Associated Press, December 10, 2002

School board approves science guidelines that include evolution

by Liz Sidoti

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The state school board unanimously approved science standards Tuesday that take a stronger stance on evolution but allow critical analysis of the theory.

However, the board added a disclaimer saying the standards do not require the teaching of the alternate concept of "intelligent design."

Backers of evolution had argued that allowing students to analyze the theory would open the way to teaching the alternate concept of how life began.

"Unfortunately it's being misrepresented by adults to fight their own battles," Joe Roman, co-chairman of the standards committee, said of the wording that advocated analysis of Charles Darwin's theory that life evolved by natural processes.

School board members struggled for 11 months to write the new standards. In October, the 19-member board indicated that it would unanimously adopt standards that included evolution and its analysis.

Current standards for teaching science to the state's 1.8 million students don't mention the word "evolution." They recommend teaching "change through time" but are not specific about what that involves.

The standards are guidelines, but students will be tested on the material in exams that they must pass to graduate. Local school districts currently have the power to decide whether evolution should be the only life concept examined.

Jeffrey McKee, an associate anthropology professor at Ohio State University, asked the board Tuesday to require students to analyze and investigate all scientific theories, not just evolution.

"Critical analysis of evolution has been interpreted as criticism against evolution and is being seen as a way to support creationism in the classroom," he said.

Critics of intelligent design -- the idea that life had to be guided by a higher power -- argue that the concept is creationism, which courts have barred from public schools. Intelligent design supporters deny that.

Robert Lattimer, a chemist and member of the team that wrote the standards, said he was uncomfortable that several areas deal with evolution as a fact and not a theory. However, he said, the language allowed teachers to look at all aspects of the concept.

"Neither side got everything they wanted," Lattimer said before the vote. "But clearly the best course of action is to pass this now as is."

Copyright 2002 Associated Press.

File Date: 12.11.02