controversy."

Two high school biology teachers. Two interpretations.

Despite the State Board of Education's Dec. 10 adoption of the new set of science standards, the question of how best to teach Ohio's 1.8 million public-school students about the origin and development of life on Earth is far from settled.

It took the board 12 months to fashion a compromise that strikes a delicate balance between teaching evolution and teaching concepts that are opposed to the scientific theory. Wary that their words would be misread, the board members added a caveat stating that they did not endorse intelligent design - the idea that life is too complex to have developed by chance and must have been guided by a higher power.

But it may take a little longer to see how those carefully crafted words play out in Ohio's classrooms.

It's true that the state's standardized academic-proficiency tests, including the new Ohio Graduation Test students will soon take in 10th grade, are predicated on uniform academic standards statewide. But it's important to remember that schools are controlled locally, and the 612 individual boards of education have great say about what is taught, how it is taught and what textbooks are used in classrooms.

"It's a local-control state, and local districts reflect their community," said Lynn Elfner, who heads the pro-evolution group of educators and scientists called the Ohio Academy of Science.

The standards identify subjects that students should learn and establish the grade levels at which those subjects should be taught. The state board's adoption of them was the first step in revamping classroom instruction.

The next step -- writing a science curriculum -- will give teachers guidelines on how to teach those subjects in accord with the demands of the standardized tests. A committee appointed by the state Department of Education will begin that process early in the coming year.

"This will be very controversial -- maybe even more so [than the standards]," predicted state board of education member Martha Wise of Avon.

Some of her board colleagues said they will keep a sharp eye on the team that is assembled to write that curriculum.

Among them is Michael Cochran of the Columbus suburb of Blacklick. Cochran favored including ideas contrary to evolution in the science standards and said the team put together to write the science standards was stacked with pro-evolutionists. He wants to see more diversity of opinion on the curriculum team.

As the state board wrestles with the next step, students and teachers are already beginning to examine how the new standards will affect them. Just before Christmas, scores of student debaters from across Northeast Ohio gathered at Shaker Heights High School for a two-day tournament. This year's debate subject: intelligent design.

Earlier this month, Case Western Reserve University sponsored a workshop for high-school biology teachers on teaching life's origins in the classroom.

Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, told the teachers not to be fooled by anti-evolutionists who have attacked science textbooks as being biased and factually incorrect.

"They want to deprive teachers of some of the best teaching tools," Scott told the group. "Don't hesitate to use them."

Intelligent-design advocates are also encouraging teachers to exercise academic freedom and challenge the tenets of evolution.

Already, the American Civil Liberties Union has said it is prepared to take to court local districts that teach intelligent design because it is a form of creationism, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled can't be taught in public schools because doing so blurs the separation of church and state.

"They don't have a leg to stand on," retorted Bruce Chapman, founder and president of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, the nation's leading intelligent-design proponent. "There's no religion in this. But it's easier to tell a teacher not to teach this kind of thing than to have a lawsuit. That's called intimidation."

The debate, of course, will not end in Ohio. In 2003, Texas will be ordering a half-million new biology textbooks. Pro- and anti-evolution forces are expected to duke it out this summer over what those textbooks say about teaching origins of life.

Then there is Kansas. The state made headlines across the world in 1999 by largely deleting evolution from its science standards. Although a state education board later restored evolution, anti-evolution forces reclaimed several board seats in the last election.

As was the case in Ohio, educators and policymakers in those states will have to wrestle with the ageless balance between science and religion, faith and knowledge.

"I believe that God created life," said Wise, the Ohio board member who strongly opposed including intelligent design in the standards. "But there is also a set of processes identified with the study of science. I can meld the two theories."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: sstephens@plaind.com, 216-999-4827


OPINION

Ohio faces a new challenge in intelligent-design debate

Lawrence M. Krauss and Patricia Princehouse
Cleveland Plain Dealer
November 24, 2003
http://www.cleveland.com/search/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1069583465270033.xml?ocoth

Two weeks ago, the Texas State School Board decided to leave biology texts alone. It won't require that textbooks in the state be altered to include discussions of intelligent design. Scientists and teachers throughout the country were heartened by the decision. "Intelligent design" is an ill-defined and thus far unscientific notion that somehow, via unspecified supernatural mechanisms, living things must have been designed to be the way they are.

We in Ohio are, of course, familiar with this debate. Organizations that oppose modern evolutionary biology on religious grounds attempted to alter new proposed life-science benchmarks; they wanted the intelligent design concept inserted into the state science standards. Note that the Supreme Court had already ruled that ID's ancestor, "creation science," is not science but religion. The 1987 ruling also included the concept of creation by an "intelligent mind."

It was a great victory for science education in this state that instead, for the first time ever, the word evolution appeared in the standards in the context of biology. There is no requirement to teach intelligent design creationism.

There was a snag, however. The following "indicator" was inserted into the standards: "Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." Taken literally, this statement would require teaching of cutting-edge evolutionary biology. Yet many, including us, were concerned that those who are trying to force intelligent design creationism into the curriculum would claim this statement opened the gate.

So, the board clarified: "The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design."

One might have hoped the matter would have ended there. Unfortunately, this issue has come back with a vengeance. A copy of a draft curriculum approved for field-testing and public comment in the state has been leaked. The Department of Education board approved this draft in September but withheld it from public scrutiny. We now understand why.

Consider the lesson plan associated with "allowing students to critically analyze nine aspects of evolutionary theory." One might have hoped that the students would be presented with, say, a rousing discussion of the vigorous controversy over how closely related dinosaurs are to birds.

They could then understand how predictions of evolutionary biology produced by the scientific community through decades of hard work and research have met all apparent challenges and led to substantial scientific progress.

Instead, students are required to "debate" each "challenge" as if they were in a government or English class, with some students required to take a position contradicting the results established by decades of sound science. There is little pedagogical value in requiring students to take positions that evidence has shown to be incorrect. Indeed, it is not clear that it is ethical. At the very least it would demoralize any students who took the debate seriously. Imagine forcing some young person to debate that the Holocaust never happened or that certain racial groups are inferior as a way of teaching them the fallacy of these notions.

Equally important, this process sheds no light on how "scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze" evolution. Science does not convene debates about well-established results. Rather, predictions of a theory such as evolution are compared to the data. If apparently anomalous data is uncovered, different groups of scientists will analyze and even debate it to judge if the results really are discrepant. But if they have been shown not to be, as is the case with all nine challenges promoted in the proposed curriculum, we don't waste our time rehashing old issues. We move on. That's how science works!

What's more, the nine supposed "challenges" to evolution come straight out of intelligent design creationism. A main source listed in the curriculum is the discredited book "Icons of Evolution," by the Rev. Jonathan Wells, one of the Discovery Institute authors who came to Ohio to promote teaching intelligent design.

Especially ridiculous is the ninth so-called "challenge" on the natural selection of peppered moths. This is Dr. Wells' favorite hobbyhorse in his self-declared war on Darwin. Particularly ludicrous is the claim that the well-supported observations of moth populations darkening over time in response to selective forces (a.k.a. microevolution), somehow represent a challenge to macroevolution (the formation of new species, called speciation). But no evolutionary biologist claims that the peppered moths did speciate. There are, however, well-documented cases of speciation in the laboratory that support macroevolution.

It is unfair to our children to waste their time in science classes on unfair and disingenuous debates in which one side is guaranteed to lose on the basis of existing data - debates that seem interesting only if one is ignorant of this data.

Why insert such red herrings into the curriculum?

The answer can only be that special-interest groups want to sneak intelligent design in the back door, because they cannot enter it the honest way, by submitting their ideas to critical analysis by otherwise disinterested scientists. These individuals are violating the express intent of the Ohio Board of Education that voted on the state standards.

Appropriate action must be taken now to ensure that they do not continue their attempts to subvert science education. Texas, West Virginia and many other states have successfully fought back these attacks. Ohio must too.

Krauss is Ambrose Swasey Professor and chair of physics at Case Western Reserve University. Princehouse teaches evolutionary biology at Case.


Science standards debate continues evolving in Ohio

Scott Stephens
Cleveland Plain Dealer
November 27, 2003
http://www.cleveland.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news/1069936295100340.xml?nohio

Some scientists say Ohio is still monkeying around with how it teaches Darwin's theory of evolution.

The state found itself under a national microscope last year while it debated, and later adopted, a set of science standards that included evolution -- the theory that living things descended from common ancestors. Those adopted standards specifically discounted "intelligent design" -- the concept that the history of life cannot be explained by natural law alone.

This fall, a select group of Ohio teachers field-tested numerous model lesson plans that grew from the standards. Schools do not have to use the lesson plans, but state proficiency tests will be based on the information they cover.

Some teachers and scientists complain that the lessons were developed without adequate public scrutiny and could not be reviewed during field testing, which ended last week. They also say that some language in the plans sounds an awful lot like intelligent design.

"If the process had been open to the public and to the scientific community, we'd have a better product," said Ohio Academy of Science Chief Executive Lynn Elfner, who battled with state education officials for weeks before getting complete copies of the lessons. "It's not the quality we expected."

The present flashpoint for debate flows from one requirement in the standards for 10th-graders: "Describe how scientists today continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

Some worry that the requirement, as implemented in the lesson plans, will give teachers and students the green light to debate and challenge bedrock scientific principals as if they were discussing "soft" disciplines such as political science or philosophy.

Others say criticisms of the model science curriculum are neither fair nor accurate. State Board of Education member Deborah Owens Fink of Peninsula said the process being used in science is identical to the one used in English, math and other subjects. Teachers, parents and others can attend meetings and provide input, she said. She added that the committee that wrote the lesson plans received specific orders to follow the intent of the academic standards.

"Lynn Elfner's own group said these were some of the best standards in the country," said Owens Fink, who had fought to include intelligent design in the standards. "Yet still this group chooses to whine about students participating in an open inquiry about evolution."

Robert Lattimer, a member of the team chosen to write Ohio's science standards and an ardent supporter of intelligent design, agreed that the evolution-only forces appear intent on stifling all debate on the issue.

"If the evidence is so strong for evolution, then why are they afraid if students debate it?" Lattimer said. "Their implication that evidence against evolution cannot be considered is just inaccurate."

When it meets next week, the 40-member committee that wrote the lessons will begin to sift through the initial feedback from teachers and decide what needs to be reshaped or eliminated. But Elfner remains skeptical about whether Ohio will end up with a solid science curriculum for its public school students.

"I hate to say it's dead in the water, but it's a wounded duck," Elfner said.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: sstephens@plaind.com, 216-999-4827


PROPOSED LESSON ON EVOLUTION UPSETS SCIENTISTS
10th-graders would debate the theory

By Mike Lafferty
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Thursday, December 4, 2003
(No URL available)

Ohio scientists are angry that a proposed lesson for the state's new science curriculum calls for high-school students to debate evolution.

The lesson, "Critical Analysis of Evolution,'' is one of 10 about evolution in the 10th-grade curriculum being prepared for the 2004-2005 school year.

Critics say the lesson suggests that students debate the overall idea of evolution -- instead of parts of it -- and provides ideas to challenge the theory. It also lists several intelligent-design and creationist Web sites.

Intelligent design is the concept that the complexity of living things required intervention by an intelligent designer, possibly God. Critics say including this concept is a way to slip biblical creationism into schools.

Many thought the fight over intelligent design would have eased when the State Board of Education last year mandated teaching evolution. It was a compromise of sorts because the decision allowed local educators to include intelligent design if they wanted to.

"The debate will never go away,'' said John Neth, who taught science at Groveport-Madison High School for 30 years and is a former science adviser for the state Department of Education.

"It will just be hashed back and forth.''

Neth said scientists don't think that every part of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is exact, but they argue that certainly doesn't mean the alternative is intelligent design.

A state school board member, however, defended the proposed lesson.

"I don't see how anyone could infer anything but science in there,'' said Deborah Owens-Fink, a marketing professor at the University of Akron.

The 35-member writing committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. today and Friday at the University Plaza Hotel, 3110 Olentangy River Rd., to review comments and consider changes.

In its December 2002 announcement, the state school board also required that students be taught how scientists critically analyze all aspects of evolutionary theory.

While the board did not say that intelligent design must be taught, it also did not forbid it.

Some proponents, including Owens-Fink and fellow state board member Michael Cochran of Franklin County, wanted the standards to include intelligent design.

"I would have preferred that we include in the lessons and the state benchmarks that some scientists are doing work in intelligent design,'' Owens-Fink said. "That did not happen. Most Ohioans wanted it.''

Cochran said last year that the state board intended that students critically examine basic evolutionary theory.

Scientists, however, say that goes too far.

They insist that students should understand that Darwin's theory has been tested and revised over time. For instance, the idea of whether evolution occurs gradually or in rapid bursts is still debated.

This sort of debate, they say, doesn't mean the entire theory should be called into question.

"There are outstanding issues where we can't understand things. Those aspects are useful for students to understand,'' said Case Western Reserve physicist Lawrence Krauss. "But (this lesson) involves direct attacks on the theory that have long ago been discounted.''

This lesson does not reflect the board's science standard, according to Lynn Elfner, executive director of the Ohio Academy of Science.

"The current suspect lesson plan that asks teachers to 'teach the controversy' still goes back to the nature of the controversy. Is it science or religion?'' he said.

The state board will vote on the proposals that include evolution lessons in March. A total of 200 science lessons for K-12 must be ready by July.

The department also parceled out the lessons, a few to each reviewer, a method Owens-Fink said was necessary because the entire lesson plan involved thousands of pages.

Elfner said he was given several evolution lessons but had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the entire draft lesson plan.

"The department has pretty much hidden these documents from the public,'' he said.

mlafferty@dispatch.com


Creationism back in state science lessons, critics say
Evolution dispute reignites on state board

Catherine Candisky
The Columbus Dispatch
Thursday, February 05, 2004
(No URL available)

State school board President Jennifer L. Sheets denies that intelligent design is creeping into new science lessons. Debate has again erupted about what public-school students are taught about Darwin's theory of evolution, with some scientists saying that creationism has found its way into state guidelines. The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote Tuesday on lesson plans to complement grade-by-grade science standards enacted more than a year ago. Schools don't have to follow the guidelines, but state proficiency tests will be based on them.

Ohio attracted international attention in 2002 when the state board debated whether science standards should include "intelligent design," the concept that certain life forms are too complex to be explained by evolution and that some unknown intelligence must have been involved. Ultimately, the board chose to include only evolution with a disclaimer that the standards do not "mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design." Some scientists and board members say the proposed lesson plans ignore that requirement and include the nonscientific views of supporters of intelligent design.

"It's junk," said Sam Schloemer, a Cincinnati board member who called for the resignation of Michael Cochran, co-chairman of the board's standards committee. That panel is working on the lesson plans.

Last week, Schloemer asked Gov. Bob Taft to intervene, saying the committee has ignored the concerns of numerous scientists who have complained that the lesson plans are "faulty." "Most people who have a relationship with God will not disagree with the concept of an intelligent designer, but will strongly disagree when it is incorporated into a science curriculum," Schloemer wrote in a Jan. 26 letter to Taft.

Cochran, of Columbus, did not return a message left at his office yesterday seeking comment. James L. Turner, a board member from Cincinnati, responded in a letter to Schloemer earlier this week, criticizing him for taking the issue to Taft and defending the work of the standards committee.

"We had settled this," said Martha W. Wise, a board member from Avon and leading critic of intelligent design. "We agreed that (the standards) would not mandate the learning and testing of intelligent design, yet here we are with a document that includes all the arguments of the intelligent-design advocates." Wise said she believes efforts to get intelligent design into the classroom have been re-energized as the 19-member board "has shifted to a more ultraconservative view." Board President Jennifer L. Sheets of Pomeroy disagreed, saying the board remains "absolutely" committed to the science standards adopted in December 2002, which state that schools are not mandated to teach intelligent design.

The debate appears to stem from a requirement in the standards for 10 th-graders to "describe how scientists today continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." Patricia Princehouse, a professor of evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University, said there's nothing wrong with the requirement. The problem is that intelligent design gets support in parts of proposed lesson plans, she said. Deborah Owens Fink, a board member from Richfield and supporter of intelligent design, said "some of these scientists are so paranoid, they don't understand it."

"It's ridiculous," she said. "There is nothing about intelligent design in the lesson itself. I wish there had been, but the board didn't take that perspective."

ccandisky@dispatch.com


OPINION

Creationists seeking subtle entrance to science classes

Steve Rissing
Columbus Dispatch
February 6, 2004
http://www.dispatch.com/editorials-story.php?story=dispatch/2004/02/06/20040206-A11-00.html

Creationists again are trying to push their views into Ohio's public school science classrooms -- this time, through the back door.

number of Ohio science teachers, myself included, were asked recently by the Ohio Department of Education to review lessons it is developing to assist teachers and their students to prepare for the Ohio Graduation Test.

That test and the model lessons for review are based on the Ohio sciencecontent standards that were passed by the State Board of Education 13 months ago. Some board members advocated inclusion of intelligent-design creationism in those standards, a move eventually rejected by the board.

But such creationism nonetheless is alive in the model lessons. Attempts to again slip such nonscientific ideas into the science curriculum and the graduation test itself should raise concerns about the science education of our children.

Of the lessons I reviewed, one in particular is associated with a standard forged in 2002 as a supposed compromise requiring students to describe how scientists investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. The state board even included reassurance that this indicator did "not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design." But, somehow that hasn't stopped some lesson writers from trying to teach our children nonscientific, nontestable hypotheses in science classes.

Intelligent-design creationism was conjured as early as 1691 by the Rev. John Ray. In its current manifestation, adherents argue that some traits of organisms are so complex that they occur through the intercession of some nonphysical, mindful being, such as God or some other supernatural entity.

One of the lessons requires "critical analysis discussion" of evolution by 10 th-grade students. Such a debate format implies incorrectly that only two sides exist in research analyzing such questions in science. A debate format suggests incorrectly that alternate arguments are of equal weight and that public-school teachers should mentor students by providing them unscientific "alternatives" to good science. Further, students are to find data challenging evolution. That's a guaranteed failure for a 10 thgrader, given that no such data or experimental results exist in the scientific literature, though such red herrings abound in creationist information.

The lesson includes grading rubrics, including points assigned for courtesy and group participation during debates. But no points are assigned for authenticity of content. If extended to all sciences and the graduation test, then a hollow but wellpresented Earth-centered solar-system argument might pass, while a well-reasoned but poorly presented sun-centered one might fail.

Familiarity with current science content should count for something in a science grade. The lesson comes with a prepared script for students to follow in their debate regarding evolution. A student, for example, is to recite that in classic studies of the British peppered moth, "no new species emerged." Cool. But no one ever suggested they did.

Students are to read aloud under the guidance of their teacher that "scientists have not observed (bacterial) cells changing into organelles, such as mitochondria or chloroplasts." Of course no scientist has observed it. The science standards themselves indicate such cellular changes occurred about a billion years ago. Scientists never have observed SARS viruses entering human cells, either, but we accept those as part of an infectious-disease theory supported by other strong inference.

Given that the lesson attacks or ignores centuries of scientific endeavors and results, it is surprisingly silent about offering alternative hypotheses, especially any that are testable or have predictive power, the hallmarks of good science.

The lesson never mentions intelligent-design creationism explicitly; rather, it guides teachers and students to references and Web sites where they can discover such creationism on their own. The aspects of evolution chosen for challenge come from one of those references, an intelligent-design creationism book written by a disciple of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

In the freshman biology course I teach at Ohio State University, I link my topics to the board's science standards. Recently, I spent two class sessions on the standard that reads: "Recognize that bias affects outcomes. People tend to ignore evidence that challenges their beliefs but accept evidence that supports their beliefs. Scientists attempt to avoid bias in their work."

If we require our high-school students to recognize the blinding effects of bias in order to pass the graduation test, then we should expect the same from those preparing and adopting the curricula designed for students to pass that exam. The outcome affected by bias in lessons pending before the State Board of Education is the scientific literacy of our children and Ohio's work force.

Steve Rissing is a biology professor at Ohio State University. steverissing@hotmail.com


State board creating path for creationism

Sam Fulwood
Cleveland Plain Dealer
February 7, 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/sam_fulwood/index.ssf?/base/opinion/107615855856191.xml

Knuckle-dragging creationists -- a.k.a. proponents of "intelligent design" -- are trying to crawl back into Ohio's public schools.

They reject Darwin's theory of evolution and insist that their religious beliefs are a form of science deserving serious academic study.

After much debate and international attention, the State Board of Education made clear in 2002 that state science curriculum standards were not to "mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design."

But intelligent design proponents don't listen or learn. They packed the 19-member state school board with people sympathetic to their junk science.

In September, the state school board approved a draft of the science curriculum for field-testing and public comment. That draft requires that every facet of teaching about evolution be challenged point by point -- a clear invitation to talk about creationism.

If allowed to stand, this curriculum loophole would be a back- door pass for intelligent design to enter the schoolhouse.

In true Ohio tradition, the board shielded the draft from public scrutiny. Their efforts might have gone unnoticed if some eagle-eyed scientists hadn't been on watch for the creationists to pull a stunt like this.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on science standards that accompany grade-by-grade lesson plans.

If the board goes along with the draft curriculum, it will be a retreat from its previous decision to keep intelligent design out of the schools. It will also encourage the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based "think-tank" to continue their state-by-state jihad against real science.

The institute believes it's on a mission from God, but what it's doing is putting ideology on par with real and accepted science. The group's ultimate goal is to discredit evolution and enshrine religious instruction in public schools.

Agents for this pseudo-science are everywhere, crusading and -- thank God -- losing more often than they succeed. State school boards in Texas, West Virginia and Georgia have rejected recent efforts to put strange science in the classroom or on standardized tests.

But it requires vigilance to keep them at bay. If former President Jimmy Carter hadn't spoken out against it, Georgia schools Superintendent Kathy Cox might have allowed creationists to win a sneaky little victory.

Cox wanted to remove the word "evolution" from all textbooks and materials distributed in the state. She justified her reasoning for this backward move as trying to eliminate "a controversial buzzword" from the classroom.

Carter slapped her down.

"As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by . . . Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's students," Carter said in a written statement. "There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat earth in order to defend our religious faith."

Ohio doesn't have a Jimmy Carter to make the flat-earth forces retreat. But that shouldn't stop concerned citizens from letting their views be known.

Ohioans -- including God-fearing people like me -- ought to be intelligent enough to know that it's not a sin to keep real science in the schools.

To reach this Plain Dealer columnist: sfulwood@plaind.com, 216-999-5250


Ohio wading into debate on biology

P. Bronson
Cincinnati Enquirer
February 8, 2004
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/02/08/loc_bronson08.html

Most of what I learned in high school biology is buried in the bottom of my mental locker. But for some reason, I clearly remember those semi-creepy pictures in the chapters on evolution.

They showed embryos -- fish, salamander, human - and they all looked as much alike as The Who and the Stones. My biology textbook said they were proof that all living critters are just different fruit from the same tree of life.

But here's something they didn't tell us in biology:

"Those drawings were faked," says Joel Roadruck, who will teach one of Ohio's first classes on intelligent design on March 1, at Forest Hills Community Education. "We know now that the differences in a fertilized embryo are as great as in a fully developed organism.''

Roadruck collects examples of "evidence" of evolution. Many have been exposed as frauds -- but they are still in textbooks, which evolve slower than flatworms.

He argues that DNA and the incredible complexity of life -- especially humans - contradict Darwin. "They're teaching evolution as truth -- microbes to man. But this is not true. If they were stockbrokers, they'd be in jail" for fraud, he said.

Roadruck got interested by looking at biology books. "I found one view of the origins of life. Only evolution was being taught, when in fact a growing number of scientists support intelligent design theory.''

The state of Ohio is wading into the primordial ooze: The Ohio Board of Education is expected to sign off on a new model curriculum that asks teachers to introduce challenges to evolution in biology classes. Ohio's approach is pretty neutral. It doesn't mandate teaching of intelligent design, or go anywhere near biblical versions of creation.

Akron University biology professor Dan Ely helped write the key lesson plans, and he says they are "very balanced'' and "absolutely'' founded in credible science. "It's ridiculous not to look at the other side,'' he said.

That's the goal of Roadruck's evening classes at Turpin High School. They will examine books by scientists such as Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe and William Dembske, who dispute Darwin's theory on the origin of life and evolution. "Just take a look at the evidence and see if it's real,'' he said. "You decide for yourself.''

But that's not so easy. Ohio Board of Education member Deborah Owens-Fink of Akron says the over-reaction to even a modest challenge to evolution has been "very disturbing.'' Most of the acrimony comes from what she calls "the whiny scientists'' who oppose even a protozoa of intelligent design.

"If you support this, you are labeled a Pat Robertson, fundamentalist wacko,'' said Owens-Fink, who has taught scientific research methods at University of Akron. "What's so bizarre is that they never attack the science part, they just attack the people.''

Roadruck says evolution is the cornerstone of a worldview.

"We've been indoctrinated,'' Roadruck said. "If you teach a generation that we all evolved from pond scum, then everything is relative. There is no truth.''

In high school, I learned that in the 1600s, Galileo was forced to recant his theory that the Earth revolves around the sun.

Truth will prevail. You can't keep it buried in a locker.

E-mail pbronson@enquirer.com or call 768-8301


Lesson plans go to Board
Changes made in biology at 10-grade level

By Laura A. Bischoff
Dayton Daily News
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
http://www.daytondailynews.com/localnews/content/localnews/daily/0210science.html

COLUMBUS -- The state Board of Education is expected to approve science lesson plans today after a committee made some changes in a controversial 10th-grade biology lesson that critics say will put "intelligent design" in Ohio's science classes. The board's standards committee voted Monday to approve the science lessons, but only after making changes to the controversial Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson. The committee deleted two citations in the lesson's bibliography one that was incorrect and another that referenced work by Jonathan Wells, a noted promoter of intelligent design.

Left intact in the lesson plans are references to Web sites that the National Academy of Sciences say include information touting intelligent design. Scientists have also complained of errors in the lesson plans that form a pattern to support intelligent design.

Intelligent design is the idea that life is so complex that a higher being must have created it. Two years ago, Ohio made headlines when it considered mandating teaching intelligent design in the science classrooms. The state board adopted standards in December 2002 that did not mandate the teaching of intelligent design but did not prohibit it either.

The standards outline what Ohio's 1.8 million students need to know for proficiency tests and graduation. The state board is in the midst of approving 160 lesson plans to guide teachers in how to cover the science standards.

Board member Martha Wise, who sits on the standards committee, wanted the entire Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson thrown out, but instead the committee settled on revising the bibliography.

Lynn Elfner, executive director of the Ohio Academy of Science, called it a small victory but "we'll never be happy until we get all the creationism out of there."

Board President Jennifer Sheets said Ohio's science standards are a national model and the lessons are simply a guideline that teachers can use or not. Although the intelligent design issue has divided the 19-member state Board of Education, Sheets said, "We've done a good job on this very emotional issue."

Contact Laura A. Bischoff at (614) 224-1624


Sciences group joins fray over lesson plans

Kaye Spector and Scott Stephens
Cleveland Plain Dealer
February 10, 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1076419820131720.xml

The nation's most prestigious science organization added its voice Monday to criticism of model science lesson plans that the state school board is expected to vote on today.

Scientists are "rightfully concerned about attempts to introduce tenets of intelligent design into your state's science curriculum and instruction," Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, said in a letter Monday to Jennifer Sheets, president of the Ohio Board of Education.

The proposed lesson plans come from a set of science standards that drew national attention in 2002 while the state debated whether to include evolution theory and the concept of "intelligent design."

Evolution is the theory that living things are descended from common ancestors, while intelligent design holds that the history of life cannot be explained by natural law alone.

The state eventually adopted standards that included evolution and specifically discounted intelligent design.

Schools do not have to use the model lesson plans, but state proficiency tests will be based on the information they cover.

A 10th-grade biology lesson plan called Critical Analysis of Evolution is "of special concern," according to Alberts:

The lesson defines "theory" in a way that sounds less rigorous than scientists define the term.

It uses the terms "microevolution" and "macroevolution," which are concepts recognized by intelligent-design proponents as separate processes, though evolutionary theory makes no distinction.

It includes links to Web sites with information of a religious nature.

Intelligent-design tenets are in other lessons as well, including those dealing with the age of the Earth, the theory of continental drift and the composition of the sun, Alberts said in his letter.

"The tenets of intelligent design do not belong in science classrooms or lesson plans for science," he stated.

The state school board's Standards Committee voted 6-2 Monday to move the proposed lesson plans out of committee so the full 19-member board can vote on it today .

Martha Wise, a board member from Avon Lake, was one of the committee's two dissenting votes.

"It totally speaks to intelligent design, and intelligent design is not science," Wise said. "I would have liked to have seen the whole lesson pulled."

But other committee members who voted to move the lesson plans along - including Deborah Owens Fink of Peninsula - said the board is doing the right thing.

"Ohio has set a standard for the whole nation on how to deal with these issues," she said.

To reach these Plain Dealer reporters:
kspector@plaind.com, 216-999-3904
sstephens@plaind.com, 216-999-4827


Scientists to lobby board on biology plan

By Laura A. Bischoff
Dayton Daily News
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
http://www.daytondailynews.com/localnews/content/localnews/daily/0211science.html

COLUMBUS -- Scientists said they will pressure Ohio Board of Education members to change their minds about a controversial evolution lesson plan the board tentatively approved Tuesday.

The 10th-grade biology lesson, Critical Analysis of Evolution, contains factual errors, misrepresentations and creationism, and is likely to face a court challenge, said Patricia Princehouse, an evolutionary biology lecturer at Case Western Reserve University.

The lesson uses information from "intelligent design" Web sites and lifts concepts and inaccuracies from material published by intelligent design promoters, Princehouse and other critics said.

Intelligent design is the idea that life is so complex a higher being must have had a hand in its creation.

"The trail is clear. There is a religious motivation for this lesson and that will be challenged in court," she told the board.

The board voted 13-4 Tuesday on a resolution that it intends to adopt a group of science plans, including the controversial lesson, at its meeting in March. The board is in the process of adopting 160 science lessons, that it has grouped into five subsets. The subset with the evolution analysis was voted on Tuesday.

On Monday, a board committee removed two bibliography citations in the Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson -- one because it was incorrect and another referencing the work of Jonathan Wells, a noted promoter of intelligent design.

Two scientists -- Ted Scharf of Cincinnati and Richard Hoppe of Cleveland -- said removing the citations is tantamount to plagiarism because the lesson now uses information without crediting its source.

Ohio made international headlines two years ago when it considered including intelligent design as part of the science standards, on which graduation and proficiency tests are based. The concept did not make it into the standards, but the board did adopt language that schools should teach that scientists continue to critically analyze evolution theory.

The controversy now seems to be whether intelligent design will be part of the model lesson plans written by state education officials for teachers' use.

Supporters of intelligent design said some scientists just don't want evolutionary theory subjected to criticism.

"I think it's going to be great for science. This lesson, in my opinion, has been misunderstood. I am very familiar with intelligent design and it just is not in there," said Robert Lattimer, an intelligent design proponent and a scientist who was on the standards writing team from two years ago.

Board member James Turner of Cincinnati said, "I reject the notion that these lessons somehow advance the concept of intelligent design or even creationism."

Turner said scientists criticizing the evolution lesson were resorting to hyperbole and then likened their passion on the issue to "teenagers in the backseat" who lack perspective.

Board member Deborah Owens-Fink, another intelligent design proponent, said she expects some scientists to exert tremendous political pressure on board members through Gov. Bob Taft, scientific associations and the media.

The lessons, which are supposed to guide teachers on how to cover Ohio's standards, are due to be adopted by June.

After the vote Tuesday, Princehouse said, "It's a sad day for science in Ohio, but I do remain hopeful that we'll come to a reasonable resolution."

Lynn Elfner, executive director of the Ohio Academy of Science, and Princehouse both are optimistic the board members will change the controversial lesson before its final adoption.

Already, the National Academy of Sciences sent a letter to board President Jennifer Sheets, detailing serious concerns with the lesson plan.

"Please understand that the National Academy of Sciences and, I would contend, the vast majority of scientists, are not asking people to choose between science and religion," wrote Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy. "What concerns us is that Intelligent Design is not scientific because its ultimate tenet that life on Earth is the result of the work of some intelligent being is scientifically untestable and therefore cannot be invalidated through scientific means."

Two local board members, John Griffin of West Carrollton and Carl Wick of Centerville, voted to approve the plans.

The four votes against the resolution were Robin Hovis of Millersburg, Cyrus Richardson Jr. of Bethel, G.R. "Sam" Schloemer of Cincinnati and Jennifer Stewart of Zanesville.


State board approves evolution lesson plans criticized by scientists

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
The Associated Press [on Cleveland.com]
February 11, 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/newsflash/cleveland/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1076480944180870.xml

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Opponents of the state school board's new lesson plans on evolution expect to lobby heavily for changes before a final board vote.

The state school board voted 13-4 on Tuesday in favor of lesson plans that some scientists say continue to contain inaccurate information about evolution. Proponents say the plans are some of the country's most rigorous in favor of evolution.

The state Board of Education's preliminary vote will be followed by a final vote next month. But changes could be made up to July 1.

The Ohio Academy of Sciences will contact Gov. Bob Taft, lawmakers and board members "so they understand the significance of what they did," said Lynn Elfner, the academy's chief executive.

Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote board president Jennifer Sheets on Monday to express concerns that parts of the alternative concept of "intelligent design" were being incorporated into the plans.

Intelligent design is the idea that life is so complex that it was designed by a non-specified power.

Districts could begin developing lessons from the plans this summer and begin teaching from the material this fall, said Bob Bowers, associate superintendent for curriculum and assessment for the Department of Education.

The plans are models that educators can follow, not mandates. But they contain basic information about evolution that students will be tested on next spring.

Ohio is developing lesson plans based on new standards for what students should know about a variety of core subjects. New achievement tests will be based on the standards.

Tuesday's board vote followed an unsuccessful attempt by some members to delay the plans and send them back to a board committee for more work.

Michael Cochran, an elected board member from suburban Columbus who voted for the plans, said nothing would be gained by additional study.

"People who see weaknesses in the lesson plan will still see weaknesses," said Cochran, co-chairman of the board's standards' committees. "People who see strengths, the strengths will still be there."

James Turner, a Taft appointee from Cincinnati, said the plans include some of the nation's best science standards.

"I reject the notion that the lessons advance the concept of intelligent design or creationism," Turner said. "I believe the lessons are some of the most pro-evolution in the United States."

Patricia Princehouse, an evolutionary biologist at Case Western Reserve University, said the standards include a number of errors linked to intelligent design, such as trying to define notions of "microevolution" and "macroevolution" as separate concepts.

At issue is whether processes that lead to a subspecies of animal could ultimately lead to an entirely new species, she said. Scientists believe the two concepts overlap, she said

The information is contained in a section involving a "critical analysis" of evolution, one of nine evolution lesson plans. Scientists don't oppose the information in the other eight plans, Princehouse said.

Taft, a Republican, will not get involved in the board's decision, spokesman Orest Holubec said Tuesday. Governors appoint six of the board's 18 members.

In December 2002, the board approved science standards that include the disclaimer that the standards do not require the teaching or testing of the alternate concept of "intelligent design."

On the Net: State school board: http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/


Ohio board backs controversial science curricula

By JIM PROVANCE
February 11, 2004
Toledo Blade Columbus Bureau
http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040211/NEWS04/102110093/-1/NEWS

COLUMBUS - The State Board of Education yesterday voted 13-4 to give preliminary approval to an Ohio science lesson plan some members argued could promote intelligent design as a theory for the origin of life.

The majority, however, countered that its model science curricula would teach 10th-grade students to analyze critically Charles Darwin's evolution theory as they would any scientific theory and does not push the idea that some intelligence, not simply chemical reaction, guided the creation of life.

"I reject the notion that these lessons somehow advance the concept of intelligent design or creationism," member James Turner of Cincinnati said. "Indeed, I believe our lessons, just as our standards, are probably among the most pro-evolution science lessons and standards in the United States."

The board rejected a motion that would have sent the life-sciences part of the plan, "Critical Analysis of Evolution - Grade 10," back to committee.

The National Academy of Sciences has objected to the language.

The writing of model curricula is the latest step in the implementation of standards for teaching science in public schools. In late 2002, the board approved standards that generally spell out what K-12 students should know and when they should learn it.

For the first time, Ohio's science standards specifically mentioned the word "evolution," a step applauded by the scientific community. But the standards also mentioned "intelligent design," albeit as part of parenthetical declarations that the standards do not mandate the theory's teaching or testing.

Yesterday's vote represented the board's intention to adopt formally this part of the science curricula next month. The board has a June statutory deadline to adopt the entire set of science standards for all grades.

"It opens up the reputation of Ohio scientists to ridicule nationally and internationally," Patricia Princehouse, biology lecturer at Case Western University, said. "If Ohio can't enjoy a good reputation scientifically for its scientists, I don't understand how we can position the state in other arenas."

A board committee on Monday removed from its list of potential research sources a book titled Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells because it promotes the intelligent-design theory. The same list of resources includes Mr. Darwin's classic, On the Origin of Species.

Critics argued that, despite removal of the Wells book as a source, language of this critical analysis section mirrors that of supporters of the concept of intelligent design.

"Don't use the name and maybe the rubes won't know it's there," Dr. Richard B. Hoppe, chief executive office of IntelliTrade, Inc., of Cleveland, said. "If the board takes this action, do it honestly and openly. Don't cloak your actions in euphemisms."

Appointed at-large board members Emerson J. Ross, Jr., of Toledo and Sue Westendorf of Bowling Green were among those to support the proposed curricula. Martha Wise - elected representative of the district encompassing Lucas, Wood, Erie, Huron, and Lorain counties as well as parts of Ottawa and Seneca - left yesterday's meeting early but announced her intention to oppose the proposal when it goes to a final vote next month.


State panel backs disputed lesson, infuriates supporters of evolution

Scott Stephens
Cleveland Plain Dealer
February 11, 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/debate/index.ssf?/base/news/1076495549160490.xml

Columbus - The State Board of Education gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a 10th-grade biology lesson that scientists say could put "intelligent design" in Ohio classrooms.

Setting aside an impassioned plea from the National Academy of Sciences, the board voted 13-4 to declare its intent to adopt the "Critical Analysis of Evolution" lesson next month.

The academy warned that doing so would give a green light to teaching intelligent design, the idea that life is so complex that a higher being must have created it.

The disputed lesson plan has thrust Ohio back into the middle of a national fight over how to best teach the origins and development of life on Earth to public school children.

That fight is between supporters and critics of Charles Darwin's theory that life evolved through natural processes, a battle that has raged since the "monkey trial" of biology teacher John Scopes nearly 80 years ago.

"It's a sad day for science in Ohio," said Patricia Princehouse, who teaches biological evolution at Case Western Reserve University. "This opens up the reputation of Ohio scientists to ridicule nationally and internationally."

Board member James Turner of Cincinnati, who supported the lesson plan, said he believed some members of the scientific community were overreacting.

"I think this is a case of passion lacking perspective," he said.

"I reject the notion that this lesson somehow advances the notion of intelligent design or creationism," Turner said.

Princehouse and other scientists complained that much of the language in the lesson plan came from Jonathan Wells' "Icons of Evolution," a seminal text in the intelligent design movement. The board's standards committee Monday deleted the title of the book from the lesson plan's bibliography, but critics complained that Wells' ideas remained.

Princehouse and others vowed to fight the measure and predicted a court challenge if the lesson plan stands. The board will take a final vote on the measure next month, although changes to the lesson are possible through June.

Board member Martha Wise of Avon, who opposes the lesson plan, said support for the measure reflects a turnover on the board that has left it more conservative than the body that approved the state's science standards 14 months ago. Supporters of the lesson plan said it simply reflects the science standards the board adopted in December 2002, which called for students to examine criticisms of biological evolution. They also argue that Ohio's curriculum will include more arguments on behalf of evolution than standards in most other states.

"I wish intelligent design were in the lesson -- then there would be something to complain about," said Robert Lattimer, a Hudson chemist and outspoken intelligent design supporter. "But it's simply not there."

Teachers are not required to use the model curriculum, but exams such as the state's new graduation test will test children on what the curriculum covers.

Debate about the lesson plan rose to such a fevered pitch this week that the board's president, Jennifer Sheets of Pomeroy, took the extraordinary step of admonishing her colleagues against attacking one another or members of the public.

Tempers continued to flare after the vote. Board member Sam Schloemer said Ohio Department of Education officials were pressured by intelligent design advocates on the board to make sure the writing team of educators and scientists came up with a lesson plan sympathetic to intelligent design. He called on Gov. Bob Taft to intervene.

"Senior level staff members at the Department of Education are ready to revolt," said Schloemer of Cincinnati. "They're totally embarrassed by this whole process. If the governor would call it off, it would be gone."

Taft spokesman Orest Holubec said the governor had no intention of getting involved in the board's work. "The governor has faith in the board members and expects they will approve curriculum based on the standards they adopted in 2002," he said.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: sstephens@plaind.com, 216-999-4827


Evolution criticisms to remain

By Leo Shane III
The Advocate [Newark, OH] Columbus Bureau
February 11, 2004
http://www.newarkadvocate.com/news/stories/20040211/localnews/394888.html

COLUMBUS -- Evolution criticisms backed by religious groups will remain in the state's model curriculum for high school science classes, after getting overwhelming support from the state Board of Education Tuesday.

The board by a 13-4 vote gave preliminary approval to the science model lesson plan, suggestions on how to handle the subject in Ohio classrooms. It includes a chapter titled "Critical analysis of evolution" that recommends 10th-graders debate several common critiques of the theory.

Supporters of the curriculum insist that, as written, the model has nothing to do with intelligent design -- the belief that a higher power played a role in the creation of all life.

But opponents said the examples and arguments included -- things like missing links in the fossil record -- bear all the marks of intelligent design teachings, and accused board members of sneaking it into Ohio schools. Several web sites listed in the model also reference pro-intelligent design groups.

"There is a clear paper trail here to intelligent design," said Patricia Princehouse, an evolutionary biology lecturer at Case Western Reserve University. "It's a disservice to the kids learning evolution.

"This opens up the reputation of Ohio scientists to ridicule, both internationally and nationally. It's a sad day for science in Ohio."

Proponents of intelligent design pushed to have it included in the state's science guidelines in 2002, but compromised on language that required students to "investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

James Turner, a governor-appointed board member from Cincinnati, said the controversial chapter simply fulfills that analysis requirement.

"I reject the notion that these lessons advance the idea of intelligent design," he said. "There has been a lot of hyperbole about what we have done. They ignore that these are probably the most pro-evolution standards in the country."

Others on the board weren't convinced.

"I support the science standards, but I simply cannot be sure this isn't an introduction to intelligent design," said board member Robin Hovis, an elected member from Millersburg. "So I'm hesitant to put the backing of the state board behind this."

On Monday references to Jonathan Wells' book Icons of Evolution were deleted from the model's bibliography after complaints about the authors' pro-intelligent design views were raised.

While opponents on Tuesday pushed for further scaling back the chapter, several supporters asked the board to expand the critical thinking lessons.

"The best way to handle disagreements in the classroom is to teach both sides of the issue," said Robert Lattimer, a chemist at Noveon Inc. who helped write the 2002 science standards. "In my view, too much material has been removed from this lesson."

Members of the National Science Foundation and the Ohio Academy of Science opposed Tuesday's approval. Last week board member Sam Schloemer, who represents Hamilton County, called for standards committee chairman Michael Cochran to resign for ignoring the scientific community in drafting the model.

After the vote, he called for Gov. Bob Taft to use his influence to move the board members away from the "faulty curriculum."

"The governor has been mum on this for two years," he said. "He has got to take a position on this ... and get it out of our education."

Orest Holubec, spokesman for Taft, said the governor has no current plans to intervene in the process. All eight of his appointed members voted in favor of the model curriculum.

"He has faith that the school board members will implement the curriculum based on the standards," Holubec said.

Final approval of the model curriculum will be voted on next month. Ohio Academy of Science CEO Lynn Elfner said he is confident Taft and other state leaders will step in before then.

"There are senior level staff members at the Department of Education who are ready to revolt over this," he said. "They're being politically silenced. But they're having a hell of a time living with themselves at this point."


PRESS RELEASE

Efforts to Sabotage Ohio's Science Lessons Deplorable, Claims Discovery Institute

Originally published in PRNewswire
Press Release of the Discovery Institute
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040211/sfw119_1.html

SEATTLE, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The tentative decision of the Ohio State Board of Education this week to approve a model lesson plan on the critical analysis of evolution was applauded today by the Discovery Institute, whose Center for Science and Culture examines scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution. At the same time the Institute said efforts by Darwin-only lobbyists to misrepresent the issue by identifying it with intelligent design were deplorable.

"Intelligent design isn't even covered in this lesson," said Bruce Chapman, President of Discovery Institute. "The curriculum only examines the evidence for evolution and the scientific challenges to Darwin's theory that are under debate by scientists around the world."

The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause. Ohio's science standards are clear that they do not mandate the teaching of intelligent design. But Benchmark H of the science standards do require all students to be able to "Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The proposed lesson covering critical analysis of evolution implements this benchmark. The lesson has students examine the evidence supporting Darwinian evolution as well as some questions that have been raised by scientists about that evidence.

"Members of the board of education are to be congratulated for making sure that Ohio students learn as much as possible about evolution, including scientific criticisms of the theory," added Chapman. "This is a win-win approach that will benefit everyone -- students, teachers, parents, and scientists."

The Ohio Board of Education is expected to vote again in March to confirm the model lesson plan on the critical analysis of evolution.

Source: Discovery Institute


EDITORIAL

Ohio's science standards

The Cincinnati Post
February 12, 2004
http://www.cincypost.com/2004/02/12/edita021204.html

The Ohio State Board of Education should stick with the known facts when it comes time to make a binding decision on lesson plans for science courses in public schools.

Yes, the debate over evolution is back.

A year ago, after a nine-month debate over whether or not to include alternatives to the theory of evolution, the state board of education approved a broad set of science standards. They did not mention creationism or the notion of intelligent design (the concept that the complexity of life on earth suggests the hand of a divine being or a higher intelligence), but did include language saying that teachers might encourage students to critically evaluate Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

The debate has been renewed now because the state school board is nearing a final vote on detailed lesson plans that will be offered to Ohio's teachers. The lesson plans are voluntary, but will form the basis for proficiency test questions that Ohio's 10th graders will soon face.

According to reporting by the Associated Press and other news outlets, Ohio's scientific community has no objection to eight of the nine proposed lesson plans involving evolution. But scientists have complained that the ninth lesson plan includes material linked to the Intelligent Design movement.

Mind you, these aren't crackpots with too little time on their hands. The president of the pretigious National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Alberts, wrote a detailed letter to the state board of education outlining concerns "about attempts to introduce tenets of Intelligent Design into your state's science curriculum and instruction.''

It seems pretty clear that at least some members of the state board want to keep the door open for classroom discussions of intelligent design as a valid alternative to classic evolutionary theory. But it bears noting that some of the most solid board members -- among them James Turner of Cincinnati -- argue that the proposed lesson plans are among the most pro-evolution in the United States, and do not advance creationist or intelligent design arguments.

If the standards -- which were given preliminary approval Tuesday on a 13-4 vote -- are amended, it should be in a way that buttresses Turner's contention.

Certainly, there ought to be room in Ohio's public school curriculum for students to be exposed to theories about intelligent design, creationism and the like. But those discussions should be held in comparative religion, philosophy, current events courses or the like. Biology, however, should be limited to science.


EDITORIAL

The evolution debate in Ohio yet again?

Dayton Daily News
Friday, February 13, 2004
http://www.daytondailynews.com/opinion/content/opinion/daily/0214evol.html

Ohioans may be having some difficulty figuring out just what the state Board of Education is up to on the subject of evolution. Some people are saying that the board's pending new lesson plans are an effort to promote the teaching of "intelligent design" over evolution. But the very people who are accused of making that effort insist that the guidelines are actually among the most pro-evolution in the country.

Citizens who are not in a position to read all the documentation -- or interpret all the buzz words that only the fully initiated understand -- might wonder where to turn.

Best to turn to the scientists. And not just individual scientists, but the organizations that are representative of scientists and that have people who have responsibility for looking into these matters fully.

The National Academy of Sciences has entered the debate, appalled at what the Board of Education is doing. The Ohio Academy of Sciences is also upset and says it will be contacting the governor, legislators and board members "so they understand the significance of what they're doing."

One thing is clear about the scientists: Their motives have to do with science, not religion. Their organizations are not dedicated to atheism or agnosticism or humanism. Their members are all over the lot religiously, as well as politically.

As a group, though, the scientists know the difference between science and theology.

A few people with scientific credentials speak up for creationism or intelligent design. But they are the rare scientists whose motives are clearly religious and political.

The state's policy on evolution should be to let individual science teachers decide for themselves whether and how to deal with the fact that some people reject the views of modern science. In dealing, for example, with questions that some students might pose about theories they have heard outside the classroom, teachers don't need any state guidelines. Such guidelines would be micro-management. Most teachers can be trusted to treat religious differences with respect.

State policy makers must be focused on bigger, broader issues. In that regard, it's time for the Board of Education to come to terms with the difference between science and religion, and to decide that what should be taught in science classes is science.

It's time for a dithering Gov. Bob Taft to speak up clearly in defense of that principle.

Absent political leadership, the Board of Education seems unable to dispose of this issue. The controversy keeps coming back. That needn't be. Other states have managed to dispose of it.

Ohio is getting a reputation in national education circles as benighted in this realm. That is not going to help in the recruitment of teachers.

So there is a state problem. It needs to be confronted by the state's leaders: not only the governor and those who would succeed him, but Ohio's U.S. senators. Being Republicans, they are in a position to calm some of the state's conservatives about whether their values are being trampled on.

But the governor's responsibility is greatest among statewide officials. He has pursued that responsibility. Now he has to accept it.


Guide sparks debate: 'Intelligent design' theory will be heard in classroom

By Leo Shane III
Mansfield [OH] News Journal Columbus Bureau
February 15, 2004
http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/news/stories/20040215/localnews/419984.html

COLUMBUS -- After getting overwhelming support from the state Board of Education, evolution criticisms backed by religious groups will stay in the state's model curriculum for high school science classes.

By a 13-4 vote Tuesday, the board gave preliminary approval to the science mod- el teaching guide. It includes a chapter titled "Critical an- alysis of evolution" that recommends 10th-graders debate several common critiques of the theory.

Supporters of the curriculum insist the model has nothing to do with "intelligent design" -- the belief a higher power played a role in the creation of all life.

But opponents said the examples and arguments included -- things like missing links in the fossil record -- bear all the marks of intelligent design teachings, and accused board members of sneaking it into Ohio schools.

Bryan McClelland, a biology teacher at Ontario High School, said he has concerns about school boards mandating various aspects of curriculum.

"In a science classroom, we really need to be sure what we're teaching is science," he said.

Proponents of intelligent design pushed to have it included in the state's science guidelines in 2002, but compromised on language that required students to "investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

Tim Berra, professor emeritus of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at The Ohio State University-Mansfield, said the effort was part of a bigger agenda.

" 'Intelligent design' is a buzzword for introducing a version of fundamentalist Christianity into school science classes," he said. "That's been their objective for some time and they're becoming more sophisticated about it."

But James Turner, a governor-appointed board member from Cincinnati, said the controversial chapter simply fulfills that analysis requirement.

"I reject the notion that these lessons advance the idea of intelligent design," he said. "There has been a lot of hyperbole about what we have done. They ignore that these are probably the most pro-evolution standards in the country."

Others on the board were not convinced.

"I support the science standards, but I simply cannot be sure this isn't an introduction to intelligent design," said board member Robin Hovis, an elected member from Millersburg. "So I'm hesitant to put the backing of the state board behind this."

Last Monday, references to Jonathan Wells' book Icons of Evolution were deleted from the model's bibliography after complaints about the authors' pro-intelligent design views were raised.

Tuesday, opponents pushed for further scaling back the chapter, while several supporters asked the board to expand the critical thinking lessons.

"The best way to handle disagreements in the classroom is to teach both sides of the issue," said Robert Lattimer, a chemist at Noveon Inc. who helped write the 2002 science standards. "In my view, too much material has been removed from this lesson."

Berra disagreed.

"To teach creationism is turning science on its head, saying we must accept as science something that cannot be scientifically tested. That leads nowhere," Berra said.

Members of the National Science Foundation and the Ohio Academy of Science opposed Tuesday's approval. Last week, board member Sam Schloemer, who represents Hamilton County, called for standards committee chairman Michael Cochran to resign for ignoring the scientific community in drafting the model.

After the vote he called for Gov. Bob Taft to use his influence to move the board members away from the "faulty curriculum."

"The governor has been mum on this for two years," he said. "He has got to take a position on this ... and get it out of our education."

Orest Holubec, spokesman for Taft, said the governor has no plans to intervene in the process. All eight of his appointed members voted in favor of the model curriculum.

"He has faith that the school board members will implement the curriculum based on the standards," Holubec said.

Final approval of the model curriculum will be voted on next month.

News Journal reporter David Benson contributed to this story.

The Issue

Evolution

Intelligent Design


EDITORIAL: Creation controversy

Faith-based theory on evolution has no place in science class

Columbus [OH] Dispatch
Sunday, February 15, 2004
(No URL available)

Science lesson plans for Ohio's schools should be devoid of any links to the creationist theory of intelligent design.

The State Board of Education has persisted in keeping the door open to this approach, even though intelligent design represents a philosophy on the creation of the universe that is grounded in religion, not scientific research.

This newspaper repeats its call for intelligent design - which cannot be tested by scientific means - to be a topic of classes on philosophy or comparative religion, not science.

Advocates of faith-based explanations of origins stress that the latest version of the lesson plans, approved by the state board on a 13-4 vote on Tuesday, doesn't contain direct references to intelligent design. A committee of board members had deleted a reference to a leading proponent of intelligent design.

But the approved version, subject to a final vote in March, left in the lesson plans loose definitions of theory that would allow for acceptance of intelligent design. It also refers teachers and students to Web sites that contain data on this approach and links to advocates of creationism.

Intelligent-design proponents say life forms are too complex to be explained solely by evolution; thus, a higher form of intelligence must have been involved.

The Dispatch seconds the comments of board member Cyrus B. Richardson of Bethel, who said Monday, "Science is science; intelligent design is a belief."

Creationists stress that the "Darwinian thought police" don't want the prevailing theory of evolution to be challenged. In fact, scientific theories continually are challenged in labs and research projects. Experts in the field can test the latest results and theories based on natural processes and not supernatural beliefs.

This controversy is embarrassing for Ohio, which doesn't need the type of attention the debate has attracted in the past two years.

The misguided faith-based approach apparently sees a theory based on fossil records and other scientific facts as a challenge to belief in a Supreme Being. But science and religion can be complementary, not antagonistic, if what mankind can know through scientific study is left to science and what people believe about the creation of heaven and Earth is left to religion.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." [This quote is bogus; Einstein never said this. -- SDS-TCS]

The science lesson plans approved next month should be neither lame nor blind but grounded in what can be tested and proved on Earth.


Undermining evolution in Ohio

Fort Wayne [IN] Journal Gazette
Monday, February 16, 2004
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/7965530.htm

Ohio's Board of Education has delivered a victory for pseudoscience and failed public school students with its preliminary approval of a lesson plan on the teaching of evolution. Eminent scientists opposed to the plan deserve strong public support in their efforts to change the minds of board members before a final vote.

The board's 13-4 vote last week endorsed the teaching of evolution in studying the origin of life in biology classes. Unfortunately, the lesson plan does not stop there. Parts of it also make room for intelligent design, a competing idea rooted in religious dogma instead of scientific testing.

Evolution holds that all life began millions of years ago in simple organisms that grew more complex through the process of natural selection. Intelligent design regards life as too complex to be explained by random selection, therefore an unspecified higher power or being directed its course.

Intelligent design has almost no followers among experts on the origins of life, many of whom made their objections known to the board after the vote. The Ohio Academy of Sciences is planning to lobby board members for changes. Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious science organization, described its membership as "rightfully concerned about attempts to introduce tenets of intelligent design into (the) state's science curriculum and instruction."

The tentative lesson plan appears to be a clumsy attempt to finesse public opinion following the adoption of science standards in December 2002. The standards were adopted in the midst of a bitter dispute between intelligent design advocates and supporters of prevailing scientific thought.

The lesson plans under consideration this year are officially supposed to be voluntary guidelines on how to teach the standards. But their contents will form the basis of proficiency and graduation tests, thus making them hard for teachers to ignore.

Public opinion polls showing a majority favoring the incorporation of intelligent design into the science curriculum should not rule what is taught or not taught in public schools. Schools exist to transmit knowledge reached through rigorous scholarship, knowledge that sometimes may be unsettling to much of the population.

Schools cannot educate students properly if they are forced to treat all opinions, no matter how flimsy the concrete evidence, as equally valid. Ohio's Board of Education members should listen to what scientists are telling them and keep unproven, unmeasurable claims about the origins of life out of biology classrooms.


LETTER

Politics, not learning, shaped standards

JEFFREY K. McKEE
The Columbus Dispatch
Friday, February 20, 2004
http://www.dispatch.com/editorials-story.php?story=dispatch/2004/02/20/20040220-A10-05.html

Can scientists comprehend a simple lesson plan? According to State Board of Education member Deborah Owens-Fink, "Some of these scientists are so paranoid, they don't understand it."

The truth is that scientists understand it all too well: The proposed lesson plan on evolution is a thinly disguised attempt to promote creationism in Ohio's science classrooms. But the lesson is one of politics, not science. One need not be a scientist to connect the dots, as board members should know.

Did she really think that we would not notice the highly misleading statements on the fossil record of evolution, fraudulent claims about today's evolution of bacteria and direct references to creationist literature?

The proposed lesson plan must be replaced by an honest and serious portrayal of contemporary biology.

Owens-Fink's cavalier attitude is characteristic of certain board members who would rather play political games than ensure a quality science education for Ohio's young scholars. Along with board member Michael Cochran, the other main perpetrator of this fraud, Owens-Fink is pushing a desperation agenda instead of fostering understanding.

The "standards committee" of the State Board of Education needs a new chairperson with higher standards. Owens-Fink and Cochran should resign.

McKee is a Professor at Ohio State University, Worthington


Creationism back in the classroom

New Scientist
February 21, 2004
(URL not available)

CRITICS say it is creationism by stealth. Ohio's State Board of Education is attempting to include criticisms of evolutionary theory, which include ideas from advocates of intelligent design, in an official lesson plan for public schools.

In a move that has shocked biologists, the board has given preliminary approval for the lessons to be introduced into the curriculum for tenth-graders aged 15 to 16. Intelligent design theory repackages creationism in non-religious terms to get round a US ban on teaching religion in public schools.

The US National Academy of Sciences and the Ohio Academy of Science have asked the board to purge creationism from the plan. But on 10 February the plan was given preliminary approval with only two minor changes: deleting references to the book Icons of Evolution by intelligent-design advocate Jonathan Wells, and to a non-existent paper critical of evolution that was supposedly published in Nature in 1992. But Patricia Princehouse, a specialist in evolutionary theory at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, says the revised plan is riddled with errors and should be scrapped.

The document has still to receive final approval from the state board. State officials say that the vote will come no earlier than April, and that hearings may be required first. But Princehouse points out the board is also considering introducing further creationist ideas into lesson plans, including one that promotes the notion that the sun is only 6000 years old.


PRESS RELEASE

Ohio Academy of Sciences Criticized for Scare Tactics on Evolution

Originally published in Press Release Newswire
Source: Discovery Institute
Tuesday February 24, 2004
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040224/sftu130_1.html

SEATTLE, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The leadership of the Ohio Academy of Sciences (OAS) was sharply criticized today by Discovery Institute for trying to censor Ohio's new science curriculum on evolution through a campaign of fear and innuendo.

"The OAS leadership's scare campaign is more science fiction than science," said Bruce Chapman, President of Discovery Institute, the nation's leading think tank dealing with scientific challenges to neo-Darwinism.

Chapman was responding to a letter sent Monday to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft by OAS President Robert Heath. Heath urged Taft to pressure members of the Ohio State Board of Education to kill a model lesson plan on the "Critical Analysis of Evolution."

Heath alleged that adopting the lesson plan would result in the teaching of "creationism or Intelligent Design," and further claimed that the lesson plan was part of a plot by "fundamentalist Christian organizations" and supporters of intelligent design theory "to inject fundamentalist Christian beliefs into education."

Those charges were refuted by Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "The lesson plan does not even mention creationism. And the only time it cites intelligent design is in the following disclaimer reprinted directly from Ohio's science standards: 'The intent of this benchmark does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.'"

"Only in an Orwellian world could a statement about NOT mandating intelligent design be turned into the exact opposite," added West.

West urged reporters and citizens to read the lesson plan for themselves rather than rely on spin by the leadership of the OAS.

"Contrary to the OAS, the real focus of the lesson plan is to teach students more about evolution, including criticisms made in peer-reviewed science journals over major parts of evolutionary theory," said West.

For example, said West, the lesson plan has students explore debates over the fossil record and investigate different scientific views about whether microevolutionary processes (such as the development of anti-biotic resistance in bacteria) lead to macroevolution.

Regarding the OAS's hysterical claim that the lesson plan is part of a fundamentalist plot, West added: "What will OAS leaders claim next? That the lesson plan is pushed by people who want to burn witches? Such scare-tactics only serve to discredit the OAS leadership."


PRESS RELEASE

Law Professor Says Ohio Academy of Sciences Gave Gov. Taft Bad Legal Advice

Originally published in Press Release Newswire
Discovery Institute Press Release
February 24, 2004
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040224/sftu157_1.html

SEATTLE, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A law professor has faulted the Ohio Academy of Sciences (OAS) for supplying Gov. Bob Taft with bad legal advice about a model science curriculum up for adoption by the Ohio State Board of Education.

According to David K. DeWolf of Gonzaga University Law School, a letter sent to Gov. Taft earlier this week from OAS President Robert Heath contained erroneous information about the constitutionality of the proposed model curriculum.

Heath told Governor Taft that a draft lesson plan on the "Critical Analysis of Evolution" was unconstitutional because it promotes intelligent design. As evidence, Heath cited comments by Florida State University law professor Steven Gey, as well as what he referred to as a "privileged document" about the legality of intelligent design that "is being made available only to" the Governor, the Attorney General, and the counsel of the State Board of Education.

"I hope they do science better than they practice law," said DeWolf, who is also a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow. "First, they're wrong about the facts. The proposed lesson plan says nothing about intelligent design, so the claim of unconstitutionality is off to a bad start. Additionally, they don't seem to understand the law. The Supreme Court's opinion in Edwards v. Aguillard made it clear that the state may require schools to teach criticisms of existing scientific theories as a part of a good science education.

"Moreover, even if intelligent design were on the table for discussion, the Edwards case also says that alternative scientific theories can be taught as part of a teacher's academic freedom," added DeWolf. "But this plan doesn't even raise that issue because it doesn't advance intelligent design as a theory. It's hard to understand how such a basic mistake could be made."

DeWolf is co-author of a leading law review article about legal issues surrounding the teaching of evolution, and his work has been cited by members of Congress in congressional debates over science education policy.

DeWolf also questioned the attempt to use a "privileged document" sent to the Governor by the OAS. "I'm assuming that's a law review article in preparation," said DeWolf. "If you aren't ready for public scrutiny of a document, you shouldn't try to use it to argue your case. No judge would entertain a lawyer's brief that is not made available to the opposing party."

DeWolf called on the OAS to acknowledge the benefits of open discussion: "If they simply wanted to find a lawyer who would argue their case, they've succeeded. But what the public wants is a fair discussion of both sides of the question. They haven't made a good impression on that score."


COLUMN

Don't Be a Savya Hata!
Christian activists plan secret push to get religion taught in public schools.

BY FRANK LEWIS
frank.lewis@clevescene.com
Cleveland Scene
February 25, 2004
http://www.clevescene.com/issues/2004-02-25/news2.html/1/index.html

Ohio scientists are circulating a document they say proves that Christian activists are trying to sneak their teachings into public schools.

The discovery comes on the heels of the State Board of Education's approval of teaching "intelligent design." For decades, public educators were restricted to lessons on evolution, the theory that life began as a result of natural forces. In contrast, intelligent design holds that the universe was created by God -- only you just can't say His name, because it doesn't sound very scientific.

The board seemed to agree when it granted preliminary approval to a lesson plan that calls on 10th-grade teachers to "help students analyze theories that challenge Darwin's assertion that our ancestors were filthy apes."

Yet the document, unearthed this week, indicates that this is merely the first step of a far-reaching agenda to insert Christianity in public schools. Scientists say it's evidence that intelligent design is merely a "Trojan horse," to be followed by a push for full-fledged religious instruction.

Proponents were quick to denounce the claims, arguing that scientists are just angry because they're really smart but they can't get dates. "It's just crazy," says Douglas Rudy, professor of science at Xenos Christian Fellowship Church. "I've never seen such histrionics."

The memo describes the Board of Education's recent vote as a "victory," and calls for immediate action for the sake of the state. "We must move quickly to capitalize on this success," it reads. "God loves most of Ohio's children, and would rather not cast any more than necessary into the fiery pits of hell."

The memo goes on to describe the next push, "Smart Strategy," which will "breach the walls of the rest of the physical sciences."

"Smart Strategy" attempts to reassert the "true image" of God, who has been recast "by various special interests in recent years as black, a woman, even a transgendered sicko," the memo reads. "Just so we're all clear, God is a really big white man with long white hair. In the beginning, His hair was blond, and it was good. He could color it if He wanted to -- in fact He could have prevented it from turning white in the first place -- and that would have been good, too. But He let it turn white, so that we might recognize His supreme oldness. And so we could tell Him apart from Jesus, who has brown hair and is a little shorter, but still really tall."

The memo calls Smart Strategy "a must-win."

"Copernicus and Galileo may have had a point about the whole solar system thing, but piety hasn't been the same since," the memo reads. "So enough with the mysteries of the universe. If God wanted us to explore space, He wouldn't have made it so far away."

After successful implementation of "Smart Strategy," advocates would begin work on "Brilliant Blueprint," which reduces history to "an Old Testament-sanctioned 6000 years." For children who are disappointed by the elimination of dinosaurs, the memo suggests substituting passages from the Book of Revelations. "No child will miss T-Rex after hearing about the seven-headed beast. In fact, the marketing department is giddy over the plush toys possibilities. Think Chucky meets the Beanie Babies."

This is to be followed by "Clever Concept," which would "eliminate the study of languages other than Jesus's native tongue, English." Activists note that immigrants tend to be poor, amoral criminals because God only speaks English and doesn't understand their prayers. They further note that Heaven officially banned other languages in 1996, and that Ohio children should be trained to be productive citizens in the Hereafter.

The memo concludes with a section on "Ingenious Interruptus," which acknowledges the complexities of modern sex education: "Oy! as the Christ killers say. Kids get so many mixed messages these days, it's vital they get the straight facts in school. And we do mean straight. Heather may have two mommies, but she needs to know that they're both going to hell."

By getting Governor Bob Taft to include the religious tract Kids, Don't Be a Savya Hata! in his OhioReads program, and by requiring athletic coaches to report excessive use of hair-care products by boys, activists hope to "gouge the queer eye," according to the memo. "After that, the lesson is as plain as it gets: Who would Jesus do? No one!"

Case Western Reserve professor Patricia Princehouse, founder of Ohio Citizens for Science, said the memo proves that intelligent design is a "wedge for inserting Bible-based education into public schools."

"Nonsense," said Mark Hartwig, a psychologist who writes a column called "The Wedge Update." "That's Darwinist propaganda. They refuse to acknowledge the growing body of evidence culled from opinion polls in southern states, then accuse us of having an agenda."

Hartwig and others vowed to continue to use the science to prove their findings.

"This memo business is much ado about nothing," said Bob Lattimer, a chemist and prominent Ohio intelligent design proponent. "Who knows, the Darwinists might have written it, the same way Satan created the fossil record."


CWRU scientist threatens court fight if state approves biology lesson plan

Scott Stephens
Cleveland Plain Dealer Reporter
February 26, 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/1077796629165810.xml

A Case Western Reserve University scientist says he will go to court if the State Board of Education approves a 10th-grade biology lesson plan he claims will give teachers a green light to teach "intelligent design."

"I'm going to ask the ACLU to take action," Case physicist Lawrence Krauss said at a news conference yesterday at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. "It's not just a scientific question. It's become an interesting legal question."

Krauss has been a leading opponent of the plan, appearing in debates and writing widely against it.

Krauss' comments were endorsed by Florida State University law professor Steven Gey, a leading authority on religious liberties and free speech.

Gey, who will speak at 7:30 tonight at Case's Strosacker Auditorium, said he believes the les son plan, "Critical Analysis of Evolution," is a descendent of "creation science."

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 struck down creation science on the grounds that it was a religion rather than a science. Critics say the Ohio lesson is largely based on the tenets of intelligent design- the idea that life is so complex that a higher being must have created it.

"This plan is not only bad science - it is illegal," Gey said.

Backers of the lesson plan said it simply complies with the state's 2002 academic standards that urge schools to examine criticisms of evolution.

A law professor associated with the Discovery Institute, a pro-intelligent-design think tank in Seattle, said the lesson plan in question doesn't mention intelligent design. Even if it did, the high court ruled schools can teach alternative academic theories, he said.

"I hope they do science better than they practice law," said Gonzaga University professor David DeWolf. "First, they're wrong about the facts. Additionally, they don't seem to understand the law."

Gary Daniels, litigation coordinator for the ACLU of Ohio, said lawyers from his office are monitoring the debate and doing research to determine what - if anything - the group should do. "We're taking a keen interest in what's going on," Daniels said.

The State Board of Education tentatively approved the lesson plan last month. A final vote is scheduled for March 9.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Academy of Science formally asked Gov. Bob Taft to urge the board to eliminate the lesson plan.

Taft spokesman Orest Holubec said the governor had not yet read the letter.

"The governor supports the standards that were passed at the end of 2002, and he trusts that the school board members will pass a model curriculum based on those strict standards," Holubec said. "That's the work of the board, and the governor trusts they will do it well."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: sstephens@plaind.com, 216-999-4827


PRESS RELEASE

Ohio Darwin Groups Enlist Help of Controversial Legal Expert

Originally published in PRNewswire
Press Release Source: Discovery Institute
Thursday, February 26, 2004
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040226/sfth061_1.html

SEATTLE, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Ohio's pro-Darwin groups have enlisted the help of a professor known for his "far out" legal views in their effort to censor a proposed science lesson on evolution.

Earlier this week the Ohio Academy of Sciences (OAS) cited Florida State University law professor Steven Gey as the authority for its claim that the "Critical Analysis of Evolution" lesson plan being considered by the Ohio State Board of Education is "illegal." On Thursday, Gey will be the featured speaker at an event sponsored by opponents of the lesson.

"The choice of Gey merely underscores how weak the evolutionists' legal argument is," says Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "Gey has a track record of promoting legal views that can only be called far-out." For example:

According to Gey, the "Critical Analysis of Evolution" lesson plan violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it promotes intelligent design, which he claims is religious.

"The lesson plan doesn't teach intelligent design," responds West. "It analyzes mainstream scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory. Even if it did deal with intelligent design, it wouldn't be unconstitutional under existing Supreme Court precedent. Intelligent design is a scientific theory, and the courts have made clear that alternative scientific theories can be presented as part of a good science education."

West adds that recent law review articles in the Ohio Law Journal, the Utah Law Review, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy all take a position contrary to the one espoused by Gey.

"The weight of legal authorities is against his view," comments West.

Citations for the legal materials referenced above will be supplied on request.

Source: Discovery Institute


Professors debate intelligent design

The Observer: The Student Newspaper of Case Western Reserve University
February 27, 2004
http://www.cwru.edu/orgs/observer/index/Head00.html

Case professors Dr. Cynthia Beall, Dr. Lawrence Krauss, and Dr. Patricia Princehouse gave a press conference at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Wednesday to discuss new biology lesson plans for Ohio high school students in the ongoing intelligent design vs. evolution debate.

One of the new model lessons, "Critical Analysis of Evolution," for the 10th grade, will be voted on by the Ohio Board of Education (OBE) on March 9. The model lesson attempts to poke holes in evolutionary theory, and has been repudiated by scientists and scientific organizations including the Case Faculty Senate, the Ohio Academy of Science, and the National Academy of Scientists. It has also been dismissed as "pseudo-science" by the Ohio Faculty Council, made up of members from all public Ohio universities.

The model curricula passed the OBE vote for intent to adopt by a 13-4 margin this February, and likely will pass an adoption vote by a 12-7 vote March 9, when a public hearing will be held before the final adoption vote takes place. According to sources within the OBE, if the lesson plan is adopted it will become a part of the curricula tested on the Ohio proficiency exam, which is used to determine school success and fund allocation; it is also necessary to pass the test to earn a high school diploma in Ohio.

At the heart of "A Critical Analysis of Evolution" is what has been called "a pattern of deception" by Princehouse, an evolutionary biologist, and "an attack on science" by Krauss. The lesson plan has been criticized for lack of clarity, false historical information, incorrect or missing footnotes, footnotes directly from books on intelligent design, false definitions, using outdated scientific information, and errors of fact. For instance, the lesson plan defines a theory as a "supposition," when scientists usually define a theory as an explanation of phenomena that has passed empirical tests. The end result, critics believe, is that this is the first step in getting rid of all scientific theories that go against creationist teachings.

Richard Baker, an avowed creationist and vice president of the OBE, disagrees. "I voted for it because I think you … need to look at more than one situation as part of the learning process," he said. According to him, the plan's only goal is to "critically analyze" the theory of evolution, and that it does not violate laws that separate church and state.

Baker accused the scientific community of wasting time debating the plan. "We spend all this malarkey and baloney when 99 percent of all the people who are taught this have nothing to do with the rest of their lives … These scientists, they don't care about wasting their own time or anybody else's time. In business we don't waste time … To me, [the lesson] is not a big deal." According to Baker, the real reason scientists want to do away with the lesson plan is, as he said to a group of scientists at a board meeting concerning the lesson plan, "[They] think [they] know everything. [They're] just a bunch of paranoid, egotistical scientists afraid of people finding out [they] don't know anything."

Lynn Elfner, director of the Ohio Academy of Science, disagrees with this thinking. Noting many footnotes to creationist works and similarities of argument between creationist works and the lesson plan, she said that "the concepts of intelligent design are embedded throughout the document and they are traceable to intelligent design organizations … By using the lesson plan, we can go from the document to the pew and the church."

OBE member Sam Schoemer agreed. "When you compare the lesson plan with [intelligent design] websites, it's almost verbatim." Steven Gey, a Florida State constitutional law professor and ABC legal news analysts, added, "It's not only bad science, it's illegal."

Although the references to creationist books in the lesson plan have been removed, prompting allegations of plagiarism, the creationist websites listed as research resources are still there. However, the words "creationism" and "intelligent design" are not in the document at all.

Another issue with the lesson plan is the way it was created. According to Schoemer, the selection for the writing committee was closed and "controlled by the pro-creationist chair Mike Cochran." Martha Wise, another OBE member, said that the lesson plan itself was "written by an [intelligent design] ideologist with limited stature as a scientist." According to Princehouse, "writing committee members could not take home documents from the meeting … They collected and counted every piece of paper they gave out before they let anybody go home."

Such secrecy, Elfner believes, has "subverted" the quality of the plan. "The process to develop the model lessons was controlled concealed, especially from scientists. The result is we have a fatally flawed model lesson that is riddled with errors both in pedagogy and scientific content," she said.


OPINION

Science standards will spur critical thinking

Glen Needham
The Columbus Dispatch
March 1, 2004
(URL not available)

Ohio's model science curriculum has come under intense public scrutiny in recent days, with most of the attention being paid to a proposed lesson plan titled, "Critical Analysis of Evolution."

As a biologist, science educator and father of two high-school students enrolled in science, I think the proposed science curriculum is superb in its treatment of evolution. As a member of the Science Advisory Committee, I saw firsthand the State Board of Education and Department of Education expertly guide the curriculum-refinement process.

There are nine proposed lessons that deal with evolution, much more coverage than before. These lessons were created with the input from a number of science educators and scientists and were extensively field-tested in schools last fall with overall positive review.

I support all of the lessons in the curriculum, especially the "Critical Analysis of Evolution" lesson. It provides a corrective to the overly simplistic presentations that one often finds in high-school biology textbooks. One example is that minor genetic variation (microevolution) can produce major structural changes in organisms (macroevolution). The new lesson is good science because it encourages students to apply critical-thinking skills to analyze the evidence. Good students know there is a growing body of published criticism of evolutionary theory.

I also find in my teaching that it is good education. Students are energized by the open discussion, indicating that this approach has helped to sharpen their critical-thinking skills while engaging their interest. Evolution is so fundamental to biology that we must teach it very well. There is no hidden agenda, no reference to intelligent design or faith-based views in this lesson. Ohio and its students will be the winners when the board gives its final approval on March 9.

Glen Needham -- Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, Ohio State University, Columbus

-------

[Glen Needham is a public supporter of the Discovery Institute. He is one of the "52 Ohio scientists" who "endorse objectivity." http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/Polls%20with%20MN%202.pdf

He also has an "office" at "Leadership University," an arm of Christian Leaderhip Ministries, which is a long-time ally of the notorious Discovery Institute Wedge Strategy. Needham is an entomologist who, judging by his LU URL, specializes in tick spit: http://www.facultylinc.com/personal/facoffice.nsf/AllStaffbyStaffID/tickspit?OpenDocument

He shares his "Personal Story": http://www.facultylinc.com/personal/facoffice.nsf/Storys+By+Staff+ID/tickspit?OpenDocument]


Again, teach the best science

Editorial
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Thursday, March 4, 2004
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/03/04/editorial_science.html

A heated issue most Ohioans thought was settled more than a year ago -- how the origins and development of life will be taught in science classes -- is again causing controversy.

At the center, again, is the concept of "intelligent design," which proposes that some higher intelligence played a role. Evolutionary scientists scoff at the notion, calling it religious creationism masquerading as science. They say it has no business in the science classroom.

Proponents of intelligent design wanted it included in the curriculum standards, but lost that battle in the fall of 2002 and settled for language that would require students to "investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

That solution, which we supported, ended the debate -- or so we thought. Last month, the state Board of Education gave a preliminary OK by a 13-4 vote for a model curriculum that included a 10th-grade science chapter titled "Critical analysis of evolution" that would encourage students to discuss various critiques of evolution.

Some scientists cried foul, objecting that the chapter had evolved, so to speak, into a stalking horse for intelligent design. They cited a "clear paper trail" in some specific references the chapter cites. Defenders said it merely reflected the "teach the controversy" compromise, and noted that the standards specifically state they do not include intelligent design. The board is wrestling anew with the issue, and a final vote comes Tuesday.

Evolutionary scientists have a point when they say the unit opened the door to intelligent design -- a point board officials have now acknowledged by removing a controversial pro-intelligent design book, Jonathan Wells' Icons of Evolution, from the bibliography.

But scientists' warnings that including a critical analysis of evolution will make Ohio the nation's laughingstock seem far-fetched. One board member, James Turner of Cincinnati, says the standards as now written are "probably the most pro-evolution standards in the country."

Some now believe too much has been removed from the critical analysis section. Others seem to believe that any material that does not foster an uncritical acceptance of evolution should be removed from the standards.

Bear in mind that while the state standards specify what has to be taught, they do not limit what also can be taught. Local school districts have the option of adding other concepts to the origins discussion.

As we said two years ago, schools should teach the best science, not try to balance competing ideologies. We also argued that the best science is a science that constantly challenges its own assumptions, and teaches students to do likewise.

The book is not closed on evolutionary biology, subatomic physics or almost any other scientific discipline you care to name. There are questions for which we don't have answers. We should teach the best of what we do know - which in this case clearly is evolution - but also teach students to keep questioning and wondering.


Critics of evolution curriculum dissatisfied

Opponents claim even after changes, chapter still teaches intelligent design

By Leo Shane III
Mansfield News Journal
Gannett News Service
March 4, 2004
http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/news/stories/20040304/localnews/8361.html

COLUMBUS -- Critics of the state Board of Education's new evolution curriculum hope to derail final approval of the document at the board's monthly meeting next week.

But they admit little has changed since last month, when the board overwhelmingly backed the lesson plan they say includes intelligent design teachings.

"We're trying to get some signal, but we don't know what will happen," said Lynn Elfner, CEO of the Ohio Academy of Science. "We haven't had any feedback from the governor or anyone else."

In February, the board voted 13-4 to give preliminary approval to the evolution curriculum, designed to be a classroom guideline for science teachers.

It includes a chapter titled "Critical analysis of evolution" that recommends 10th-graders debate several common critiques of the theory.

Board member Martha Wise, who tried to have the chapter removed, said the arguments and examples used are those often put forth by proponents of intelligent design, the belief a higher power played a role in the creation of all life.

"There's a reason to be upset here, because it's not science," she said. "(Intelligent design) is specifically faith-based."

But the majority of the board said the curriculum reflects compromise language, worked out two years ago when science standards were drafted, after the board considered requiring intelligent design to be taught alongside evolution.

Supporters insist, as written, the chapter has nothing to do with intelligent design, only critical thinking.

References to one specific intelligent design author have been removed from the curriculum's bibliography, and the chapter's preamble states it "does not mandate the teaching of intelligent design."

Board member Michael Cochran, head of the group's standards committee, said he will present the lesson plan to the board Tuesday without any major revisions because no compelling arguments against the curriculum have been presented.

Board member Jennifer Stewart, who voted against the language last month, said the board hasn't taken enough time to review the concerns outlined by opponents. But she is optimistic that enough revisions have been made to the initial draft that she can vote for it this time.

Wise said she and other opponents are still lobbying her colleagues to delay final approval and remove the critical analysis chapter. Neither she nor board member Virginia Jacobs, another opponent, was present for last month's vote.

"We only need four votes more, so we're trying to persuade people leading up to the meeting," she said. "There is no room for compromise."

Elfner echoed those comments.

"Our concern is that if this gets past the board it will be touted as a way to get a wedge into the system," he said. "We're not in the mood to compromise."

Elfner said faculty at Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University have rallied against the curriculum, and he expects more academics to petition the board next week.

He has also asked Gov. Bob Taft to step in and block passage of the curriculum. Taft so far has refused to get involved.

Wise said she thinks if the lesson plan is approved it will leave the board vulnerable to legal action on the basis the state is promoting teaching religion in its public schools.

"I'm ready to file a case myself," she said.


Don't let dogma censor teaching

By Benjamin Wiker
Guest columnist
Cincinnati Enquirer
Sunday, March 7, 2004
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/03/07/editorial_ed1a.html

On Tuesday, the Ohio Board of Education will vote on final adoption of a model science curriculum that includes a lesson plan on the "critical analysis of evolution." The lesson plan is intended to implement Benchmark H of Ohio's science standards, which requires students to know "how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

But now shrill voices claiming to speak for science are trying to pressure the board to drop the lesson plan, which was developed with input from citizens, science educators and scientists from around Ohio.

Rather than honestly debate the merits of the new model curriculum, opponents are trying to prevail through use of a classic red herring. They allege that the proposed lesson on the critical analysis of evolution is merely Intelligent Design (ID) theory in disguise. If so, it's a pretty good disguise. Intelligent Design proposes that some features of the natural world are best explained as the product of intelligence rather than an undirected natural process. The lesson plan in question doesn't even address this topic, let alone discuss it.

What it does do is explore several recognized problems facing evolutionary theory, such as the fossil record and the need for an adequate mechanism of macroevolution, that are currently the subject of debate in the mainstream science community.

When I testified before the board recently, I offered to supply board members with a large stack of scientific papers (over 40) that critique key aspects of evolutionary theory. Each of these articles comes from top peer-reviewed scientific journals and document many problems with contemporary evolutionary theory, including some that are treated in the model curriculum. Not one of these articles is authored by an advocate of Intelligent Design, nor are any that I know of sympathetic to ID theory.

I also told the board about a book just published by MIT press, The Origination of Organismal Form. This book critically analyzes many of the key claims of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, the standard textbook theory. Its two lead authors, the Viennese biologist Gurd Möller and Yale biologist Stuart Newman, conclude that the problem that Darwin set out to solve in 1859 -- namely, how fundamentally new forms of life arise -- remains unsolved.

Möller and Newman list four tables of open questions and unsolved problems in evolutionary biology. As it happens, many of these questions and problems are addressed directly in the model curriculum's lesson plan on the critical analysis of evolution. Möller and Newman have nothing to do with Intelligent Design. I doubt they have even heard of it.

Should the board prevent students from knowing about current scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory when those criticisms are found in the peer-reviewed scientific literature? Should the board censor the fact that Darwin himself recognized that the fossil record was a serious problem facing his theory? Should it keep students from knowing about the way that real science works, where critical analysis is considered healthy?

Those who demand that the board censor such material are undermining the accurate and invigorating presentation of evolution in the model curriculum. In all the sciences, not just in biology, knowledge advances when scientists are free to analyze evidence critically, to offer competing accounts of how best to interpret data, and to evaluate competing hypotheses. That is how real science works, and students can understand this best if they are immersed in rather than shielded from current scientific debates and discussion.

Darwin-only activists, and spokesmen for "official science," are now pressuring the board to "let the scientists determine the curriculum," as if only committed neo-Darwinists constituted real scientists. But plenty of scientists question aspects of contemporary evolutionary theory. Over 300 scientists from institutions such as Yale, the Smithsonian, M.I.T., Rice and Ohio State have signed a statement expressing skepticism about the sufficiency of the neo-Darwinian mechanism.

If the Ohio Board of Education removes the critical analysis lesson plan, it will be misrepresenting the current scientific discussion about evolutionary theory. The critiques addressed in the lesson plan exist in the current peer-reviewed scientific literature. Ohio students should have the right to learn about these currents of scientific thought, free from threats of censorship by rigid defenders of an aging scientific orthodoxy.

Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and a senior fellow of Discovery Institute, whose Center for Science and Culture is a leading think tank examining scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution.


Board violates its own standard

Lawrence M. Krauss
Guest columnist
Cincinnati Enquirer
Sunday, March 7, 2004
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/03/07/editorial_ed1b.html

Perhaps the time has come for Gov. Bob Taft to fight to maintain science standards in his state, because it doesn't appear as if the Ohio Board of Education will.

Deborah Owens Fink of the school board was remarkably frank when she referred to the disputed lesson plan that she helped push the board to accept. "Ohio has set a standard for the whole nation on how to deal with these issues," she proclaimed.

The problem is, it's a lousy standard - one which actually violates the standard that the board itself set a year ago. After indicating that students should learn "how scientists continue to investigate and critically examine evolution," the board added: "The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design."

Yet Fink helped supervise the drafting of both this lesson plan and four others which introduced young-earth creationist and other non-scientific ideas and which have been subsequently removed from consideration.

Fink and her colleagues Michael Cochran and James Turner also say that the group of scientists from Ohio universities, who, at the request of the board, had submitted a replacement lesson plan, are over-reacting to the board's effort to introduce what they argue are simply "scientific" objections to evolution. Actually, that doesn't capture the depth of their rhetoric. They used phrases during meetings like "whiny scientists," "arrogant" and "egotistical" "kooks" who "lack perspective." But since Fink has claimed we keep criticizing people and not the facts, let's look at the facts.

Why would the National Academy of Sciences weigh in on a lesson plan that is supposedly designed to encourage students to explore scientific controversies?

In the disputed lesson, students are encouraged to do Internet research on these controversies. Bruce Alberts, president of the academy, describes an NAS staff member's examination of the recommended Web sites in the lesson plan. The top five sites listed out of a total of seven sites include a broken link, an Intelligent Design website that also sells ID books, a site hosted by the National Association for Objectivity in Science, an anti-evolution group, and another site that features resources concerning intelligent design and "philosophical theism."

Many of the references in the proposed lesson plan in fact can be found in the book of Jonathan Wells, one of those who appeared at the debate. While these ID arguments still remain in the lesson plan, the reference to Wells' book has been removed.

"Please understand that the National Academy of Sciences and, I would contend, the vast majority of scientists, are not asking people to choose between science and religion," Alberts wrote. "What concerns us is that Intelligent Design is not scientific because its ultimate tenet that life on Earth is the result of the work of some intelligent being is scientifically untestable and therefore cannot be invalidated through scientific means."

Science is, in the end, what scientists do. It has been remarkably successful at changing the face of our civilization precisely because it has standards. Theories that survive the repeated test of experiment become part of the working toolkit of scientists who attempt to understand what has not yet been understood. To be used by the scientific community, and discussed and ultimately taught at universities and in high schools, theories must prove useful by confronting data and making useful predictions. This has nothing to do with one's religious leanings.

This is why we cannot simply throw up our arms and say, OK, just this once, let's relax our standards. It is also the reason that the academy argues against teaching Intelligent Design in science classes. The Supreme Court in 1987 ruled "the argument that life came from the action of an 'intelligent mind' " wasn't science. It is disingenuous to suggest that the Model Curriculum committee that proposed this lesson was maintaining the standards of science.

These board members have made it clear that they are unwilling to listen to the scientific community. It is time for the governor, who has publicly claimed be above the fray but who has privately exerted pressure, to come out and support scientists in their efforts to maintain scientific standards. If he weighs in on this issue, there is every reason to expect that the board, with eight of his appointees, will follow suit. If not, it will be hard for him to argue that his administration is actively working to raise Ohio's technological standard so that it can compete in a 21st century whose economy may be dominated by biotechnology - which, by the way, is based on a well-tested theory called evolutionary biology.

Lawrence M. Krauss is director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics and physics department chairman at Case Western Reserve University.


Letters on Ohio science standards

Cincinnati Enquirer
Sunday, March 7, 2004
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/03/07/editorial_ed1clet.html

On Tuesday, the Ohio Board of Education will vote on proposed science curriculum standards that include a section on "critical analysis of evolution." Some scientists object that it opens the door to discussion of "intelligent design," the idea that a higher intelligence played a role in the development of life. Others say it simply lets students get involved in the current scientific debate over aspects of evolution.

Our readers share a variety of viewpoints.

Teach all evidence about evolution

Ohio schools should teach all the evidence about macroevolution - evidence that supports the theory as well as evidence that questions it. Opponents of the "critical analysis of evolution" lesson are engaged in the censorship of ideas. They simply do not want the theory of common descent to be subjected to critical analysis. They're afraid this would show that the emperor (macroevolution) has no clothes. And on this point, they are certainly correct.

Robert Lattimer, Hudson, Ohio

Public school can't be Sunday school

These standards are for public schools, not Sunday school. Science education does not include non-scientific "critical looks" at relativity or quantum mechanics, and it should not include nonscientific speculations on evolution. It is only on religious grounds that evolution is challenged. Religious indoctrination is explicitly forbidden in public schools, and this back-door attempt to foist it on the public should also be rejected.

Jorge Avila, Covington

Teach what's testable, don't slam what isn't

Whether a topic should be included under the study of science should be a function of whether its theoretical underpinnings may be subjected to the scientific method. While both evolution and intelligent design are composed of hypotheses, only those of the former can be tested by experimentation and observation, and therefore only those of the former can ever be disproven.

The validity of beliefs based purely on faith or the absence of data cannot be disproven and cannot be studied scientifically, nor should they be a part of the science curriculum. However, the teachers of evolution should not be permitted to teach or otherwise imply that intelligent design is scientifically invalid, for it is merely scientifically untestable.

Denise M. Everett, Fort Thomas

Evolution is theory; creation is of God

The Enquirer says, "Teach the best of what we do know." And you folks at the Enquirer do know that accident, no matter the odds, trumps design. There are two things we must remember in the conflict between creation and evolution:

Jim Frye, Forest Park

Let both theories be subject to debate

To ignore that evolution exists is to turn a blind eye to overwhelming evidence that has been carefully collected and critically analyzed for years. What has made this field of study so reliable and valid is that it is constantly being challenged, scrutinized and updated due to technologies that allow us to understand events with more insight and clarity than ever.

Why not put the intelligent design theory under the same microscope? A good debate, freedom of thought and the right to pursue answers are the cornerstone of our country's greatness.

Sharon Disher, Anderson Township

Lack of data doesn't validate supernatural

Fossils provide irrefutable evidence that evolution has occurred, but as yet, paleontologists don't know all the details of the processes that drive evolution.

However, just because the scientific explanation for an observed natural phenomenon isn't complete, it doesn't mean that the phenomenon isn't understandable or can only be explained by the supernatural.

Throughout human history we have come up with mystical explanations for things we couldn't understand, only to have those beliefs discarded in the face of new scientific discoveries.

For this reason, I believe the state board of education should not give in to those who would try to force their unsubstantiated religious beliefs into science curricula.

Peter Lask, Oxford

Religious theory not on par with science

The entire debate over teaching science versus religious theory and myth in schools mystifies me. The two are not compatible, and the latter is for parents and Sunday schools to attend to. All it takes is a bit of logical thinking to realize this.

Scientific analysis consists of the hypothesis-testing-proof chain that leads, more often than not, to the hypothesis being discarded. Many scientific theories are discarded through the scientific process because they can't be proven.

This fact does not stop dreamers from dreaming or inventors from inventing. But it does force them to find alternate methods to prove that what they imagine can actually happen.

The results of experimentation must be reproduced by others to be accepted.

Religion is quite the opposite. There is no proof of a belief, no matter how fervently millions wish otherwise. There is not even a consensus among believers regarding the details of the truth.

The theory cannot be tested or reproduced. The theory cannot even be deduced from any logical sequence of known events. It is a belief, and not a fact, no matter how pervasive the belief is.

The problem many have is that the intelligent-design front is making a direct attack on established scientific theory. Nothing stops a parent from instructing a child otherwise at home.

The intelligent-design front also forgets that there are many other beliefs in the world, this area, and in each of our cities, that do not comport with intelligent design. Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Muslims, idol worshipers, etc., all have varying views on creation.

If one is to implement an intelligent-design segment of a high school education, certainly all of the various theories deserve equal time and attention to detail.

In that regard, remember that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. In the view of many, if any religious dogma is going to enter the public sphere, then the government must make certain that no single belief system is given a dominant role.

Even more, this would be comparative religion, a survey of creation myths, or a world cultural survey.

It would not be science, and should never be taught in the same curriculum with evolution.

J. Stephen Smith, Covington

A matter of survival, not intelligence

Science texts accept evolution. This obviously includes evolution of disease germs, which have evolved immunity to antibiotics.

I suggest texts address the question of "intelligent design" by asking whether this intelligence has assisted disease germs. Any student would say, "The disease germs did not need help. They survived because they adapted. The easy-to-kill germs died out, leaving the best. This is evolution at work. It does not need any help." The next obvious conclusion is that animals evolved the immunity to cope with these germs. It is just a continuing battle for survival. No intelligent designer.

Everett DeJager, Rossmoyne

Use courtroom sense; hear all the evidence

The current blow-up over the state's science standards seems to be over something we take for granted in our court system. What? Hearing evidence for and against evolution? Letting the students decide for themselves? What will they think of next?

Janine Miller, South Charleston, Ohio

Book doesn't advocate design argument

Thank you for your March 4 editorial ("Again, teach the best science") encouraging science students to think critically about evolutionary theory. The editorial was mistaken, however, in calling my Icons of Evolution a "pro-Intelligent Design book." Except for a few paragraphs describing how biology texts misuse scientific evidence to argue against design, and two brief references to the history of the controversy, the book doesn't even mention Intelligent Design, much less advocate it. Instead, it cites scientific literature to show how textbooks distort, misrepresent or even fake much of the evidence for evolution. Apparently, advocates of Darwin-only education don't want students to read it.

Jonathan Wells, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute, Seattle


Ohio likely to put doubts into teaching of evolution

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer
March 7, 2004
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/03/07/loc_science07.html

How did life begin? Did everything start with a big bang? Did God create the universe?

Questions like these have been at the center of controversy for nearly a century and Ohio is about to re-enter the debate.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Board of Education is expected to approve model science lessons - including a 10th-grade biology lesson with a critical look at the theory of evolution.

Most board members want to let students debate evolution in science classrooms.

The vote is attracting national attention, as Ohio public schools become the center of the debate on evolution versus "intelligent design."

Prominent organizations like the National Academy of Sciences have opposed the proposed curriculum. Endorsing the lesson plan are groups like the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit think tank. The institute's Center for Science and Culture challenges Darwinian evolution.

Ohio teachers have always been able to critically discuss evolution. But critics of the lesson plan say approval would make Ohio the first state to sanction public-school teaching of intelligent design, the theory that life is so complex that an intelligent being must have played a role in designing it.

Proponents say the lesson plan, which teachers would be expected but not required to follow next school year, simply allows a critical analysis of evolutionary theory.

"There are some people who are so worried about students inquiring as to how much we know and don't know about the theory of evolution that they would rather have students not question it," said state board member Deborah Owens Fink, an associate professor of marketing and international business at the University of Akron.

Scientists say they don't dispute the need for critical analysis of scientific theories. Rather, some say, this lesson plan sounds too much like creationism, a God-based concept about the creation of life that they say violates the separation of church and state when taught in public schools. They cite Web sites and book references on intelligent design that are incorporated in the lesson plan as resources.

"It's not based in science," said Lynn Elfner, chief executive officer of the Ohio Academy of Science. "The creationists would argue the words 'intelligent design' are not there and that's true, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's still a duck."

A national debate

Ohio is the latest state to spar over the teaching of evolution, the theory that all species descended from a common ancestor and that changes occur naturally and over time in life forms.

Science standards and curricula on evolution have drawn fire in recent years in New Mexico, Minnesota, West Virginia, Georgia and Kansas. Just last month, Georgia's top education official dropped plans to remove the word "evolution" from the state's academic standards.

Debate erupted here in 2002 as Ohio began developing new science standards, or concepts that students in grades K-12 are expected to know and be tested on.

People disagreed on how to teach evolution, with some pressing for the inclusion of intelligent design. The state board compromised in December 2002 by including critical analysis of evolution.

In February, the board stated its intent to approve a set of lessons teachers could use to teach the science concepts. The 13-4 vote came after fierce debate and testimony from opposing groups, including the Intelligent Design Network, a national non-profit organization, and the Ohio Academy of Science.

The disputed lesson plan includes suggestions on how to guide students to critically analyze evolution. One lesson suggests a lack of evidence of major evolutionary changes in the fossil record.

However, evolutionists do use fossils as evidence oftransformations of species. They say fossils of transitional forms, like the Archaeopteryx, a reptile-like bird, show how some living forms evolved from earlier forms.

As a way to critically analyze evolution, the lesson plan encourages teachers to suggest that the Archaeopteryx is not a transitional form and that the fossil record instead shows sudden appearances of new biological forms. Critics say that belief is consistent with creationism.

Ohio school board member G.R. "Sam" Schloemer of Wyoming said the 21-page lesson on critical analysis of evolution is based on creationism or intelligent design and doesn't belong in public schools.

"There is no scientific evidence to support" intelligent design and creationism, Schloemer said. "Until Gov. Bob Taft gets involved and tells his appointed board members to forget about this, we will have it here in Ohio.

"That's in contrast to the governors of West Virginia, Texas, and more recently within the last month, the governor of Georgia, who said we are going to teach evolution and we're not going to bring in pseudoscience."

Orest Holubec, Taft's spokesman, said the governor supports the science standards and trusts the board will approve a curriculum based on the standards.

Supporters of intelligent design say the lesson plan does not refer to intelligent design.

"These standards limit themselves to simply addressing criticisms of evolution and I think that's perfectly appropriate," said John Calvert of Shawnee Mission, Kan., managing director of the Intelligent Design Network.

To suggest that evolution is the undeniable explanation for the creation of life is wrong because evolutionary theory assumes an intelligent being did not create life, Calvert said.

"When you ask the question of where does life come from, that unavoidably impacts religion," he said.

But the critical analysis unfairly singles out evolution, which is steeped in evidence and has been tested, said Marc Cron, science department chair for Harrison High School in the Southwest Local School District.

"I think that infers an intelligent design agenda," he said. "Why only have a scientific debate over evolution. Why not over plate tectonics? Why not gravity?"

Debate in class

Some teachers are leery of the proposed lessons, while others say they will continue to address students' questions as they arise.

Bob McMillan, biology teacher at Mount Healthy High School, said he starts his evolution lessons every year telling students he will stick to his area of expertise.

"I feel ill-equipped to teach theories that are not scientific in nature," he said. "If you want to learn about creation, then you need to see a priest, a pastor, a minister or someone more qualified to speak about it."

However, he teaches evolution as a theory and encourages students to critically analyze the theory. He tells students that people have other beliefs on the origin of life, including creationism.

Down the hall from McMillan, Edward Hornsby Jr., a physical and earth sciences teacher - and Evangelical Christian - said he doesn't preach his beliefs to students.

"Students need to be able to choose for themselves. I'm here to inform them but I don't want to push my beliefs on another person," he said.

Hornsby encourages critical analysis of evolution in his classroom.

"I tell them (evolutionary) theory has evidence to support it, but it's not 100 percent fact," he said.

Rick White, an advanced placement biology teacher at Finneytown High School said, "Some of the people making decisions, even at the state level, don't have a clear idea of how science works. In science, theory is something we take very seriously. It has withstood some testing over time. Evolution fits that definition very nicely. There's a huge amount of data suggesting life forms do change over time."

Students have conflicting viewpoints.

"Evolution and intelligent design should both be taught, said Sydney Bostwick, 17, a Norwood High School junior. "It is up to the teachers to teach and inform the students, and it is up to the students to decide what they choose to believe.

"If you only teach evolution, then it's like nothing else exists and that isn't true. After all, science is always changing and what we believe now might not be true 10 years from now."

Other students think intelligent design and religion-based theories on the origin of life should not be allowed in science classrooms.

"The main difference between science and religion is that religion is based on faith and personal belief, while science is based on fact and theory," said Daniel Zimmer, 15, a freshman at Sycamore High School.

"Evolution should be taught in school because it is backed by science. Religion should not enter into it. Saying that you shouldn't teach evolution in school because your religion says differently is like saying that Shakespeare shouldn't be read in school because you disagree with his plot lines."

E-mail jmrozowski@enquirer.com


Lobbying unlikely to change evolution decision

By LEO SHANE III
Zanesville Times Recorder
March 7, 2003
http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/news/stories/20040307/localnews/31533.html

COLUMBUS -- Critics of the state Board of Education's new evolution curriculum hope to derail final approval of the document at the board's monthly meeting next week.

But they admit little has changed since last month, when the board overwhelmingly backed the lesson plan that they say includes intelligent design teachings.

"We're trying to get some signal, but we don't know what will happen," said Lynn Elfner, CEO of the Ohio Academy of Science. "We haven't had any feedback from the governor or anyone else."

In February the board voted 13-4 to give preliminary approval to the evolution curriculum, designed to be a classroom guideline for science teachers.

It includes a chapter titled "Critical analysis of evolution" which recommends 10th-graders debate several common critiques of the theory.

Board member Martha Wise, who tried to have the chapter removed, said the arguments and examples used are those often put forth by proponents of intelligent design, the belief that a higher power played a role in the creation of all life.

"There's a reason to be upset here, because it's not science," she said. "(Intelligent design) is specifically faith-based." But the majority of the board said the curriculum reflects compromised language worked out two years ago when science standards were drafted, after the board considered requiring intelligent design to be taught alongside evolution.

Supporters insist that, as written, the chapter has nothing to do with intelligent design, only critical thinking.

References to one specific intelligent design author were removed from the curriculum's bibliography, and the chapter's foreword states it "does not mandate the teaching of intelligent design."

Board member Michael Cochran, head of the group's standards committee, said he will present the lesson plan to the board next Tuesday without any major revisions because no compelling arguments against the curriculum have been presented.

Board member Jennifer Stewart, who voted against the language last month, said the board hasn't taken enough time to review the concerns outlined by opponents. But she is optimistic that enough revisions have been made to the initial draft that she can vote for it this time.

But Wise said she and other opponents are still lobbying her colleagues to delay final approval and remove the critical analysis chapter. Neither she nor board member Virginia Jacobs, another opponent, were present for last month's vote.

"We only need four votes more, so we're trying to persuade people leading up to the meeting," she said. "There is no room for compromise."

Elfner echoed those comments.

"Our concern is that if this gets past the board it will be touted as a way to get a wedge into the system," he said. "We're not in the mood to compromise."

Elfner said faculty at Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University have rallied against the curriculum, and he expects more academics to petition the board again next week.

He has also asked Gov. Bob Taft to step in and block passage of the curriculum. Taft so far has refused to get involved.

Wise said she thinks if the lesson plan is approved it will leave the board vulnerable to legal action on the basis the state is promoting teaching


Seminar to discuss creationism

By SHAWN ANKROM
Springfield [OH] News-Sun Staff Writer
March 7, 2004
http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/newsfd/auto/feed/news/2004/03/07/1078717452.26609.5851.3270.html

URBANA -- The "Case for Creation" will be offered by First Christian Church as a forum to address scientific and biblical evidence supporting a literal six-day creation of the universe.

The seminar, presented by the Institute for Creation Research, is scheduled from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 19, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 20, in the Grimes Center gymnasium at Urbana University, 579 College Way. Cost is $10 per person or $30 per family.

Henry Morris III, president of ICR, and Frank Sherwin, who specializes in parasitology, are the scheduled speakers.

Mike Stewart, minister at First Christian Church, said a retired high school science teacher brought the idea for the seminar to him about two years ago.

"Science has cast a lot of aspersions on the creation account  ," said Stewart. "Most folks don't realize (evolution) is still just a theory. A lot of Christians' faith have been weakened by the continual bombardment from the scientific community."

Stewart hopes the "Case for Creation" will strengthen the faith of Christian people and help people "who don't yet know Jesus understand that they can trust all of his word."

The Institute for Creation Research holds that all things in the universe were created and made by God in six literal days as described in the Bible. The creation is "factual, historical and perspicuous, thus all theories of origins or development which involve evolution in any form are false," according to the ICR.

The physical universe of space, time, matter and energy has not always existed, according to the institute's tenets of scientific creationism, but "was supernaturally created by a transcendent personal Creator who alone has existed from eternity."

According to ICR, an estimated 92,000 people in 2003 attended ICR-sponsored or -staffed events covering the debate over creation and evolution.


State education panel eyes plan for evolution

By Laura A. Bischoff
Hamilton [OH] Journal News
March 9, 2004
http://www.journal-news.com/news/newsfd/auto/feed/news/2004/03/08/1078803036.26609.5729.3434.html?urac=n

COLUMBUS -- A controversial evolution lesson plan is expected to be approved by the state Board of Education today, despite widespread opposition from scientists and university officials who say it contains creationism.

The 10th-grade biology lesson, "Critical Analysis of Evolution," has been criticized by the National Academy of Sciences, Ohio Academy of Science, the American Society for Cell Biology and others as an attempt by creationists to undermine Ohio science education.

Critics say the lesson contains errors and misrepresentations, uses information from "intelligent design" Web sites and lifts concepts and inaccuracies from material published by intelligent design promoters.

Intelligent design is the idea that life is so complex a higher being must have had a hand in its creation. Critics -- such as educators in Hamilton and Lakota school districts -- say the concept should not be taught in science classes.

"Intelligent design -- the concept that changes in species are guided by a higher spiritual intelligent power -- should not be taught along side evolution in science curricula because it is not science," said Terry White, science instruction specialist for Hamilton City Schools. "To incorporate the intelligent design as science standards would mean students would have to be tested on the new Ohio Science Academic Content Standards and show proficiency in creationism and intelligent design ... Intelligent design is not written in the district's curriculum because it is not considered a science."

Similar thoughts were expressed by Rick Bateman, secondary curriculum director for the Lakota Local School District.

"We've taken the stance that these are science classes, and we deal with scientific issues in a scientific manner," he said. "We are not trying to alter their thinking when it comes to religious background. What we are trying to do is get them to understand what scientific theory means."

However, educators in other Butler County school districts offered a different perspective.

"We take the educational stance when we teach biology that there is more than one theory," said Bonnie Fitzharris, curriculum director for the Fairfield City School District. "So we include such things as Darwinism and creationism, and intelligent design would be one more theory.

"It's not for us to impose our beliefs upon the students, but to give them enough information so that they can form their own," she said.

Similar comments came from Peggy McClusky, Edgewood City Schools curriculum coordinator for secondary subjects.

"I can see where some people would feel we should do one thing or the other and I am not sure whether one point is more right than the other at this time," she said.

Some members of the state board dispute that the lesson plan advances the concept of intelligent design. The state board last month signaled its intent to adopt the plan and is scheduled to take a vote this morning. Department of Education staff suggested that the board consider some changes to the lesson.

Ohio was criticized two years ago when it considered including "intelligent design" in new science standards, on which proficiency and graduation tests are based. The concept did not make it into the standards, but as a compromise it was decided students would be taught that evolutionary theory continues to be critically analyzed. Now board members are in the middle of developing lesson plans to go along with the academic standards.

Florida State University law professor Steven Gey, a leading scholar on religious liberties and free speech, is expected to appear at the board meeting today and testify that it would be unconstitutional to teach the lesson plan in public schools.

"I think if a challenge is brought, I think it will be successful," Gey said.

In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a creation science plan in Louisiana, ruling that it was religion instead of science.

JournalNews reporter Linda Ebbing contributed to this report.


State board again flunks science lesson

Editorial

Dayton Daily News
March 9, 2004
http://www.daytondailynews.com/opinion/content/opinion/daily/0309lesson.html

BY THE TIME OHIO'S BOARD OF EDUCATION votes today on whether to approve a much-criticized 10th-grade biology curriculum, some of the flaws may have been corrected.

Negotiations reportedly were under way to meet at least some objections by Ohio scientists and science teachers who make a convincing case that a specific lesson plan dresses up religious concepts as scientific principle.

A divided board gave preliminary approval to this lesson plan in February. But even if the curriculum is corrected, the board has let the public down by failing from the start to take a strong stance in favor of science. It has allowed religious ideology to erode the reputation of Ohio's education system.

At issue is a lesson plan that's supposed to serve as a model for Ohio high schools. Titled "critical analysis of evolution," the plan represents the latest battle in a fight involving conservative religious groups that are trying to dilute Ohio's science curriculum with allusions to the biblical story of creation.

These groups lobbied openly -- and unsuccessfully -- in 2002 to have "intelligent design" included in the public school curriculum. Proponents of "intelligent design" (including a small number of scientists) use the language of science to argue that an "intelligent designer" -- i.e. God -- is behind biological evolution.

An overwhelming majority of scientists and scientific institutions reject these contentions -- not as matters of philosophy or religion, but as concepts that can be tested through scientific methods. They consider the material to be pseudo-science that actually undermines scientific education.

Still, the state board was badly divided as it developed new "content standards." The standards don't dictate what local schools must teach. But they outline the topics students will be tested on, including in the new Ohio graduation test.

In the end, the board voted against including "intelligent design" among the standards, but only after receiving withering criticism and embarrassing national publicity. To the end, "intelligent design" proponents worked tirelessly to inject the religious-based principles into the state standards.

Meanwhile, committees have convened to develop model lessons plans. The plans are supposed to guide local school districts on how to implement the standards.

Credible science curriculum enables students to critically analyze scientific theory. But the methods for evaluating theory must themselves be grounded in sound scientific theory.

The "model" lesson plan for 10th-graders on how to critically analyze evolutionary science has been criticized on this basis. Mainstream scientists have raise legitimate questions about whether the plan indirectly advances "intelligent design" by endorsing lessons that teach unscientific criticisms of evolution.

The controversy could have been avoided had the school board learned the lessons of the standards fight. But that would have required the board to leave science eduction to scientists and educators.

The board chose politics and ideology again. And, again, the schools suffer.


U.S. Department of Education Backs Academic Freedom on Evolution Controversy

Discovery Institute Press Release
March 9, 2004
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040309/sftu114_1.html

SEATTLE, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Education has given its clear support to the right of state and local school boards to teach the scientific debate that now exists about biological evolution.

In a March 8 letter signed by Acting Deputy Secretary Gene Hickok, the department called official attention to Congressional report language in the No Child Left Behind Act that states that "where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist." The Department further expressed its own support for the "general principles...of academic freedom and inquiry into scientific views or theories."

Advocates of greater intellectual freedom in science education hailed the statement: "The letter is important," notes Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, "because some Darwin-only activists and educational officials have claimed that public schools could risk losing their federal funding if they allow students to learn about current scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory. By affirming the importance of the Santorum language, the executive branch of the federal government has just joined the Congress in making clear that states and local school boards have the right to teach students the scientific controversy that exists about Darwinian evolution and to determine their own science curriculum content."

The letter also made clear that the federal government does not require or prohibit the teaching of any particular scientific view or theory of origins. The letter was circulating Tuesday in Congressional offices.

The Education Department letter was a response to an inquiry from Montana's superintendent of public instruction in which the superintendent apparently asked whether the alternative theory of "intelligent design" was "required" by the federal law. (Intelligent design theory "holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.") The school board in Darby, Montana has not proposed teaching intelligent design, let alone asserting that doing so is "required" under the NCLB act.

"No doubt the Darwin-only lobby will claim the Education Department letter as victory because it makes clear that states are not required to teach the theory of intelligent design," said Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute.

"But the question posed by the Montana state official was a red herring," Chapman stated. "No one that we know of has suggested that the federal law requires teaching intelligent design. At the school board in Darby, Montana, the issue is the same as it is in Ohio and a number of other states; namely, can students be taught about the growing scientific debate over Darwin's theory? The issue before states and localities is not about teaching intelligent design, let alone requiring it, no matter how hard the Darwinists try to spin the topic.

"What the federal government actually does support," Chapman continued, "is 'academic freedom and inquiry' on scientific theories, and that now should be quite plain to any fair-minded observer. If states and localities follow that common sense approach they will not go wrong."

Public opinion polls by the Zogby International organization, and by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, have shown overwhelming public support for teaching the evidence for and against Darwin's theory in public schools. Though a minority within science, hundreds of scientists have indicated their agreement.

"That is why," Chapman said, "Darwinists try to change the terms of the debate to bogus targets."

Source: The Discovery Institute


Ohio School Board OKs Evolution Lesson

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
Associated Press [in Akron Beacon Journal]
Tue, Mar. 09, 2004
http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/8145956.htm

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The state school board Tuesday approved a lesson plan for teaching evolution that includes what critics contend is a religious theory "cloaked as science."

Supporters argued the lesson plan offers scientific ways to analyze evolution, but scientific groups objected and critics said they expected a lawsuit.

After six hours of testimony, the board voted 13-5 in favor of "Critical Analysis of Evolution," an optional set of lessons for schools to use in teaching science for a new graduation test.

Critics say the lessons contain elements of a theory called intelligent design, which states a higher power must have been involved in the creation of life.

"I am convinced this is a religious effort cloaked as science," said board member Robin Hovis.

At issue is 22 pages out of more than 500 that schools can use to teach new science standards approved last year for all grades. No student will be tested on intelligent design, said board president Jennifer Sheets.

The vote was applauded by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports scientists studying intelligent design theory, and says states should teach both evolution and scientific criticism of evolutionary theory.

The vote "is a significant victory for students and their academic freedom to study all sides of current scientific debates over evolutionary theory," said Bruce Chapman, Discovery Institute president.

Board member Sam Schloemer complained the lessons "further erode the status and the value of Ohio's public education system because it is without scientific evidence," he said.

Several scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, are opposed to the lessons.

Others predicted the plan would be challenged in court.

"They're standing in line - high school teachers, board members, parents, the students themselves," said Patricia Princehouse, a Case Western Reserve University philosophy professor who has led lobbying efforts against the lessons.

Board member James Turner, appointed to the board by Gov. Bob Taft, said he was impressed by the number of scientists in favor of the lessons, arguing opponents were "allowing their fear of what this lesson could lead to" to reflect their views.

The board should rely on the guidance of evolutionary biologists with experience studying evolution, argued Stephen Weeks, a University of Akron biologist.

"If someone's an expert and they're telling you they need a brain tumor removed in a certain way, that's weighted more than your mechanic's opinion," Weeks said.

The state school board a lesson plan on evolution Tuesday that critics say tries to cloak religion in science. Supporters say it offers scientific ways to analyze evolution theory.


Ohio School Board Approves Evolution Lesson Plan

Associated Press [in wcpo.com]
Web produced by Neil Relyea
March 9, 2004
http://www.wcpo.com/news/2004/local/03/09/schoolboard.html

The debate over the teaching of evolution appeared ready to move from the state school board to courts following the board's approval Tuesday of an evolution lesson plan over the objections of several scientific organizations.

"They're standing in line -- high school teachers, board members, parents, the students themselves," said Patricia Princehouse, a Case Western Reserve University philosophy professor who has led lobbying efforts against the lessons.

Critics of the lessons say a lawsuit challenging the plan's constitutionality is almost certain. They say it contains elements of intelligent design, the theory that says a higher power must have been involved in the creation of life.

The plan is an optional set of lessons for schools to use in the teaching of science standards for the new tenth-grade graduation test.

The board voted 13-5 in favor of the plan, titled "Critical Analysis of Evolution."

Earlier, the board narrowly rejected an attempt to delay the plan for further study.

Michael Cochran, a suburban Columbus lawyer and elected board member, questioned what further delay would achieve. He noted that scientists had spoken on both sides of the issue.

"The entire scientific community is not monolithic and are not all of one mind," Cochran said.

"Multiple sides of that community deserve to be heard and have a lesson that can be challenged on a scientific basis," said Cochran.

But board member Deborah Owens Fink says the plan "is just good science."

Fink, an elected board member from Akron who voted in favor of the lessons, said the plan did not contain the "intelligent design" elements claimed by its critics.

Robin Hovis, an elected board member from Millersburg, said the plan was still a veiled attempt to introduce intelligent design into schools.

"I am convinced this is a religious effort cloaked as science," Hovis said.

The vote was applauded by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports scientists studying intelligent design and says states should teach both evolution and scientific criticism of evolutionary theory.

The vote "is a significant victory for students and their academic freedom to study all sides of current scientific debates over evolutionary theory," said Bruce Chapman, Discovery Institute president.

Critics of the lesson plan say it includes many of the concepts found in "Icons of Evolution," a book by Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow at the institute.

The state board removed a reference to Wells' book from an earlier draft.

Sam Schloemer, an elected board member from Cincinnati, said the lessons go against state efforts to improve Ohio's educational achievements.

The plan "further erodes the status and the value of Ohio's public education system because it is without scientific evidence," Schloemer said.

But James Turner, like several board members, said he was impressed by the number of scientists in favor of the lessons.

Turner said some opponents were "allowing their fear of what this lesson could lead to" to reflect their views, rather than "what this lesson says."

Turner, of Cincinnati, was appointed by Governor Bob Taft.

The board voted after hearing about six hours of testimony from dozens of people for and against the plan.

Several scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, are opposed to the lessons.

Many scientists supporting the lessons spoke individually in favor of them.

Steven Gey, a Florida State University law professor, told board members the lessons were unconstitutional and would almost certainly be struck down if they reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

At issue are 22-pages out of more than 500-pages of optional lesson plans that schools can use to teach new science standards approved last year for all grades.

No student will be tested on intelligent design, said board president Jennifer Sheets.


State school board set to change evolution lesson plan

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Associated Press [in Fort Wayne, IN Journal Gazette]
Tue, March 9, 2004
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/news/local/8143174.htm

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The president of the state school board says the scientific process matters more than the subject matter in any particular lesson plan.

The board was set to vote on last-minute changes Tuesday to lesson plans on evolution to address concerns of scientists lobbying the board about their content, said board president Jennifer Sheets.

The board's standards committee approved the changes to strengthen the plans' scientific grounding Monday afternoon.

For example, the changes delete references to all Web sites, including those for and against evolution, and add language referring to the methods scientists use to test predictions.

The Ohio Academy of Science has said the lesson plans include anti-evolution positions pushed by backers of the alternate "intelligent design" theory, which says change through time was not random and that life is so complex it must have been designed by a non-specified power.

"As long as we're sure the process is grounded in science, it's not the subject matter that matters so much," Sheets said Monday. "That's what we've tried to do - make sure this lesson is evaluating information based on the scientific method."

At issue is a 10th-grade lesson plan, "Critical Analysis of Evolution," a 22-page portion of a 547-page science lesson plan for all grades.

The academy's position is backed by Case Western Reserve University's faculty senate, a governing body that voted March 2 to oppose the plan.

Several other scientists, including some who support intelligent design, say the lesson plan correctly encourages students to analyze the theory of evolution.

A group of 22 scientists wrote the board last week encouraging it to allow debate on disagreements about evolutionary theory.

"We need to look at things critically," said Al Gotch, chairman of Mount Union College's chemistry department and one of those who signed the letter. "Scientists are not born skeptics, they're trained to be skeptics, and it seems to me this fits in with that process."

Gotch, 42, said he supports the intelligent design concept, and that the lesson plans on evolution should place both sides of the issue before students and permit discussion.

The letter was promoted this week by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports scientists studying intelligent design and says states should teach both evolution and scientific criticism of evolutionary theory.

Critics of the lesson plan say the plan includes many of the concepts found in "Icons of Evolution," a book by Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow at the institute.

The state board removed a reference to Wells' book from an earlier draft. Any connection between the book and the plan "seems inconsequential at best," John West, associate director of the institute's Center for Science and Culture, said in a letter to Sheets last week.

Another scientist, anthropologist Cynthia Beall, said the lesson plan misrepresents scientific terms and includes several elements of intelligent design without using the term.

"There's a religious way of explaining things that's based in religion and belief. When you know something that way, you don't know it scientifically," Beall said. "When you know something in science, you know it from evidence and scientific testing."


Evolution lesson plan approved

Critics say it contains elements of intelligent design

By Laura A. Bischoff
Dayton Daily News
March 10, 2004
http://www.daytondailynews.com/localnews/content/localnews/daily/0310intelligent.html

COLUMBUS | The state Board of Education voted 13-5 Tuesday to adopt science lesson plans, including a controversial 10th-grade lesson on evolutionary biology that has received nationwide attention.

Critics contend the lesson is based on errors, misrepresentations and inaccuracies pushed by supporters of intelligent design -- the idea that life is so complex that a higher being must have had a hand in its creation.

"Ohio is now ground zero for the explosion of creationism that is sure to follow," said Patricia Princehouse, an evolutionary biologist at Case Western Reserve University and an organizer of scientists against intelligent design. Students, parents and teachers are "standing in line" to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this particular lesson plan, she said.

Florida State University constitutional law professor Steven Gey told the board that if a suit is brought and it advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court, the state of Ohio would likely lose on a 6-3 vote.

But the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture in Seattle praised the board's decision, calling it a victory for students, academic freedom and common sense. The Discovery Institute is a think tank focused on challenging Darwinism.

Discovery Institute spokesman Seth Cooper, who attended the meeting in Columbus, said the lesson is about science, not religion, and it does not deal with intelligent design.

Ohio State University biology professor Steve Rissing burst out laughing at Cooper's statement. Rissing, Princehouse and other Ohio scientists critiqued the lesson, Critical Analysis of Evolution, and drew links between its content and proponents of intelligent design.

The 19-member board made its decision after hearing from nearly 50 people -- scientists, theologians, graduate students, science teachers and others -- for almost eight hours.

Richard Hoppe, a biologist and Cleveland businessman who lives in Gambier, said, "In spite of frantic scrubbing by ODE (Ohio Department of Education), the lesson still contains so-called controversies in evolutionary biology that are not in fact controversies in that discipline; obscure, out of date and irrelevant citations; plain errors of fact and interpretation; and false definitions of terms."

The lesson is bad teaching method and bad science, he said.

"It presents a deeply flawed view of scientific endeavor, a view that is fueled by a sectarian politico-religious movement, not by authentic science," Hoppe told the board.

Catherine A. Callaghan, a retired linguistics professor from OSU, used this analogy to criticize the lesson: "If you're studying geology, you don't want a little evidence from the flat Earth society. And yes, there was a flat Earth society up until the 1990s."

But others disagreed, saying evolutionary biology should be critically analyzed.

"If evolution is true, it can withstand the scrutiny. If it's not, our students should learn to discern," said Jack Chafin Jr., an architect from suburban Columbus.

And Thomas Marshall, an engineer and environmental scientist, said the lesson represents good science and critical thinking. To withhold evidence challenging macroevolution would be a disservice to students, he said.

The controversial lesson is just 21 pages of the 12,000 pages in lesson plans the board is developing, said board President Jennifer Sheets of Pomeroy.

By state law, the new model lesson plans, which teachers are not required to use, must be adopted by June 30 so they can be used next school year.

In December 2002, the board adopted new science standards for Ohio's 1.8 million public school students.

The standards dictate what kids need to know to pass proficiency tests and graduate.

A push then to include intelligent design in the science standards failed, but the board approved a standard that students be taught how to critically analyze evolution.

Three 10th-grade biology lessons cover how to critically analyze evolution.

Princehouse, Rissing, Hoppe and other scientists found fault only with the one lesson.

Board members Martha Wise of Avon, Sam Schloemer of Cincinnati, Robin Hovis of Millersburg, Cyrus Richardson of Bethel and Jennifer Stewart of Zanesville voted against adopting the science lesson plans because Critical Analysis of Evolution was included.

Thirteen other board members, including Carl Wick of Centerville and John Griffin of Miami Twp., voted in favor of the science lesson plans. Board member Virginia Jacobs of Lima was absent.

Lynn Elfner, executive director of the Ohio Academy of Science, said the vote reflects a lack of education leadership from Gov. Bob Taft on down.

The Discovery Institute released a list of 30 Ohio scientists who supported the lesson as written. None of the 30 were described as evolutionary biologists.

The Ohio Academy of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, State University Education Deans, the Inter-University Council of Ohio, Ohio Faculty Council, Science Education Council of Ohio, OSU Senate and OSU Faculty Council, Case Western Reserve University and other education and science organizations opposed it.


Plan to teach evolution approved by Ohio board

By Leo Shane III
T-F Columbus Bureau
The Telegraph-Forum of Bucyrus Ohio
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
http://www.bucyrustelegraphforum.com/news/stories/20040310/localnews/51225.html

COLUMBUS -- Hours of criticism from mainstream scientists and several legal threats didn't discourage the state Board of Education on Tuesday from approving new lesson plans to teach evolution in Ohio schools.

The science model curriculum, an optional set of classroom lectures and activities for science teachers, includes a chapter titled "Critical analysis of evolution" that recommends 10th graders debate several common critiques of the theory.

Supporters maintain the document simply fulfills a board compromise from 2002 to include critical thinking about evolution in science classes. But opponents label the section a cleverly disguised way of introducing public school students to intelligent design, which states a higher power played a role in the creation of all life.

"The reason this is being picked out for scientific questioning is not because it is more controversial than other science; it's because some people object to evolution for religious reasons," said the Rev. George Murphy, a Lutheran pastor from Akron and a former biology teacher.

"But this (lesson) encourages students not to take evolution seriously. I'm concerned about this as a scientist and a theologian."

Critics say the lesson plan includes hints of intelligent design arguments -- in the examples it uses to challenge evolution and in the print and Internet resources used to craft the language.

Catherine Callaghan, a linguistics professor at The Ohio State University, said the arguments included in the curriculum should be ignored because they come from unscientific sources.

"If you're teaching geology, you don't want to include a little bit of evidence from the Flat Earth Society," she said.

But the board approved the chapter by a 13 to 5 vote after rebuffing efforts to replace it with compromise language put forth by opponents.

Several members said revised versions of the curriculum excluded a number of Internet links and literary references that took care of any perception that the chapter had religious influences.

"You've never heard me argue for intelligent design because I don't want it in there," said board member Michael Cochran. "But I don't see it in there."

He also criticized opponents' assertions that controversies surrounding evolution are fictional, and took exception at one biologist's characterization of evolution critics as "cartoons."

"It's clear after today the scientific community is not all of one mind on this," he said.

Faculty councils from five universities, including Ohio State, and the Ohio Academy of Science all voiced opposition to the plan. But a number of individual academics also spoke in favor of the controversial lessons Tuesday, saying it encourages healthy scientific debate.

"Critical analysis is part of science," said Thomas Marshall, an environmental science professor at the Ohio State University. "Withholding this evidence would be a disservice to students."

The lesson plans approved Tuesday are one set of several model curriculums schools can use to teach science classes. Individual districts can choose to teach intelligent design. Last year Patrick Henry School District in northwest Ohio decided to include it in science lessons.

Board members who voted against the document predicted the state will be sued for introducing religion into public schools. Board member Martha Wise said she would consider filing suit herself.

Board member Jennifer Stewart voted against the measure, saying she believed the critical analysis requirement was covered in other lesson plans. She hoped her colleagues would remove the chapter so it could be debated further.

Steven Gey, a law professor from Florida State University who attended Tuesday's meeting, said prior federal rulings have kept any sort of religious teachings out of public school classrooms.

"No one has won one of these cases yet," he said. "Once the courts are convinced it's some form of creationism, you're going to lose."


Education board snubs scientists

Evolution lesson plan endorsed

By Leo Shane III
Cincinnati Enquirer Columbus Bureau
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/03/10/loc_ohscience.html

COLUMBUS - Hours of criticism from mainstream scientists and several legal threats didn't discourage the state Board of Education on Tuesday from approving new lesson plans on how to teach evolution in Ohio schools.

The science-model curriculum, an optional set of classroom lectures and activities for science teachers, includes a chapter titled "Critical analysis of evolution" that recommends 10th-graders debate several common critiques of the theory.

Supporters maintain the document simply fulfills a board compromise from 2002 to include critical thinking about evolution in science classes.

But opponents label the section a cleverly disguised way of introducing public-school students to intelligent design, which states that a higher power played a role in the creation of all life.

"The reason this is being picked out for scientific questioning is not because it is more controversial than other science; it's because some people object to evolution for religious reasons," said the Rev. George Murphy, a Lutheran pastor from Akron and a former biology teacher.

"But this (lesson) encourages students not to take evolution seriously. I'm concerned about this, as a scientist and a theologian."

Critics say the lesson plan includes hints of intelligent-design arguments - in the examples it uses to challenge evolution and in the print and Internet resources used to craft the language.

Catherine Callaghan, a linguistics professor at Ohio State University, said arguments included in the curriculum should be ignored, because they come from unscientific sources.

"If you're teaching geology, you don't want to include a little bit of evidence from the Flat Earth Society," she said.

But the board approved the chapter by a 13 to 5 vote after rebuffing efforts to replace it with compromise language put forth by opponents.

Several members said revised versions of the curriculum excluded a number of Internet links and literary references that took care of any perception that the chapter had religious influences.

"You've never heard me argue for intelligent design, because I don't want it in there," said board member Michael Cochran. "But I don't see it in there."

He also criticized opponents' assertions that controversies surrounding evolution are fictional, and took exception to one biologist's characterization of evolution critics as "cartoons."

"It's clear, after today, the scientific community is not all of one mind on this," he said.

Faculty councils from five universities, including Ohio State, and the Ohio Academy of Science all voiced opposition to the plan. But a number of individual academics also spoke in favor of the controversial lessons Tuesday, saying it encourages healthy scientific debate.

"Critical analysis is part of science," said Thomas Marshall, an environmental science professor at Ohio State University.

"Withholding this evidence would be a disservice to students."

The lesson plans approved Tuesday are one set of several model curriculums schools can use to teach science classes. Individual districts can choose to teach intelligent design.

Last year Patrick Henry School District in northwest Ohio decided to include it in science lessons.

Board members who voted against the document predicted the state would be sued for introducing religion into public schools.

Board member Martha Wise said she would consider filing such a suit herself.

Steven Gey, a law professor from Florida State University who attended Tuesday's meeting, said prior federal rulings have kept any sort of religious teachings out of public-school classrooms.

"No one has won one of these cases yet," he said.

"Once the courts are convinced it's some form of creationism, you're going to lose."


Ohio evolution lesson plan irks science groups

Associated Press
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/03/10/evolution.debate.ap/index.html

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The state school board Tuesday approved a lesson plan for teaching evolution that includes what critics contend is a religious theory "cloaked as science."

Supporters argued the lesson plan offers scientific ways to analyze evolution, but scientific groups objected and critics said they expected a lawsuit.

After six hours of testimony, the board voted 13-5 in favor of "Critical Analysis of Evolution," an optional set of lessons for schools to use in teaching science for a new graduation test.

Critics say the lessons contain elements of a theory called intelligent design, which states a higher power must have been involved in the creation of life.

"I am convinced this is a religious effort cloaked as science," said board member Robin Hovis.

At issue is 22 pages out of more than 500 that schools can use to teach new science standards approved last year for all grades. No student will be tested on intelligent design, said board president Jennifer Sheets.

The vote was applauded by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports scientists studying intelligent design theory, and says states should teach both evolution and scientific criticism of evolutionary theory.

The vote "is a significant victory for students and their academic freedom to study all sides of current scientific debates over evolutionary theory," said Bruce Chapman, Discovery Institute president.

Board member Sam Schloemer complained the lessons "further erode the status and the value of Ohio's public education system because it is without scientific evidence," he said.

Several scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, are opposed to the lessons.

Others predicted the plan would be challenged in court.

"They're standing in line -- high school teachers, board members, parents, the students themselves," said Patricia Princehouse, a Case Western Reserve University philosophy professor who has led lobbying efforts against the lessons.

Board member James Turner, appointed to the board by Gov. Bob Taft, said he was impressed by the number of scientists in favor of the lessons, arguing opponents were "allowing their fear of what this lesson could lead to" to reflect their views.

The board should rely on the guidance of evolutionary biologists with experience studying evolution, argued Stephen Weeks, a University of Akron biologist.

"If someone's an expert and they're telling you they need a brain tumor removed in a certain way, that's weighted more than your mechanic's opinion," Weeks said.

The state school board a lesson plan on evolution Tuesday that critics say tries to cloak religion in science. Supporters say it offers scientific ways to analyze evolution theory.


Religious leaders, scholars have mixed reviews on intelligent design

By Whitney Ellis
Hamilton Journal-News (Ohio)
March 10, 2004
http://www.journal-news.com/news/newsfd/auto/feed/news/2004/03/09/1078890442.26609.6334.3714.html

BUTLER COUNTY -- The passing of the 10th grade lesson plan on evolution by the Ohio school board in Columbus Tuesday has sparked controversy between some local scientists and others in favor of a theory which challenges evolution.

Professors and others in favor of "intelligent design" -- the idea that life is so complex a higher being must have had a hand in its creation -- have drawn mixed reactions.

At least one religious leader in the area said he welcomes the possible entry of the theory.

"(Intelligent design) should be presented as an option in the schools," said Pastor Ken Ritz of the Hamilton Vineyard Church. "I believe we are intelligently designed."

Ritz said the move to intelligent design is a "healthy thing to consider" for the schools.

Some scientists agreed the theory should be considered.

Dan Ely, a University of Akron biologist, said the plan of intelligent design is scientifically sound and allows appropriate questioning of evolution.

"It's not intelligent design versus evolution. It's not religion versus science. It's what are the issues within evolution," Ely said. "This lesson doesn't throw out evolution."

Ely was a member of the team that helped write the lesson plan before the state board Tuesday.

The board voted 13-5 in favor of the plan, titled "Critical Analysis of Evolution." The lesson is an optional set of plans for schools to use in the teaching of science standards for the new 10th grade graduation test.

But for Miami University zoologists Tom Gregg and Susan Hoffman, the plan is a failed attempt to mix religion into the schools.

"There will almost certainly be a lawsuit resulting from this," Gregg said, adding that the passage of this is like "introducing religion into a science class."

Gregg said the claim that all evidence the intelligent design theorists found was scientific is false.

"This is going to make Ohio a laughing stock like Kansas was a few years ago before they reversed their decision on creationism," Gregg said.

Hoffman said the state board Tuesday cleared up some major points, but didn't change some of the underlying problems with the lesson plans.

"The way the classes are set up is modeled after a creationist book," Hoffman said, referring to "Icons of Evolution," by Jonathan Wells. Wells' book attempts to discredit many scientists who use evolution as a correct theory.

The state board removed a reference to Wells' book from an earlier draft. Any connection between the book and the plan "seems inconsequential at best," John West, associate director of the institute's Center for Science and Culture, said in a letter to Sheets last week.

Hoffman said nearly all practicing scientists use evolutionary theory as the basis for their understanding of life on Earth.

Before the board's passing, Hoffman sent a letter to the state board -- as well as to Gov. Bob Taft -- expressing her displeasure for the new lesson plan.


Educators, students have mixed reactions

By KIESHA JENKINS
Zanesville Times Recorder
March 10, 2004
http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/news/stories/20040310/localnews/46761.html

Although students and teachers have discussed evolution and varying thoughts for years, a decision Tuesday made future debate possible for 10th grade classes throughout the state.

The state Board of Education passed Tuesday a set of classroom lectures and activities for science teachers that leaves open critical analysis of evolution. The curriculum suggests sophomores debate common critiques of the theory, but opponents argue it's a way of introducing intelligent design -- the idea that a higher power played a role in the creation of all life -- into public schools.

Stephen Dixon has taught chemistry and physics at Philo High School for 31 years. Dixon said he wouldn't have a problem with changing the way evolution is taught.

"I teach about the big bang (theory) and evolution, but I don't teach it as unquestionable scientific fact," Dixon said. "I try to show some fallacies with the classical evolution theory and the scientific objections."

Dixon recognized critics of intelligent design are skeptical of its religious implications.

"Die-hard evolutionists say it's an attempt to put religion back in schools," Dixon said. "The creationist answer to that is that evolution is the religion of the humanist, and an attempt to keep God out of school."

One side effect of introducing new methods of teaching evolution is debate. Many proponents of the changes believe students should be presented with both evolution and intelligent design -- and then be able to debate among themselves.

Dixon said he doesn't directly encourage debate among his students, but he allows them to speak their piece. "If there are two diverse opinions I make sure both get to speak their minds," he said.

David Pitcock, 18, is a senior at Zanesville High School who fails to see what would be gained from debate in the classroom. He said he thinks the current method of teaching evolution should stand.

"I learned a lot about evolution, and all the application I've used in my life has been pretty good," Pitcock said.

Debate could just bring about controversy, which could lead to animosity or fighting between students with radically different opinions, Pitcock said. "I'm not sure if that would make it more educational."

Morgan Lothes, 15, is a freshman at ZHS. She said her science teacher encouraged debate about evolution.

"The classroom should be open to everything, not just one way or the other," Lothes said. "You can't change what people think about it. It shouldn't be forced into someone's head because that's what somebody else thinks."

Lothes added that she didn't think debate in the classroom would cause problems.

"That's a stupid thing to fight about," she said. "It would probably just open people's minds to different theories."

kkjenkin@nncogannett.com


Panel OKs disputed 10th-grade biology plan

Scott Stephens
Cleveland Plain Dealer
March 10. 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1078914742102330.xml

Columbus- A sharply divided state school board Tuesday narrowly approved a controversial 10th-grade biology lesson that scientists fear will allow creationism into high school science classrooms.

The board voted 10-7 to include the 22-page lesson, "Critical Analysis of Evolution," as part of the state's 547 pages of model lesson plans for science. The board then approved the entire package of science lessons by a 13-5 vote.

The state is now bracing itself for an almost certain legal challenge. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio said it is monitoring the fate of the disputed lesson plan and whether it will sue. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 struck down creation science in schools on the grounds that it was a religion rather than a science.

"This is religiously bent and it's sending a message to local boards of education that they can circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court," said board member Martha Wise of Avon.

Tuesday's vote came after hours of testimony from more than 50 scientists, educators and clergy members, as well as months of intense lobbying from both sides. The board last month gave the lesson plan preliminary approval by a 13-4 vote.

To critics - including the Ohio Academy of Science, the National Academy of Sciences and the faculty senate of Case Western Reserve University - the lesson plan represents one of the first successful attempts to wedge religion into a public school science classroom. They contend the plan is based on the tenets of intelligent design - the concept that life is so complex that a higher being must have created it.

"It fosters the idea that evolution should be doubted and questioned in some special way," said the Rev. George Murphy, pastor at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron and a former college physics professor. "I don't think it's the appropriate thing to be done in a 10th-grade science class."

But supporters - including a group of 22 Ohio scientists who wrote to the board last week - counter that the lesson plan strikes a blow for academic freedom and by encouraging debate about Charles Darwin's theory that life evolved through natural processes.

"Are we about teaching students how to think, or what to think?" asked Christian Hogg, a parent and a supporter of the lesson plan.

The lesson plans the board adopted Tuesday are part of the model science curriculum based on academic standards its members adopted in late 2002. Teachers are not forced to teach the plans, but students can be tested on the standards to which they are aligned.

Although the 10th-grade science standards suggested discussion of controversies within evolution, they specifically stated that they did not represent an endorsement of intelligent design. Supporters of the lesson plan said it does not include intelligent design but reflects what Ohioans want taught in science class.

"We're sending a very strong message to the public that these are Ohio's standards with very strong input from the public," said board member Deborah Owens Fink, of Richfield.


Ohio board OKs criticism of evolution

Decision called 'victory for common sense' over 'scientific dogmatism'

World Net Daily
March 10, 2004
http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=37508

The Ohio State Board of Education voted 10-7 yesterday to approve a model lesson plan that takes a critical look at Darwinian evolution.

The 10th-grade biology lesson plan, called a "Critical Analysis of Evolution," was created to implement a benchmark in the state science standards that requires students to be able to "Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

"The board's decision is a significant victory for students and their academic freedom to study all sides of current scientific debates over evolutionary theory," said Bruce Chapman, president of Discovery Institute, an organization that examines scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution. "It's also a victory for common sense against the scientific dogmatism of those who think evolution should be protected from any critical examination."

The lesson plan asks students to examine various debates over parts of evolutionary theory that are discussed in science journals, such as whether microevolutionary processes are sufficient to explain macroevolution, explained the Discovery Institute in a statement.

While Discovery Institute says the lesson plan does not discuss religion or alternative scientific theories such as "intelligent design," opponents of the plan claim it does. Critics say the lesson contains errors and misrepresentations, uses information from intelligent design websites and lifts concepts and inaccuracies from material published by intelligent design promoters, reported the Daytona Daily News.

Created with input from a science advisory committee that included teachers, science educators and scientists from across Ohio, the lesson plan was defended by a number of scientists in public testimony before the board yesterday, Discovery Institute said.

"Ohio's science standards and this lesson will stand as a beacon to other states as they review their own approach to how evolution is presented in the classroom," said Chapman. "This is a common-sense approach that avoids the extremes and focuses on teaching students about the scientific debates over evolution."


Ohio Schools Adopt Curriculum Critically Challenging Evolution

By Jim Brown
Agape Press
March 12, 2004
http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/3/122004b.asp

(AgapePress) - The Ohio State Board of Education's adoption of an optional science lesson for schools called "Critical Analysis of Evolutionary Theory" is being hailed as a victory for Ohio public school students and families.

By a 13-5 vote, Ohio's education board members decided to implement a first for public schools in America -- a curriculum that allows for the discussion of evidence supporting and opposing the theory of macroevolution, or common descent. Dr. Bob Lattimer, a research chemist and co-founder of the group Science Excellence for All Ohioans, says he hopes the board's vote will set a precedent -- not only for Ohio, but also for the entire United States.

"I think over time other states will look at this lesson and develop similar ones of their own," Lattimer says. He notes that each state has its own processes, but all review their science standards periodically.

"When those [standards] come up for adoption, I think other states will certainly look at this lesson, and we're certainly hopeful that they'll adopt similar ones," the says.

The "Critical Analysis of Evolutionary Theory" lesson plan contains exploration of five basic problem areas with the theory of evolution. Lattimer says the two areas that are the most obvious and that will receive the most attention are the fossil record and the idea of homologies, or comparisons between various organisms.

Lattimer also notes that, despite what has been portrayed by the secular media, the lesson does not include religious content or the promotion of any alternative theories. "Our opposition has been very intent to paint this lesson as something that promotes religion -- intelligent design, creationism or both."

But in fact, "It actually has no content that is religious at all. It's totally science," Lattimer says.

The scientist and educational excellence advocate adds that the next step for his group is to get test questions pertaining to criticisms of evolution included on Ohio's statewide assessment exams.


Intelligent deisgn debated

Athens teachers, students say creationism doesn't belong

Matt Gallagher
Athens Messenger
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
http://www.athensmessenger.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=7672&SectionID=1&SubSectionID=&S=1

Athens High School science teachers contend that intelligent design isn't something that can be tested and proved, and therefore has no place in the classroom.

On Tuesday, the state school board voted 13-5 in favor of a 10th grade lesson plan, "Critical Analysis of Evolution," that includes elements of intelligent design, the theory that says a higher power must have been involved in the creation of life. The board's vote came after members were lobbied by scientists on both sides of the issue, according to an Associated Press report.

Tom Stork, an Athens High School biology teacher, served as an adviser to the board that developed the state standards for science. The debate on whether to include intelligent design as a theory taught in science classes was alive and well even as the standards were being developed, but most of the advisers stuck to their guns that it had no place in public education, and couldn't be included in the curriculum standards or on the proficiency tests, Stork said.

"The Supreme Court maintains that creationism and intelligent design just isn't science," Stork said. "How do you test that? You can test evolutionary development and see how many complex systems are arrived at over time. That kind of support is only available with the theory of evolution. Intelligent design is faith-based. Evolution is science-based."

Eric Miller, a 10th grade science teacher at Athens High, agreed.

"Intelligent design just isn't science," Miller said. "Intelligent design is faith-based. It's religion. You can't teach it."

Amy Simpson, an Athens High School junior, questioned what exactly could be taught when it came to the concept of intelligent design.

"What is there to teach?" Simpson said. "It's just a religious belief, but the scientific aspect is just a belief as well. You can't prove it. There's more proof available for the evolutionary theory. But, if they make me learn intelligent design, I will be willing to learn."

There's simply more to learn from evolutionary theory than intelligent design, said Adrienne Tevis, a senior at Athens High.

"There are better topics to learn in science class that apply to real life," Tevis said. "Creationism is whatever you want to think it is. You can't teach something that isn't fact."

But Esther Giesey, a junior at Athens, maintained that intelligent design has its place in education.

"I think it should be included," Giesey said. "I believe in intelligent design more than anything else. It's just as valid as evolution, if not more so, in my opinion."

Several scientific organizations, including the Ohio Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, are opposed to the lessons that include the intelligent design aspects, according to the AP report. However, the state school board also received a letter signed by 300 scientists nationally that criticized part of Darwin's theory of evolution.


Good News from Ohio, Teaching the Controversy

BreakPoint with Charles Colson
March 12, 2004
http://www.pfm.org/BPtemplate.cfm?Section=BreakPoint_Home&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=11882

How about some very good news, to brighten your day?

Recently, I told you that the academic freedom of high school students and teachers in Ohio was in serious jeopardy. At stake was the adoption of a groundbreaking new science curriculum, that allows for the "critical analysis" of evolutionary theory--a basic freedom that scientists themselves take for granted.

But many American science organizations oppose the Ohio curriculum and lobbied hard against it. They said--falsely--that it brought religion into the science classroom.

Well, on March 9, despite heavy pressure, the Ohio State Board of Education voted 13 to 5 to adopt the new curriculum. And that's very good news.

In fact, this good news could make a difference right where you live. People in other states like Minnesota are considering doing what Ohio did. And don't forget the Santorum amendment to the federal education law, which encourages this very thing.

Let me give you a good resource in this effort, a new book just published by Michigan State University Press, Darwinism, Design, and Public Education. It is edited by John Angus Campbell and Stephen Meyer, and the book promotes an educational proposal that Campbell and Meyer call "teaching the controversy."

Here's how it works. "When two groups of experts disagree about a controversial subject," say Campbell and Meyer, "students should learn about both perspectives. Teachers should not teach as true only one competing view. Instead, they should describe competing views to students and explain the arguments for and against these views."

Rather than teach only Darwin's theory, as many in the science establishment insist, or eliminate any mention of evolution, as some well meaning (Christian) parents have advocated, Campbell and Meyer say they should teach students about Darwinian evolution and also the scientific controversies that surround it. Basic scientific literacy requires that students know both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution.

And this is what the Ohio Board of Education has decided. In Ohio, science education standards mandate that students should know "how scientists critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The new curriculum implements that policy by teaching students about cutting edge criticisms of evolutionary theory that scientists themselves are discussing.

This approach has proven popular with everybody except entrenched defenders of Darwinism. Public opinion polls consistently show that more than 70 percent of Americans and of Ohioans support this policy. Nationally, there are now more than three hundred scientists who have signed a statement expressing skepticism about Darwinism. These scientists recommend an open and "careful examination of the evidence."

Yet, staunch Darwinists still say they are going to sue the Ohio State Board for allowing students to do that. They are unlikely to prevail, in my opinion.

I recommend that you get the book Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, which will show you how in other states we can do the same thing Ohiohas done. This will not only benefit students, but it will also provide true academic freedom. The time has come.

For further reading and information:


Ohio dressing up religion as science

Sam Fulwood
Cleveland Plain Dealer
March 13, 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/sam_fulwood/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1079173995257381.xml

My blue-haired Aunt Willa, who died while I was in college studying science, claimed her heavenly reward with the unshakable belief that man never walked on the moon.

"You don't really believe that, do you?" she said, eyebrows raised like McDonald's golden arches.

But, Aunt Willa, you saw it on television, didn't you?

She was a churchgoing woman and believed the Bible as the literal and unchallenged word of her maker. To her, those grainy black-and-white images of Neil Armstrong's giant leap for mankind were created on a Hollywood sound stage, a blasphemous assumption of God's role in ordering the universe.

"They faked that and put it on television to fool dummies like you," she said, despite the encyclopedic evidence to the contrary. "God never intended us to be messing with the moon. And, you know, the weather hasn't been right since they started sending rockets up there anyway."

Aunt Willa was an elementary-school teacher. Hundreds of children learned science in her classroom during the many decades she taught.

I have a feeling that many of her former pupils are now members of the Ohio Board of Education, which this week opened the schoolhouse door to proponents of "intelligent design" creationists, in other words by encouraging criticism of evolution in 10th-grade biology classes.

This decision will be challenged in court, as it should be. Proponents of ID are determined to push their fundamentalist Christian ideology into the schools. They won't succeed; no less an authority than the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that creationism is religion masquerading as science.

But the Ohio school board didn't get that memo, voting 10-7 to undermine science with religious dogma.

Zealots have a long history of confusing their beliefs with science. Clerics and their political henchmen have always done their darnedest to return the nonbelievers to the Dark Ages.

Who can forget poor Nicolas Copernicus, who feared publishing De Revolutionibus because it said the earth rotates on its axis once daily and travels around the sun once yearly.

This flew in the face of what the church believed to be the divine order, that man is higher than and not a part of the natural world.

Aunt Willa believed that, and so, it seems, does the state Board of Education.

Listening to the twisted logic employed by the board brings to mind how 17th century holy men and legislators treated the religious heretics of their day.

Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruno, for example, were Italian scientists and contemporaries of Copernicus. They expanded on his theories to speculate that the space around the earth was boundless and might contain cover your ears, Ohio state Board of Education other solar systems equal to or larger than our own.

For this kind of talk, Galileo was threatened with torture and death, forced to beg forgiveness and imprisoned for life.

Bruno wasn't so lucky. He was burned at the stake.

The Ohio Board of Education hasn't ordered public executions for nonbelievers, thank goodness.

But I'd bet my last dollar that if my Aunt Willa were alive and still teaching in her classroom, they'd nominate her for Science Teacher of the Year.

To reach this Plain Dealer columnist: sfulwood@plaind.com, 216-999-5250


How state board thinking evolved on biology lesson

Scott Stephens
Cleveland Plain Dealer
03/14/04
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/107926172824530.xml

Bob Lattimer sounded a lot like a prophet when he spoke to fellow "intelligent design" believers last November in Minneapolis.

The Hudson chemist predicted Ohio would adopt a controversial 10th-grade biology lesson that encouraged students to challenge evolution, Charles Darwin's widely accepted theory that life on Earth descended from common ancestors.

"Now, as I say, the opposition is trying to get this removed, and we're reasonably confident they won't be able to get it removed " Lattimer said at the Intelligent Design Network symposium Nov. 15 at the University of Minnesota. "The debate this year has been very quiet, it's not been in the news, and that's good."

Eventually, the lesson plan, "Critical Analysis of Evolution," made big news. When the Ohio Board of Education voted, 13-5, last week to include it in the state's curricula, it was a national story.

To critics, the lesson plan promotes a new form of creation science, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled is illegal to teach in public schools because it endorses a religious belief.

"Ohio is now ground zero for the explosion of creationism that is sure to follow," said Patricia Princehouse, an evolutionary biologist at Case Western Reserve University.

Nonsense, say supporters of the new lesson plan. They argue it contains no direct references to creationism or intelligent design, which maintains life is so complex that a higher being must have had a hand in its creation. The lesson plan simply encourages students to have a rigorous debate about aspects of evolution, supporters say.

"I am not aware of any other states that have officially encouraged this kind of lesson," said John Calvert, a retired Kansas City, Mo., lawyer who heads the Intelligent Design Network.

But the board's action left some wondering how the 19-member body, which collectively said 15 months ago that it was not endorsing intelligent design, could adopt a lesson plan many scientists say is lifted directly from the best-known texts of that movement.

There is no consensus about how the lesson plan, castigated by mainstream groups such as the National Academy of Sciences and the Ohio Academy of Science, gained such strong support. Instead, people who observed and participated in the debate and the behind-the- scenes machinations say several factors made the plan's adoption possible.

Factor 1: Writing team members

During his Minnesota talk, Lattimer said intelligent-design advocates were able to get only four of their people on the 40-member science-writing to compose the lesson plans. But, Lattimer noted, three of those ended up on the crucial, seven- member subgroup assigned to write 10th-grade biology lessons.

"And they have had a great influence on the group," said Lattimer, who co-founded the pro-intelligent design Science Excellence for All Ohioans (SEAO).

One of those three, a high school teacher who wrote the initial draft of the controversial "Critical Analysis of Evolution," testified in support of intelligent design at hearings before the state board in 2002.

Some members of the writing committee were shocked.

"My first impression of the critical-analysis lesson was one of disbelief," said John Neth, a retired teacher and a fellow member of the subgroup.

But SEAO hardly stacked the deck, Lattimer said last week. He added that a fair representation of intelligent-design advocates on the subgroup was not improper represented the majority opinion of Ohioans.

"The last I heard, three out of seven is not a majority, so I'm not sure what the complaint is," Lattimer said. "After all, 75 percent of Ohioans in the 2002 public input phase said they wanted this kind of lesson."

Factor 2: Makeup of the board

The board that adopted the critical-analysis lesson plan has four people who were not members in December 2002 when it unanimously approved new standards.

But it's difficult to judge the effect of that change.

Two new members, Sam Schloemer of Cincinnati and Rob Hovis of Millersburg, were staunchly against the lesson plan.

Hovis sponsored an amendment to remove the critical-analysis plan from the curricula. That failed, 10-7, with one abstention.

A third new member, John Griffin of West Carrollton, supported Hovis' amendment to remove the plan, but voted for it after the amendment failed. Griffin has been involved in Democratic Party politics, but is viewed as an independent on the board whose votes are difficult to predict.

The fourth new member, Stephen Millett of Columbus, supported the critical-analysis lesson plan. He is a nationally renowned expert on technologies and products of the future and is a longtime staff member of the prestigious Battelle Memorial Institute, the world's largest independent not-for-profit research center.

He disappointed some scientists, who viewed him as a potential swing vote.

"It reflects poorly on an institution like Battelle," said Lynn Elfner, chief executive of the Ohio Academy of Science.

Millett said that's unfair and presumptuous. He said that as an at-large board member appointed by the governor, he represents Ohioans, not Battelle.

He also said the lesson plan the board adopted contained a variety of changes suggested by the National Academy of Sciences.

"I saw this not as the interjection of religion into the classroom," Millett said. "I saw it as freedom of thought. . . this is subject to feedback and revision for at least a year."

While Gov. Bob Taft stayed out of the debate, his eight appointments supported the critical-analysis lesson plan. Conversely, all seven board members who voted to remove the plan from the curricula were elected to serve geographic districts.

Factor 3: Leadership

In this case, silence was golden.

Taft's silence was interpreted by critics as a tacit approval of the plan, although the governor's staff argued he was just letting the school board do its job.

Board President Jennifer Sheets of Pomeroy said little, but clearly and consistently supported the plan.

Likewise, State Superintendent Susan Tave Zelman kept a poker face, but sounded satisfied with the curriculum after it passed last week.

"The lesson plan is extremely explicit that those issues are to be discussed using the scientific method," Zelman told the Associated Press.

Michael Cochran of Blacklick, a board member who supported the lesson plan, replaced the more moderate Joe Roman of Fairview Park, whose term expired, as chairman of the standards committee. That's the committee that considers and amends the plans and moves them for a board vote.

Only the board's vice president, Richard Baker of Hollansburg, mixed it up publicly with critics.

"These scientists, they don't care about wasting their own time or anybody else's time," Baker said. "(They're) just a bunch of paranoid, egotistical scientists afraid of people finding out (they) don't know anything."

Elfner saw it differently.

"It reflects a lack of educational leadership in Ohio, from the governor on down," he said.

Factor 4: The Wedge

The school board's discussion about how to best teach the origin and development of life on Earth began in January 2002. That's when Calvert, head of the national Intelligent Design Network, spoke to the board standards committee during a meeting at a suburban Columbus motel on a cold Sunday night.

Calvert was not present when the board adopted the critical-analysis lesson plan, but Seth Cooper was. A member of the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute, he came in from Seattle to observe, and waited patiently as the board voted.

Ohio was seen by intelligent-design backers as a state to test "The Wedge Strategy," a plan designed to replace the "destructive moral aspects" of scientific materialism with a theistic view that human beings and nature were created by God.

While the controversial concept is not mentioned in the new lesson plan, advocates claimed victory and opponents vowed to fight the matter in court.

"It is the thin edge of wedge," Hovis said while urging board colleagues to remove the critical-analysis lesson. "It will set a precedent."

Opponents of the plan complained last fall they had trouble getting copies of the proposal, and they failed to generate much media attention. By the time they were able to drum up interest, the plan was nearing a vote.

"Hopefully, it'll stay out of the news," Lattimer told the intelligent-design symposium last fall. "We don't really think it deserves a big flap."


Science lessons and political science

Chris Sheridan
Cleveland Plain Dealer
March 14, 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/chris_sheridan/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1079174128257381.xml

Let's not pretend that the firestorm surrounding an Ohio science lesson has much to do with academics.

Despite all of the professors and Ph.Ds who've weighed in on the argument, the central issue involves neither knowledge nor pedagogy - it's politics, pure and simple.

Just as the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" was more a cultural war than a legal one, today's science skirmishes have less to do with the details of classroom activities than the larger questions of who controls our public schools - and what happens in them.

Ohio's most recent imbroglio over evolution - specifically, a model lesson plan called a "Critical Analysis of Evolution" - exists only because of a compromise struck about 15 months ago over whether to include a concept known as intelligent design in the state's science standards. Sometimes derided as "stealth creationism," intelligent design posits that organisms did develop over time, but that the changes were so complex and sophisticated that they must have been guided by a higher power. (Creationists, by contrast, accept the biblical description of a world given instant, fully developed life by God). After months of debate and testimony in 2002, the State Board of Education ultimately decided to exclude intelligent design from its outline of topics students must know. Nevertheless, as part of that action the board also required that students be able to "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

The phrase, repeated six times in the 311-page standards document, became the proverbial hole that a Mack truck could plow through; in this case, the truck was loaded full of ideas propagated by intelligent design advocates. Thus, amid 41 new lessons span ning pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, is one 10th-grade activity that encourages stu dents to consider evo lution and its critics.

Early drafts of the guide included refer ences and wording culled directly from the writings of intelligent design supporters. Critics complained students would leave the activity not with a greater understanding of reasoning and evidence supporting evolution - but rather the belief that this long-accepted scientific theory is little more than an unproven "supposition."

The mainstream scientists' much-heralded 2002 "victory" suddenly appeared Pyrrhic indeed.

In the months since the draft lessons became public late last year, Ohioans who railed against including intelligent design in the standards in 2002 rallied again. They raised the specter of religion in the classroom, offered nearly word-by-word rebuttals of the lesson and even developed an alternate activity they said would accomplish the stated goal. Their lobbying led to significant content changes, but failed to convince officials to scrap the draft lesson altogether. After last week's board vote, a pro-intelligent design group declared a victory for academic freedom, while a critic complained that the state had moved a step closer to turning desks into church pews.

Both sides, clearly, have engaged in hyperbole. True, the very idea of a critical evaluation of evolution exists only because of the efforts of those who support intelligent design. Critics insist that even the watered-down lesson essentially indicts evolution by improperly using scientific terms and concepts and more, by implying that scientific truths are something that can be discerned through debate rather than rigorous testing. Their points hold water, but ignore that plenty of the content is values-neutral. More important, each side neglects even to address the most fundamental point: What's taught in a classroom has far more to do with the teacher in the classroom than this document that fired such debate in recent months.

Remember, Tennessee teacher and coach John Scopes became part of history because he believed in teaching evolution - even though state law prohibited it. Four decades later, a young high school teacher, Susan Epperson, challenged Arkansas' 1928 law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, a case that eventually prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to rule the law an unconstitutional breach of the boundary between church and state. And a collection of Louisiana teachers and parents set the most relevant Supreme Court precedent when they successfully challenged that state's law that if teachers explained evolution, they had to include creationism.

Do the standards and lessons matter? Of course. But more important is what individual teachers do with them. Some inevitably will bias their teaching toward intelligent design or even outright creationism. Read the lesson, though; it's chock-full of terms like "genetic drift," "taxonomy," "endosymbiosis" and "homology." If even some of these higher-level concepts reach kids' minds, Ohio's science teaching will be far more successful than it is today.

Is the lesson ideal? No. But nor is it anywhere near equivalent to hanging crosses in public classrooms. It is, rather, just one more fracas in a battle that is unlikely to end as long as adults care what kids learn.

Sheridan is an associate editor of The Plain Dealer's editorial pages.

Contact Chris Sheridan at: csheridan@plaind.com, 216-999-4928


Lesson plan could mean that Ohio will become creationism battleground

Debate keeps evolving

Editorial
Columbus Dispatch
Sunday, March 14, 2004
http://www.ncseweb2.org/pn/by%20paid%20subscription%20only

The State Board of Education made sure that the debate in Ohio over the teaching of evolution vs. intelligent design won't vanish anytime soon.

The board voted 13-5 on Tuesday to adopt a life-sciences lesson plan for 10 th-graders that opens the door to discussion of intelligent design. The lesson plan will continue to be opposed by many science educators and might be the subject of a federal lawsuit.

Proponents of intelligent design argue that life forms are too complex to be explained by evolution and must be the result of a higher power. The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent-design research, hailed the lesson plan.

Most scientists say intelligent design, which has the support of a minority of scientists, is a dressed-up version of creationism, which often is called a science but is not one.

Board member Robin C. Hovis of Millersburg failed in a bid to strip the 21-page section, "The Critical Analysis of Evolution," from the plan and subject it to more study. He was correct when he called the board's vote the "beginning, not the end" of the controversy.

Patricia Princehouse, who teaches evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, predicts that the state will become "ground zero" for an explosion in the teaching of creationism.

We hope she's exaggerating. First, intelligent design is not a valid approach to the analysis of evolution. Second, the state needs an ongoing debate about jobs and economic recovery, not the teaching of evolution.

The Dispatch reiterates its opposition to the lesson plan on the grounds that the intelligent-design approach is rooted in religious beliefs, not in science.

The lesson plan is optional, and the controversial section is just one part of a 547-page document. Life-sciences teachers who choose to use it should stress to students that challenges to prevailing evolutionary theory must be based on methods grounded in science. Principals and school boards should reject pressures to include intelligent design in the science curriculum.

Many backers of Darwinian theory are deeply religious; science and faith don't cancel out one another. The beauty of religious beliefs is that they are based on faith. A person's spirituality is built on ideas that can't be tested in the lab.

Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, writes: "By definition, science cannot consider supernatural explanations: If there is an omnipotent deity, there is no way that a scientist can exclude or include it in a research design. This is especially clear in experimentalresearch design: an omnipotent deity cannot be 'controlled' (as one wag commented, 'You can't put God in a test tube or keep him out of one.')"

Proponents stress that the lesson plan doesn't mandate that intelligent design be taught. But the outline provides ample opportunity for the prevailing theory to be challenged in favor of intelligent design and other alternatives.

The lesson plan, intended to prepare students for a proficiency test, calls teachers' and students' attention to several Web sites, some of which contain information in favor of intelligent design.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is studying whether the links to intelligent design are grounds for litigation. Law professor Dennis Hirsch of Capital University says that singling out evolution as a scientific theory to be critically analyzed might suggest a religious motivation.

Whether this approach can be defined in legal terms as the promulgation of a religious belief is a question that the U.S. Supreme Court someday might answer.

But Ohio's schools don't have to wait for that decision. They can and should bar intelligent design from science classes now.


Model lesson plan encourages students to analyze theories

Cleveland Plain Dealer
March 14, 2004
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/107926174324530.xml

The State Board of Education passed new science standards in 2002. Last week, members approved the first set of model lesson plans that teachers can use in class.

The one plan that has drawn controversy is "Critical Analysis of Evolution - Grade 10."

The board summarizes it this way:

"The lesson allows students to critically analyze five different aspects of evolutionary theory: homology (anatomical and molecular), fossil record, antibiotic resistance, peppered moths and endosymbiosis.

"As new scientific data emerge, scientists' understanding of the natural world may become enhanced, modified or even changed altogether.

"Using library and Internet sources, groups of students will conduct background re search for one of the aspects of evolution in preparation for a critical analysis discussion. Students will also listen to, and take notes on, their classmates' critical analyses of evolution theory.

"The lesson should be used midway or toward the end of a unit on evolution. This will allow students to 'carry over' their knowledge of basic evolutionary concepts.

"The strength of this lesson lies in having students research topics that interest them about evolutionary biology. Students are encouraged to consider the research and discuss their findings with fellow students."

The full text can be found at www.ode.state.oh.us/ academic_content_standards/ sciencesboe/scisboe_contents.asp


Science teachers wary: Fear new lessons based on religion

By Crystal Harden
Cincinnati Post staff reporter
March 15, 2004
http://www.cincypost.com/2004/03/15/evo031504.html

Many Greater Cincinnati science teachers who warily watched the state debate a controversial lesson plan for evolution say they cringe at the thought of encouraging theories that are based more on religion than science.

The Ohio Board of Education included the hotly debated 10th-grade lesson critiquing evolution this week as part of a 547-page science lesson plan for all grades. School districts can use the model lesson plans to teach concepts that will be on state achievement tests.

But they are not required to use the plan, though the state may put the critique of evolution on the test as a concept.

Several district administrators and science teachers said they likely won't change what they have been teaching or planned to teach.

"We'll probably teach it (evolution) as we always have, as a scientific theory," said Steve  Collier, superintendent at Norwood City Schools. "I don't think we'll change what we're doing -- teaching it as a theory of evolution -- I just hope we can continue to do what we've done in the past and that is to be very cautious about how we present the material -- to let students know that there are other theories, but we don't go into those other theories."

Cincinnati Public School employees said the district already has solid courses and lesson plans that address what the state expects students to know about science. The state adopted new science standards in 2002, which specified evolution as the only life concept that would be covered on the tests.

"After the new standards came out, teachers were charged with developing lesson examples that could be used to address those standards and indicators," said Kevin Stinson, district science curriculum manager. "Those lessons are research-based, tried and true, and fleshed out. The standards themselves haven't changed. In terms of what is taught and tested, that's evolution."

When the state standards were approved, the state school board included wording that required students to critically analyze British naturalist Charles Darwin's theory that life evolved by natural processes.

The new lesson plan will serve to help students analyze the theory of evolution, supporters say. Critics -- including the Ohio Academy of Science, the National Academy of Sciences and the faculty senate of Case Western Reserve University -- said the lesson plan includes elements of intelligent design, a theory that life is so complex that a higher being must have created it. The lesson plan refers students to printed materials and Web sites on the intelligent design concept.

Many science teachers, like Constance Brandon, are uncomfortable with the thought of leading discussions on theories they believe have no place in a science classroom.

"I've been teaching 32 years, and in all those years we have pretty much taken the stance that the kids have to understand there is more than one theory, but we are qualified, because of our training in the scientific method, to teach scientific theories," said Brandon, a biology teacher and department chairwoman at Norwood High School. "If they want to know about non-scientific theories, I advise them to go to their rabbi, their minister or their priest.

"I've never been trained in creationism and intelligent design. I always thought (those ideas) would be better taught in world religion class or social studies -- Science is experiment-and research-based. When trying to teach something faith-based, I'm out of my field. I can do it, but it doesn't make me comfortable."

Rebecca Heckman, a biology teacher and department chairwoman at Princeton High School in Sharonville, said she feared the inclusion of the controversial lesson plan would lead to broader instruction on alternative theories.

"As a biology teacher and as a scientist, I would not be incorporating intelligent design instruction into my classroom," she said. "We do critically analyze. We have laws and theories that are up for debate, using experimentation and testing with the scientific method. Intelligent design does not allow for that. It is a religious view. It's church doctrine, church dogma. It cannot be tested with experimentation or scientific inquiry standards."

Heckman allows her students an opportunity to offer their opinions on the theory of evolution. "I'll let them discuss it," she said. "If someone brings up other theories, students will ask how scientific is it. Often they'll be getting into an argument about: Is it testable and what is faith -- . We talk about the merits."

She believes the new evolution lesson is the result of politics more than good teaching.

"I graduated from Roger Bacon High School," she said. "I never had creationism crammed down my throat. I learned about natural selection at a Catholic school here in Cincinnati 20 years ago. -- I feel like we're going backward."

John Rowe, a science teacher at Clark Montessori School and member of Cincinnati Public's Science/Health Curriculum Council, said teachers already offer critical assessments of scientific theories, whether the topic is evolution or plate tectonics.

"That's true in any scientific theory," he said. "Science is about taking that current best information and trying to interpret it.

"We tend to get these lightning rods in the public eye, evolution being one, and we draw fire. We lose sight of the fact that this is just a minute piece of what we're teaching in science courses. What we should be focusing on is raising our children to be competent adults."


A nod to the right

Editorial
Toledo Blade
Monday, March 15, 2004
http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040315/OPINION02/403150306

The state Board of Education has caved in to the creationist lobby at the expense of Ohio public school students.

Many of the state's 613 public school districts are already at a competitive disadvantage with other states after years of being nobody's priority in Columbus. Now in a political nod to religious fundamentalists, the state's educational leaders have allowed faith-based creationism - bearing the name intelligent design - to dilute high school science study and put students even further behind the learning curve of their competitors.

For decades Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which holds that life evolved from a single-cell organism, has been taught in public schools. This scientific theory is not a qualified guess but a solid body of evidence supported by facts gathered over hundreds of years of observation and study. It is not a theory based on faith alone, like the concept of intelligent design, which holds that some intelligent force guided the conditions which created life.

Evolutionists don't argue that there's no such thing as intelligent direction, just that there's no basis in science for it. They prefer to rely on scientific accounts of life's origin in natural processes and its gradual change. Public schools in Ohio had rightly accepted and studied the Darwinian theory of natural selection until state educators decided to tinker with it under pressure from special interests.

They aim to introduce doubt about evolution where none should exist. Without directly pushing for inclusion of intelligent design - a euphemism for creationism - in science classes, the detractors adopted a more subtle approach with the state school board. They got the panel to add a new lesson plan to public school science curriculum that looks like an argument for intelligent design disguised as a critical analysis of evolution.

The problem with studying other theories about the origin of the universe is not the subject matter itself but where Ohio educators propose it be presented for academic pursuit. Philosophers and social scientists can debate various beliefs about the creation of life simply for the sake of educational exercise without ever coming to any conclusion. But science is different.

It attempts by way of scientific tests and painstaking research to objectively separate what is known from what is conjectured by those coming from more subjective disciplines like politics or religion. Science doesn't presume to have all the answers, but it does provide the best method devised so far to dispassionately dispatch with the theoretical.

How can students learn the difference between science and supposition when special interest groups can effectively pass their beliefs off as material worthy of equal footing with widely held science? The answer is they can't. The distinction becomes blurred and therein lies the disservice to Ohio's public school students.

Thanks to the Ohio board of education's academic accommodations undermining the theory of evolution, public school districts have been handed a science lesson rejected by the National Academy of Sciences, the Ohio Academy of Science, and other organizations as a misrepresentation of science.

That's a hard fact to digest for Ohio students already starting from behind. The only hope for them is a reversal of the board's regressive action through litigation, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.


Area educators prepare for 'intelligent design' lessons

By Jessica Burchard, jburchard@mariettatimes.com
Marietta [OH] Times
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
http://www.mariettatimes.com/news/story/0316202004_new03indesign.asp

Washington County schools are in the early stages of deciding how to add new science standards to the curriculum.

The Ohio School Board approved optional lesson plans March 9 for schools. The plans are meeting with criticism for including elements of "intelligent design," the theory that a non-specified higher power designed life because of its complexity.

Marietta City Schools curriculum coordinator, Jennifer Machir, said that the curriculum council, science teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade, were beginning to discuss the change.

"We're reviewing academic content standards and we're also in the process of aligning our program with the state's," Machir said

Machir said Marietta High School will get new science books, but the middle school and elementary schools may not.

Washington County Educational Services Center supervisor Laura Warren said Fort Frye Local Schools district began its textbook search last spring when the new standards were approved.

"We used the new standards to select textbooks. We created new courses, including human anatomy (senior level)," Warren said.

Warren added that the students and parents were pleased with the new lessons.

"Our students and parents are delighted with the program. It's informative and colorful," Warren said.

Warren High School science department chair, Nancy Ruth, said the new lesson plans offered teachers more options.

"It is an optional lesson plan. It does give our teachers more freedom to introduce the idea (of intelligent design)," Ruth said.

Ruth added that Warren will not get new books until 2006. The school does its textbook and curriculum review at the same time.

But not everyone is pleased with the new option because intelligent design remains a controversial topic.

Dave McShaffrey, an associate professor of biology at Marietta College, said that as a scientist he was worried about the new lessons.

"Look at how organisms are designed, it's anything but intelligent. It goes against what scientists who study organisms actually think," McShaffrey said.

Rebecca Sammons, mother of three Fort Frye students, said that the new lessons give more facts, and she agrees with including intelligent design.

"I don't believe in evolution. It sounds better to me. It has more facts," Sammons said.

Sammons said that she just wants her children to pass the school exams, but to stay rooted in their religious beliefs.

Ruth said that the lesson plans won't change how Warren teaches science.

"We believe that each student has the right to their own personal beliefs, we encourage them to investigate their beliefs, but don't want to force the students to change their opinions," Warren said.

Marietta Schools will have more discussions when it's taken to the curriculum council on May 10, Machir said.

The new science standards will be put on the Ohio Graduation Test for the next academic year.

The Associated Press contributed.


Optional evolution lessons give birth to controversy

The state board of education spent two years working on the plan.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH
The Vindicator [Youngstown, OH]
March 16, 2004
http://www.vindy.com/local_news/316512191942111.php

WARREN -- New optional state lesson plan guidelines for teaching evolution -- which some critics say put God into the classroom -- already have one scientist talking about leaving Ohio.

Dr. Gary Walker, an associate professor of cell/molecular biology at Youngstown State University, said he is so concerned about this new lesson plan that he is considering moving to western Pennsylvania so that his children, who will soon be in high school, will not have to take part in the critical analysis of evolution.

The state board of education voted 13-5 last week to approve the optional lesson plans. The plans can be used for districts as they teach new science standards.

Several critics say the lesson plan, called Critical Analysis of Evolution, which would be taught to high school sophomores, includes elements of intelligent design. Intelligent design is the theory that a nonspecified higher power designed life because of its complexity.

Those who support the lessons say the plan offers scientifically valid ways to examine evolution.

"I feel very strongly opposed to this," Walker said. "I think this plan has a negative impact on all of us who try to work hard to make Ohio less remedial."

Making it tougher?

He added that the new lesson plan may make it harder for community leaders to attract high-tech businesses to the state. He noted that biotechnology companies depend on a highly educated work force.

"Remedial content in our schools can only act as a major disincentive for high tech firms thinking of locating to Ohio," Walker said.

Deborah Owens Fink of Akron, a state school board member, whose district includes Trumbull County, voted in favor of the new plan and said she believes students should know how scientists today critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.

"This is not something we came up with quickly," Fink said. "We spent two years on this plan. There has been a lot of interest on this subject and the board listened to over 30,000 comments on this one issue."

She also said she does not think the plan contains the intelligent design elements raised by critics.

Part of the plan asks students to describe why scientific critical analysis of evolution is important, to describe three major pieces of evidence used to support evolution, and explain why these pieces are important. Also, they are to describe three major pieces of evidence used to challenge evolution and explain why these pieces are important.

Against the plan

The National Academy of Sciences and other scientific organizations have opposed the plan. Fink, however, noted that many scientists are in favor of the plan.

Marilyn Parks of the Columbiana County Educational Service Center said she has not seen the actual lesson plans but believes the plan is an exercise in analytical thinking.

"If education is about creating well-informed problem-solving citizens, then don't we want them to look at all the research and give them the tools to make a well-informed decision of their own?" asked Parks. "I have a concern in education when we limit what children are allowed to learn."

Bill Mullane, principal of Warren G. Harding High School, said he knows the approval by the state board of the new evolution lesson plan is highly political -- but it's on the bottom of his critical issues.

"There are a lot more issues important to me, like making sure students graduate," Mullane said. "I encourage diverse, multiple points of view. I think we should put out as many options as possible and let the students come to their own conclusions."

sinkovich@vindy.com


Ohio educators to be applauded

AiG on the Ohio decision to encourage evolution to be critically analyzed

by Mark Looy, AiG-US Vice President&endash;Ministry Relations and Spokesman
Answers in Genesis
18 March 2004
http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2004/0318ohio_decision.asp

Several skirmishes1 are being fought across the United States over the teaching of origins in public school science classes. Because of the international nature of AiG's website (i.e. would someone in Australia, for example, know--much less care--about each of these American battles?), as well as our observation that the issues involved are usually the same across the board (i.e. why be repetitive and cover each similar controversy?), we only occasionally report on these school skirmishes. What happened in Ohio's schools last week regarding the teaching of evolution, however, was such welcome news that it merits some comment from AiG.

In a lesson plan approved for use in Ohio's tenth-grade biology classes, the state school board has decided that science teachers have the green light to critically analyze evolution. There is no mandating that Intelligent Design (ID) or biblical creation be taught,2 which is expressly prohibited anyway by the 'Academic Content Standards' approved by Ohio's state board of education in 2002.3 Nevertheless, some reporters in the secular media managed to report that ID was now in Ohio's science classrooms, including Cincinnati, Ohio's Channel 12 television, which should have known better after interviewing this AiG spokesman at length.

As we have often stated on this website, AiG is naturally in favor of the critical examination of evolution, but we have been opposed to the compulsion of any alternate view (i.e. ID or biblical creation). This concern of AiG's derives from a belief that evolution-biased instructors who are forced to teach ID or biblical creation will teach it in a counterproductive--and perhaps mocking--manner.

As a result of Ohio's new biology lesson plan that encourages (but does not even mandate, by the way) that teachers present evolution critically, we hope that many more instructors will take the opportunity to expose students to the assumptions and limitations of historical science in general. In that way, students may more likely realize that it's not a matter of 'science vs religion' in the origins question. Because evolution is a belief system about the past as much as ID and biblical creation, the whole attempt to 'keep religion out of it' is artificial anyway.

AiG encourages Christians to be well-armed with an understanding of the main 'big picture' issues, and not just be equipped with a few favorite anti-evolution arguments (see Culture wars: Bacon vs Ham, Culture wars: Ham vs Bacon, Searching for the 'magic bullet' and Creation: 'where's the proof?'). Of course, in the current anti-Christian climate where American courts are not sympathetic to any hint of Christianity being brought into a science classroom, some of these larger philosophical issues will no doubt be aggressively challenged by so-called 'civil liberties' groups like the ironically named American Civil Liberties Union. But AiG does want to alert Christians in America of possible opportunities to let their local and state school boards know that fairness should be sought in exploring such a controversial topic as evolution, and that in the spirit of also helping to build the critical thinking skills of young people, students should hear the arguments for and against evolution.

The attacks on the Ohio school board as being 'anti-science,' of course, show that evolutionists don't want scientific scrutiny of their theories. Further, the false claims that ID is now mandated in public schools also undermine their credibility.

For the sake of academic freedom, all young people should be aware of the grave problems with evolution theory. They should also be able to critically examine the assumptions in areas outside biological evolution (such as the age of things, the limitations of dating methods, the validity of the big bang theory, etc.)

To read AiG's views on evolution in public schools and our cautions about attempts by those who want to mandate that ID be taught in schools, read AiG's views on the Intelligent Design Movement.

Notes

1. Recently in such states as Georgia, Texas, Montana (in the town of Darby), etc. Return to text.

2. There are significant differences between the two. While biblical creationists would certainly accept that there is design in nature, most ID leaders would not accept the plain teaching of Genesis about the age of the earth, the origin of the universe, the worldwide Flood of Noah, etc., and some are self-admitted non-Christians (they are deists, 'Moonies' and so on ). Return to text.

3. On p. 37 of Ohio's 'Academic Content Standards,' it unambiguously states that 'The intent of this benchmark [i.e. critically analyzing aspects of evolutionary theory] does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.' Return to text.


Evolution lesson renews intelligent design dispute

By: MARILYN H. KARFELD Staff Reporter
Cleveland Jewish News
March 18, 2004
http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/articles/2004/03/18/news/local/evolution0319.txt

Ohio's controversial new 10th-grade biology model lesson plan, approved last week by the state school board, has attracted national attention.

The scientific community, from the prestigious National Academy of Science to the science faculty of Case Western Reserve University, has criticized the lesson for allowing intelligent design, a pseudo-scientific version of creationism, to creep into high-school biology classrooms.

Last week, the Ohio Board of Education approved the 547 pages of science lesson plans, including the controversial 22-page lesson, "Critical Analysis of Evolution."

Scientists oppose the biology lesson because it uses intelligent design concepts to suggest that evolution is a supposition. They note that evolution is a firmly accepted scientific theory that has withstood repeated tests over time. While there are numerous scientific theories in the state lesson plans, only the one on evolution asks students for critical analysis.

"It's quite clear when you look at the history of this fiasco that it's driven entirely by religious motivation," says Patricia Princehouse, an evolutionary biologist at Case Western Reserve University. "The science lesson tells lies about science, errors that come straight out of Christian fundamentalist, creationist literature."

The Jewish community has been largely silent on the model lesson plan, despite what critics say are the conservative Christian beliefs underlying it. Not one Jewish person has mentioned the science lesson to her, says Joyce Garver Keller, the Jewish community's lobbyist in Columbus.

While the American Jewish Committee has a long standing opposition to creationism in the science classroom, John Hexter, the organization's area director, suggests the community is preoccupied today with Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" or the violence in Israel.

The new science lesson "nips around the edges" of creationism and belongs in a class on comparative religion, not biology, says Hexter. "When you lose those boundaries, you erode that division between church and state that has stood us so well."

The "wedge theory" is at work here, says Bettysue Feuer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. If you teach that there is a controversy over evolution, intelligent design advocates get their foot in the door. "This goes beyond pseudo-science. It's religion."

The model lesson plan, says Princehouse, uses concepts based on Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells, and Darwin's Black Box, by Michael Behe, both intelligent design proponents.

Intelligent design supporters say that the origins of life are too complex to be explained by evolution; therefore, a higher being or intelligent designer must play a role. The Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, a Seattle-based think tank that challenges evolution, praised Ohio's 10th-grade biology lesson plan.

Florida State University constitutional law Professor Steven Gey, who testified against the lesson before the state school board and spoke on the issue recently at Case, describes the plan as "not only bad science, it is illegal." The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1968 and 1987 that it is unconstitutional to require educators who teach evolution to also teach creationism.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio "is preparing this matter for litigation," says litigation coordinator Gary Daniels. He says the board of trustees, meeting at the end of the month, will decide whether or not to bring a lawsuit.

While evolution can be legitimately debated and addressed in science class, he adds, "the way this model lesson plan is presented is a way for people to inject their religious beliefs into science class."

The state Board of Education insists the lesson is not about intelligent design. But, Daniels says, "even if you don't see the words intelligent design, the fingerprints are all through the lesson plan."

The Ohio controversy began in 2002, when Ohio Board of Education members supporting intelligent design attempted to add its precepts to the curriculum standards for science. The state proficiency exams, which students must pass to graduate from high school, are based on these science standards.

Ultimately, the board came up with a compromise. They included a benchmark that scientists continue to critically analyze evolutionary theory. A disclaimer says the standard does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.

However, Princehouse says the 10th-grade lesson plan was written by a high-school teacher who testified in favor of intelligent design in the 2002 education standards debate.

Proponents of the lesson plan say it rightfully exposes students to views opposing Darwinian evolution, which they claim many scientists have challenged. Polls show that nearly half of all Americans believe in the literal truth of the book of Genesis: that 6,000 years ago, God created the world in six days. Only 10% accept evolution as the sole force behind the world's existence, according to a survey in the Los Angeles Times.

Ohio is the first state in the country to pass a model lesson plan challenging evolutionary theory, says Rich Benz, an award-winning biology teacher at Wickliffe High School.

Asking students to debate or argue about "one of the main tenets of biology" is not good teaching because 10th-graders are just learning what the concepts are. They don't have the background to debate evolution.

"I was appalled" at the lesson, says Benz, a 31-year teaching veteran who is on the state advisory board for the development of the science curriculum. "I knew the writers, I knew they had a personal agenda as supporters of intelligent design."

The state Board of Education field-tested its high school graduation exam this week. On Thursday, after the CJN went to press, Wickliffe students were to take the science portion of the exam.

While Benz says the model lesson will not change how he teaches evolution, he's concerned about other teachers, especially young ones, who do not have his background. "If there's a lesson that's not good education and not good science, it shouldn't be part of a good curriculum."


Ohio Lesson Plan Pleases Parents, Irks Liberals

by Phyllis Schlafly
Human Events Online
March 18, 2004
http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=3305

"Why is it important for scientists to critically analyze evolution?" That's the first question in the "student reflection" portion of an optional new 22-page section called "Critical Analysis of Evolution," which is part of Ohio's 547-page science curriculum.

How could anybody object to such an innocuous question? Newspapers report a steady stream of news that scientists are questioning such dogmas as good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol, vaccine links to autism, the causes of breast cancer, even fluoridation for children's teeth. Isn't the nature of science to question assertions and seek the proof from evidence?

The Ohio State Board of Education approved the new curriculum by a vote of 13-5 after being persuaded by 22 Ohio scientists that the new lesson plan promotes academic freedom and that it is good for 10th grade students to have an inquiring mind about evolution. "Are we about teaching students how to think, or what to think?" asked one parent supporter of the lesson plan.

And it's all optional; no teacher will be required to teach criticisms of evolution, and no students will be tested on the criticisms. So what's the big deal?

To some people, it's a very big deal, and the ACLU is ominously threatening a lawsuit. The opposition to the new lesson was led by Case Western Reserve University lecturer Patricia Princehouse (whose academic position is philosophy not science) who said, "It's sad day for science in Ohio."

Another non-scientist, Florida State University law professor Steven Gey, flew in to warn Ohioans that the lesson is unconstitutional and would almost certainly be struck down if it reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe he is seeking an activist judge to rule that the Constitution prohibits allowing students to question anything in science class.

Gey's notions of constitutionality are unusual. He thinks that "moral relativism" is a "constitutional command," that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, and that nude sunbathing should be given "constitutional protection."

There is nothing religious, or about creationism, or even about intelligent design in the new Ohio standards. What is controversial is giving students the opportunity to question evolution; it's the inquiry and debate aspect that some people find so threatening.

The new lesson encourages students to consider both supporting and "challenging" evidence for evolution. The challenges to the theory are understated and are backed up with facts.

For example, the lesson says that the fossil record supports evolution with its increasing complexity of living forms. But the lesson also observes that "transitional fossils are rare in the fossil record" and "a growing number of scientists now question that ... transitional fossils really are transitional forms," and notes that some changes in species occur quickly in the fossil record relative to longer stretches that manifest no change.

The new lesson plan presents the overused English peppered moth story found in most textbooks, which teaches that black moths survived because they rested on trees blackened by soot, while white moths were eaten by the birds. The lesson points out that "peppered moths do not actually rest on tree trunks," and that "no new species emerged" as evolutionists have long implied was the result of the soot.

The new lesson plan invites students to take a fresh look at evolutionary claims of common ancestry. The lesson observes that different genes and development have created similar anatomical structures, suggesting different ancestries.

Can it be that this kind of balanced information is so dangerous for high school students to hear that it must be censored out of textbooks? Or that it rises to the level of a Supreme Court case where judges might declare it unconstitutional?

The diehard evolutionists have enjoyed censorship of any criticism of their beliefs for a hundred years, and they won't willingly give up their academic turf. Their censorship demands became so irrational that the Ohio Board's vice president, Richard Baker, called them "a bunch of paranoid, egotistical scientists afraid of people finding out [they] don't know anything."

Ohio has become the cutting edge in the long-running evolution debate. Georgia, New Mexico, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Kansas have all wrestled with science standards and curricula on evolution in recent years.

The Alabama Senate Education Committee last week approved the "Academic Freedom Act," which says that no teacher or professor in public schools or universities may be fired, denied tenure or otherwise discriminated against for presenting "alternative theories" to evolution. The bill would also prohibit any student from being penalized because he held "a particular position on biological or physical origins" so long as the student demonstrated "acceptable understanding of course materials" which include evolution.

Mrs. Schlafly is the author of Feminist Fantasies (Spence Publishing Co).

Ohio lesson plan pleases conservatives, irks apostles of Darwin

Phyllis Schlafly (archive)
Townhall.com
March 22, 2004
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/phyllisschlafly/ps20040322.shtml
[Text is nearly identical with that published on March 18 on Human Events Online, except the curiously changed title.]

"Why is it important for scientists to critically analyze evolution?"

That's the first question in the "student reflection" portion of a controversial 22-page section called "Critical Analysis of Evolution," which is now part of Ohio's 547-page public school science curriculum.

How could anybody object to such an innocuous question? Newspapers report a steady stream of news that scientists are questioning such dogmas as good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol, vaccine links to autism, the causes of breast cancer, even fluoridation for children's teeth. Isn't the nature of science to question assertions and seek the proof from evidence?

On Feb. 10, the Ohio State Board of Education approved the new curriculum by a vote of 13-5 after being persuaded by 22 Ohio scientists that the lesson plan promotes academic freedom and that it is good for students in 10th grade to have an inquiring mind about evolution.

"Are we about teaching students how to think, or what to think?" asked one parent supporter of the lesson plan.

And it's optional; no teacher will be required to teach criticisms of evolution, and no students will be tested on the criticisms. So what's the big deal?

To some people, it's a very big deal. The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening a lawsuit.

Case Western Reserve University lecturer Patricia Princehouse - whose academic position is philosophy, not science - led the opposition to the new lesson. "It's sad day for science in Ohio," she said.

Another nonscientist, Florida State University law professor Steven Gey, flew in to warn Ohio residents that the lesson is unconstitutional and would almost certainly be struck down if it reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe he is seeking an activist judge to rule that the Constitution prohibits allowing students to question anything in science class.

Gey's notions of constitutionality are unusual. He thinks that "moral relativism" is a "constitutional command," that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, and that nude sunbathing should be given "constitutional protection."

There is nothing religious about creationism, or even about intelligent design, in the new Ohio standards. What is controversial is giving students the opportunity to question evolution; it's the inquiry-and-debate aspect that some people find so threatening.

The new lesson encourages students to consider both supporting and "challenging" evidence for evolution. The challenges to the theory are understated and are backed up with facts.

For example, the lesson says that the fossil record supports evolution with its increasing complexity of living forms. But the lesson also observes that "transitional fossils are rare in the fossil record" and "a growing number of scientists now question that ... transitional fossils really are transitional forms." The lesson notes that some changes in species occur quickly in the fossil record relative to longer stretches that manifest no change.

The new lesson plan presents the overused English peppered moth story found in most textbooks, which teaches that black moths survived because they rested on trees blackened by soot, while white moths were eaten by the birds. The lesson points out that "peppered moths do not actually rest on tree trunks," and that "no new species emerged" as evolutionists have long implied was the result of the soot.

The new lesson plan invites students to take a fresh look at evolutionary claims of common ancestry. The lesson observes that different genes and development have created similar anatomical structures, suggesting different ancestries.

Can it be that this kind of balanced information is so dangerous for high school students to hear that it must be censored from textbooks? Or that it rises to the level of a Supreme Court case where judges might declare it unconstitutional?

Diehard evolutionists have enjoyed censorship of any criticism of their beliefs for 100 years, and they won't willingly give up their academic turf. Their censorship demands became so irrational that Rich Baker, the Ohio board's vice president, called them "a bunch of paranoid, egotistical scientists afraid of people finding out (they) don't know anything."

Ohio has become the cutting edge in the long-running evolution debate. Georgia, New Mexico, Minnesota, West Virginia and Kansas have all wrestled with science standards and curricula on evolution in recent years.

The Alabama Senate Education Committee last week approved the "Academic Freedom Act," which says that no teacher or professor in public schools or universities may be fired, denied tenure or otherwise discriminated against for presenting "alternative theories" to evolution. The bill would also prohibit any student from being penalized because he held "a particular position on biological or physical origins" so long as the student demonstrated "acceptable understanding of course materials," which include evolution.


If you want 'honest science,' Intelligent Design is not it

By BRIAN MCENNIS
The Marion [OH] Star
April 12, 2004
http://www.marionstar.com/news/stories/20040412/opinion/220445.html

On March 11, The Star published a column by Lowell Hedges under the headline "Let's teach honest science." I agree with the headline, but not with Mr. Hedges' interpretation of honest science. He advocates the inclusion of non-scientific material in a science curriculum, teaching students to abandon scientific method by explaining natural phenomena with supernatural forces. The lesson is dishonest in that it masquerades as science while including misrepresentations and factual errors. It has been rejected by (amongst others) The Ohio Academy of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, and major research universities in the state.

It is disturbing that the Ohio Board of Education would ignore overwhelming scientific opinion in developing a science lesson plan, harming the students whom they should be serving. Students hoping to gain admission to elite universities, or hoping to avoid remedial biology courses in college, should ask why the Board of Education is acting against their best interests. And science-based companies, which rely on well-educated employees, will think twice before locating in a state whose Board of Education is in open conflict with the scientific community.

What is it about the disputed lesson plan that has scientists concerned? Despite Mr. Hedges' claims, there is nothing that we're hiding. We just have this conviction that science courses should teach science! If competing theories are to be taught in a science classroom, they should at least be valid scientific theories. We are implored to "teach both sides of the issue," as if valid science and fraudulent science had equal merit. If that were the case, there are many sides, not two. We would need to teach creation myths of various cultures, flat-earth theories, and any other crackpot theories that claimed classroom time. This might make for a fun course, but it wouldn't be science!

Intelligent Design satisfies none of the criteria for a scientific theory. Science is evidence-based, and any theory that would compete with modern evolutionary theory must account for the overwhelming evidence, such as the evidence of the fossil record and the evidence of molecular biology. Intelligent Design simply ignores the evidence.

The scientific method explicitly rejects superstition, mysticism, or other supernatural explanations of natural phenomena. Without that discipline, we would never have emerged from the Dark Ages, and would (for example) still be explaining illness as possession by evil spirits. Intelligent Design is the antithesis of scientific method, asserting that some natural phenomena require supernatural explanations. Welcome back to the Dark Ages, Ohio!

Scientific theories are continually tested by making predictions based on theory and searching for evidence to either confirm or refute the predictions. Intelligent Design, by its very nature, cannot be tested - it is an article of faith. Mr. Hedges claims that scientists are afraid to have critical analysis of their theories. Baloney! Science is critical analysis, and evolutionary theory has survived almost 150 years of it to become the cornerstone of modern biology.

It is Intelligent Design that is afraid of criticism. Where is the critical analysis of Intelligent Design in the lesson plan? There is none. Under critical analysis, Intelligent Design collapses like a house of cards. Mr. Hedges asks "...why don't they want the theories of evolution criticized in a public school classroom?" He misrepresents the positions of responsible scientists and educators, who have always advocated critical analysis of all scientific theories. It is not critical analysis we object to; it is the insertion of pseudoscience into the curriculum.

Mr. Hedges describes scientists as "believing" in evolution, in order to create the impression that science is based on faith. He has it backwards. Intelligent Design, by invoking a supernatural being, is faith-based; science is not. Scientific theories are based solidly on physical evidence. Intelligent Design explicitly brings religious beliefs into the science classroom, and it will cost Ohio taxpayers millions of dollars to defend against the inevitable court challenges.

Mr. Hedges refers to the support of Sen. Edward Kennedy, echoing a claim made by Sen. Santorum in the Washington Times of March 14, 2002. Kennedy responded in a letter to the editor, published in the same newspaper on March 21, 2002:

"The March 14 Commentary piece, 'Illiberal education in Ohio schools,' written by my colleague Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, erroneously suggested that I support the teaching of 'Intelligent Design' as an alternative to biological evolution. That simply is not true. Rather, I believe that public school science classes should focus on teaching students how to understand and critically analyze genuine scientific theories. Unlike biological evolution, 'Intelligent Design' is not a genuine scientific theory and, therefore, has no place in the curriculum of our nation's public school science classes."

So much for the claim of Kennedy's support! This type of misrepresentation and shading of the truth is typical of the way that Intelligent Design proponents present their case. The lesson plan that they wrote is similarly riddled with deceit and error.

If it is honest science you want, this lesson plan is not it. It is scientific fraud, and has no place in the classroom.

Dr. Brian McEnnis is a professor of mathematics at The Ohio State University at Marion. He is involved in middle school and high school science education as the director of the science fair programs at OSUM and as a representative of this district on the Junior Academy Council of The Ohio Academy of Science.


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Last updated: 2004/05/08