PRESS RELEASE FROM THE DISCOVERY INSTITUTE - March 19, 2002
New Federal Law Applies to Ohio's Evolution Debate, Congressional Leaders Say.
To: Ohio Circuit: Education, Science, and Statehouse Reporters
Contact: Mark Edwards / 206.292.0401 x107 / email@example.com
Two Ohio Congressmen who helped craft the new federal education act ("No Child Left Behind Act of 2001") have written to the Ohio Board of Education to contradict claims made by defenders of a Darwin-only approach to high school biology teaching.
In the letter (click here to open a pdf copy of letter in a new window), sent Friday, March 15, Rep. John Boehner, Chairman of the ouse Education and Workforce Committee, and Rep. Steven Chabot, hairman of the House Constitution Committee, state that the "Santorum language" in the report of the act "is part of the law." The new act, they say, calls for science standards in each state, and its report language "clarifies that public school students are entitled to learn that there are differing scientific views on issues such a biological evolution."
Ohio is the first state to consider new science standards since the enactment of the new federal education act. The Santorum language in the act says that in science teaching on controversial subject such as biological evolution, "the curriculum should help students to understand
the full range of scientific views that exist."
The question of the applicability of the Santorum language came up at a presentation to the state board by intelligent design theorists, biologist Jonathan Wells and philosopher of science Steven Meyer. Both are affiliated with Discovery Institute in Seattle. They urged that state science standards assure that students are aware of increasing scientific arguments against, as well as for, Darwin's theory of evolution.
Darwinian biologist Ken Miller and physicist Laurence Krauss argued, in reply, that the "Santorum language" is not part of the new education act. In front of an audience of over 1000, Miller ran a simulated "word search" on an overhead projector to support his claim that the language is not in the act. Krauss compared the language to a private "comment" appended to the act.
In fact, the letter from Congressmen Boehner and Chabot, states, "It's important that the implementation of the science standards not be used to censor debate on controversial issues in science, including Darwin's theory of evolution."
Meyer and Wells have stated that they do not advocate teaching the creationist account of the Bible in science classroom. "We don't support having either religious or anti-religious teaching in science classes," Meyer stated.
"Science is neither religion nor philosophy," Representatives Boehner and Chabot wrote education board president Jennifer L. Sheets and vice president Cyrus B. Richardson, Jr. "Many people may draw religious or philosophical implications from science, but those implications are best drawn outside the science classroom. Students should be allowed to hear the scientific arguments on more than one side of a controversial topic. Censorship of opposing points of view retards true scholarship and presents students from developing their critical thinking skills."
Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania initially introduced the act's actual language on academic freedom. It passed 91-8 as a resolution of the Senate. Later the Conference Committee of the House and Senate that presented the final bill for passage embraced it. Boehner, of Cincinnati, co-chaired the Conference Committee with Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.
"The Santorum language in the federal act is actually stronger than our compromise proposal," Discovery Institute president Bruce Chapman stated. "We are especially happy to have this correction made to the widely reported and mis-leading remarks of professors Krauss and Miller."
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