Web Extra Thursday, December 19

Ohio votes no to Intelligent Design

Last week, the Ohio State Education Board unanimously voted to approve new state science standards that, for the first time in the state's history, include evolution. Intelligent Design creationism, which stresses the role of a creator in establishing order in the natural world, will not be a part of the standards. "The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of Intelligent Design," read the final version of the Ohio standards.

The Dec. 10 vote ended a raging debate since January of this year on whether or not to include Intelligent Design creationism in the high school life and earth science curriculum. The Ohio Citizens for Science formed to fight changes proposed by the Science Excellence of All Ohioans group, which advocated teaching what they called alternative theories on the origins of life, including Intelligent Design.

In response to the state board's vote, the Science Excellence of All Ohioans group says: "While commending the State Board for substantially implementing the teach-the-controversy proposal, we also note that the language in the evolutionary theory sections is still problematic in numerous places … The language calling for inclusion of evidence both for and against evolution could certainly be more specific. Also, we would prefer that more explicit protection be given to educators who choose to discuss alternatives to the theory of common descent."

While item number 23 in the standards does encourage teachers to discuss interpretations of the patterns and processes behind evolution, it does not contest whether evolution took place. In an open letter to the Ohio Citizens for Science, Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education writes, "The Ohio standards give your teachers a great shield to stand behind when parents harass them about teaching evolution … and also a nice little cattle prod for those teachers who are reluctant to teach the e-word."

For more on the Ohio evolution vote, visit AGI Government Affair's Web site.

Lisa M. Pinsker

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