October 23, 2002
By Mark Hartwig
On Oct. 15, the Ohio Board of Education unanimously approved new science education standards that mandate teaching the controversy about biological origins. Instead of presenting a Darwin-only curriculum, Ohio schools will be required to teach students about the scientific controversies surrounding evolutionary theory. The new science standards also allow the state's school districts to decide for themselves whether or not to teach scientific alternatives to Darwin's theory of evolution.
The new standards specifically require that students be able to describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. Students will be required to demonstrate this ability on state tests.
Mark Edwards, a spokesman for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which has been stumping for such language since March, praised the board's action.
The new standards acknowledge that there are scientific criticisms of evolution and that these criticisms are ongoing, Edwards said. The board acknowledged the existence of the ongoing debate and called for this to be an item for students to be educated on.
One of the growing alternative theories to Darwinism is called intelligent design, which teaches that living organisms arose not from blind natural processes, but from an intelligent, purposeful source. Although the new Ohio standards do not mention intelligent design, board members emphasized that Ohio school districts have the freedom to choose for themselves whether or not to teach it. This freedom is reinforced by a definition of science in the standards that effectively dethrones the philosophy of naturalism. The new definition reads:
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 a definition which said scientific knowledge is limited to natural explanations for natural phenomena.
After a period of public comment, the Ohio Board of Education plans to take a final vote on its proposed science standards in December. While the vote is expected to be more of a formality, board members are expected to be lobbied by Darwin supporters to reverse course.
If you live in another area of the country and are troubled by your school's or district's one-sided treatment of evolution, here are some resources to help you bring about a change:
If you want to introduce others to intelligent design and criticisms of Darwins theory, the videos Icons of Evolution and Unlocking the Mystery of Life, may be just the ticket. These videos were aired in Cobb County, Ga., and major viewer markets in Ohio.
Scientific polls of public opinion have consistently shown overwhelming support for teaching the controversy. That includes a Zogby national poll, conducted in September 2001, a Zogby Ohio poll conducted in May 2002 and a poll conducted for the Cleveland Plain Dealer in June 2002.
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File Date: 10.23.02
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