ADOPTION OF 2002 SCIENCE STANDARDS
The following statements were released after adoption of the Ohio Science Standards on Dec. 10, 2002.
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SCIENCE EXCELLENCE FOR ALL OHIOANS
Standards substantially incorporate the teach-the-controversy approach
December 10, 2002
Ohio's State Board of Education, by a vote of 18-0, adopted on Dec. 10 the state's new science standards. The standards include two key changes which substantially implement the teach-the-controversy approach. These changes were made at the Oct. 15 and Dec. 10 State Board meetings.
First, a new "definition" of science was added: "Recognize that science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, and theory building, which leads to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." This replaces the following statement in Scientific Ways of Knowing, Grade 10, Indicator 3: "Recognize that scientific knowledge is limited to natural explanations for natural phenomena based on evidence from our senses or technological extensions."
Second, a new statement was added as Life Sciences, Grade 10, Indicator 23: "Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. (The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.)" This same statement was also added to Benchmark H in Life Sciences, Grade 10, with the substitution of the word "benchmark" for "indicator."
Our organization, Science Excellence for All Ohioans, is pleased that with these modest but significant changes, the adopted version of the Ohio Science Standards substantially incorporates the teach-the-controversy approach to instruction in biological origins.
The new 'definition of science' is quite appropriate in that it allows for consideration of all logical explanations for phenomena in nature. The new definition is appropriate for empirical (experimental) sciences (like chemistry and physics) as well as for historical sciences (like biological origins).
The new benchmark/indicator dealing with the investigation and critical analysis of aspects of evolutionary theory is also consistent with the teach-the-controversy approach. Among the aspects to be considered would be evidence for and against biological evolution (the theory of common descent). The 'scientists' referred to in this benchmark/indicator would include mainstream evolutionists as well as dissenters. The new language is also consistent with the teach-the-controversy principle that discussion of alternative theories (such as intelligent design) should be permitted, but not mandated, in biological origins instruction.
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. Aspects of evolutionary theory that are in fact controversial are presented as factual, or as the only viable explanation, in a number of benchmarks and indicators. 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.
Overall, we commend the State Board for adopting these standards. The new standards recognize, in part, the results of public input which show that a large majority of Ohioans favors the teach-the-controversy approach. The standards also acknowledge a growing number of credentialed scientists, including over fifty from Ohio, who endorse a teach-the-controversy approach to biological evolution. We feel that the changes that have been made will align the new standards with the Santorum language in the federal education bill, the 'No Child Left Behind Act' of 2001. In addition, these changes will contribute substantially to better objectivity in biological origins instruction.
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Ohio praised for historic decision requiring students to critically analyze evolutionary theory
December 10, 2002
After months of debate, the Ohio State Board of Education has adopted science standards that require Ohio students to know why "scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The Board unanimously approved the science standards this morning.
Calling this provision in Ohio's science standards "historic," Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, noted that "Ohio has become the first state to require students to learn about scientific criticisms of Darwinian evolution as well as scientific evidence supporting the theory. This represents an important milestone in the effort to ensure that students learn the full range of relevant scientific evidence. This policy will help remedy the selective presentation of evidence made by most biology textbooks today."
Ohio's new evolution standard does not require teaching the theory of intelligent design. "In recent weeks some have mischaracterized the new language as an effort to mandate teaching the theory of intelligent design in the classroom, but that is not accurate and is not what we asked for," said Dr. Meyer. "The new standard requires students to learn about the evidence for and against Darwin's theory. It does not mandate that students be tested about the theory of intelligent design, though it does leave teachers free to discuss it."
Dr. Meyer, a Cambridge-trained philosopher of science, and his colleague, Dr. Jonathan Wells, a Berkeley-trained biologist (both of Discovery Institute), were invited by the Board of Education to testify in March at a public hearing about the scientific controversy over Darwinian evolution. At the March hearing, Meyer, an advocate of the theory of intelligent design, proposed a compromise. Meyer suggested that the Board not require students to know the evidence and arguments for the modern theory of intelligent design, but that they should require students to know the scientific arguments for and against neo-Darwinism. The Ohio State Board's decision today essentially affirms this approach by allowing students to learn evidence based scientific critiques of contemporary evolutionary theory. (Meyer's original proposal to the Board can be found in his March 30, 2002 op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer, "Teach the Controversy.")
Dr. Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution, a book that documents scientific errors in textbook presentations of the case for modern Darwinism, urged the Ohio State Board of Education to adopt curricular materials that more accurately represent the current state of scientific knowledge and to remedy the one-sided presentation of evidence in favor of contemporary Darwinian evolution. "Most biology textbooks continue to use outdated and discredited evidences like peppered moths and Haeckel's embryos when it comes to their treatment of Darwinian theory. It is critically important for school districts in Ohio to revise their biology curricula in order to meet the new standards."
The Ohio State Department of Education already has pledged to carry out the intent of the new evolution standard. Susan Zelman, Ohio's State Superintendent of Public Instruction, testified before the state legislature on Nov. 13 that she would "make a commitment that in our curriculum model we will deal with this controversial issue [of evolution] in an intellectually honest way, to protect the spirit of [indicator] #23 'to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory,' and try to give examples about how to do that."
Discovery Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan policy and research organization that studies issues from transportation to technology to tax policy. In science education, it supports a "teach the controversy" approach to Darwinian evolution. Its Center for Science and Culture has more than 40 affiliated biologists, biochemists, physicists, philosophers and historians of science, and public policy and legal experts, most of whom also have positions with colleges and universities.
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INTELLIGENT DESIGN NETWORK
Ohio State Board adopts Science Standards that permit the discussion of intelligent design
December 11, 2002
Shawnee Mission, KS. - IDnet congratulates the Ohio State Board of Education on its handling of a major scientific controversy about teaching biological origins in public schools.
The issue has been watched by the world because of the profound implications for science, philosophy, and religion, which are inherent in the study of biological evolution and the origin of life.
The key controversy was whether state standards should, on the one hand, promote an "Evolution Only" concept that would restrict criticisms of evolution and censor the discussion of competing scientific theories of origins. Or, whether the standards should take a more objective approach that would permit schools to teach, rather than to suppress, the controversy.
On December 11, 2002, the Board voted 18 - 0 for objectivity and academic freedom and against censorship of competing scientific views. This action followed over a year of deliberations and important fact finding.
The key action taken by the Board involved the replacement of a naturalistic definition of science with a logical definition that is consistent with the scientific method.
The definition adopted was: "Recognize that science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, and theory building, which leads to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."
The naturalistic definition that IDnet had opposed, that was offered by the Ohio Science Writing Team and that was rejected by the Board was: "Recognize that scientific knowledge is limited to natural explanations for natural phenomena based on evidence from our senses or technological extensions."
The second positive action taken was the Board's adoption of a new Life Sciences indicator and benchmark that states: "Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." This necessarily challenges students and teachers to confront and openly discuss the scientific controversies that surround biological evolution. This is designed to open rather than to shut minds about an issue that is important to science, religion and culture.
The Board also added the following clarifying statement to the benchmark and indicator: "The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of Intelligent Design." This has major significance since the implication of the statement is that the "teaching or testing of intelligent design," is permitted.
While commending the State Board for substantially implementing an objective, teach-the-scientific-controversy proposal, we also note that the language in the evolutionary theory sections is still problematic in numerous places. In many cases aspects of evolutionary theory that are in fact controversial are presented as factual or as the only viable explanation. Also, we believe it is critical that standards and curricula explicitly require an appropriate disclosure of material assumptions and a discussion of the subjectivity that is inherent in origins science due to its historical character.
John Calvert, Jody Sjogren, Managing Directors
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FOCUS ON THE FAMILY - Citizen Link
Ohio paves way in evolution debate
December 13, 2002
The recent unanimous decision by the Ohio State Board of Education to require critical analysis of Darwin's theory of evolution makes it clear Ohio is leading the way in changing evolution from being taught as "fact" to being examined as "theory."
The board voted on Dec. 10 to adopt new science standards requiring that students be tested on their knowledge of "how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."
Deborah Owens Fink, a member of the Board of Education, is encouraged by the decision.
"Ohio is the first state that will require students to critically examine Darwin's theory of evolution," Fink said. "To me, this is really a monumental step in the right direction."
Some evolution proponents are claiming victory because at the last moment, the board added a disclaimer that the decision does not mandate teaching intelligent design - the theory that blind natural processes cannot produce the complexity we see in living organisms. Yet, Fink maintains it was not a defeat for those who want to question evolution.
"Primarily, those that were on the other side twisted it to say we were mandating intelligent design," Fink said. "That was never our intent."
The real issue, she said, was whether Ohio science classes would now be allowed to question Darwin's theory.
Dr. Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute, a prime advocate of the intelligent design movement, also praised the board's decision.
"This is a terrific victory for academic freedom and defeat for those who would use the science classroom for a means of indoctrination of students into Darwinian evolution and the worldview that often flows from it," Meyer said.
He added the Darwinists have, until now, been able to claim that no argument against evolution even exists.
"The fact that there is a debate within the scientific community about the legitimacy of Darwinism, is something that students should know about and when they know about it, that's a benefit."
The victory seems to already be making an impact in Ohio schools. Fink noted that after the board's preliminary vote in October indicating an "intent to adopt" the new science standards, many school districts called to say they were allowing students to openly debate intelligent design. Previously, she said, students did not know about intelligent design or did not feel comfortable discussing it in the classroom; however, now students are actively searching the Internet and other sources to learn more about it.
Additionally, the school board modified the definition of science itself to no longer reflect a naturalistic worldview. The new definition is, "Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, and theory building, which leads to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." This replaces the old definition, which said, "Scientific knowledge is limited to natural explanations for natural phenomena."
Despite this defeat, Darwinists can be expected to continue to fight any competition in the science classroom.
Before the vote, polls indicated that 70 percent of Ohioans supported "teaching the controversy" surrounding Darwinian evolution. About 30,000 people took the time to let the board know of their support. Fink said that's a clear lesson that people can influence public policy.
If you are an Ohio resident, please consider contacting your school district to urge them to allow intelligent design to be taught in your schools.
If you do not live in Ohio, please consider how you can begin influencing your state education officials to mandate teaching the controversy surrounding Darwinian evolution. A good first step would be to write your state board of education and express your desire to see them implement science standards on the teaching of biological origins that are similar to those enacted in Ohio.
Terry Phillips, State Issues Producer
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OHIO ROUNDTABLE - The Public Square
Intelligent design victory
December 16, 2002
The final vote is in and the victory is unanimous.
After a year of contentious debate the State School Board in Ohio has unanimously agreed to new state science standards. These standards, for the first time in the nation, recognize that thinking people do not all agree on Darwinian evolution. The standards permit the recognition of the controversy and a discussion of Intelligent Design.
This is a very small but significant first step. For the past 50 years freedom of thought and expression has been disappearing from public school classrooms. Textbooks, handbooks, and course instructions have dictated an evolution-only presentation of origins.
The Darwinian model has been the single unifying element of modern science. Teaches who differed were forced into silence. Students who disagreed were often shunned, even persecuted. Now the state of Ohio has officially recognized a legitimate controversy exists that should no longer be walled-off behind the power of academic and political correctness.
This remarkable struggle pitted the powers of the academic establishment against free thinking scientists and the taxpaying public. Scores of decent, highly-credentialed scientists came forward and challenged the status quo. Thousands of citizens came to meetings, wrote letters and made phone calls to elected officials.
This was a wonderful example of how the system of representative government can work if people who truly care spend the time, energy and effort to make a difference. And this is just the beginning. So if you wrote, called, went to meetings, prayed and sacrificed - thank you. There is much, more to do so please stay tuned and stay connected.
David Zanotti, President
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