Ohio Wakes Up

On the 14th, the state of Ohio took notice that its “teach the controversy” position, using the phrase “critical analysis”, was actually implemented in such a way that it endorsed creationist argument. The state board voted to remove the “critical analysis” lesson phrase, the part of the benchmark in the standards that set it up for teaching, and charged a committee with looking into what, if anything, needed to be inserted instead.

Along the way, board members discussed the decision from the Dover case and also testimony that was taken in Kansas last year. That’s right, the special hearings that Kansas held to plump for “teaching the controversy” played a role in today’s decision. It was noted that two of the people most closely associated with Ohio’s “critical analysis” lesson plan and benchmark language, Dr. Dan Ely and Bryan Leonard, had testified in Kansas. That testimony included questioning by Pedro Irigonegaray on behalf of the majority draft standards, wherein he asked about the age of the earth. Ely had said that perhaps the earth was only 5,000 years old; Leonard refused to take a stance. In any court case that might result from the Ohio “critical analysis” lesson plan, one could be sure that these two people would be called to the stand. Where would that put Ohio when those who were supposed to verify the scientific value of the lesson plan were shown to have anti-science leanings, or to have refused to answer such a simple and straightforward question?

Of course, another factor was that the Americans United for Separation of Church and State had made an Open Records request for the materials concerning the development, evaluation, and adoption of the “critical analysis” lesson plan. While the process of analysis of materials is still underway, it is already clear that the reviewers of the lesson plan did, in fact, recognize the arguments as the same old creationism material. And it is in the record. This, too, would be certain to be featured in any possible lawsuit.

So the board made its decision, one that helps preserve science-only being taught in the science classes of the state, and aims to remove what clearly is non-science from those classrooms. The Discovery Institute is already whining mightily about this; expect to see a couple of weeks of overwrought prose gushing forth from the DI and IDNet. Will this be the final word in Ohio? It is too early to tell. Currently, the likelihood that Ohio will be the focus of the next major lawsuit over antievolution is declining. It seemed that various ID advocates have wanted to have a test case come about in Ohio or Kansas. At this point, expect a strategic shift of emphasis from Ohio to Kansas.

Update: Anybody who wants the complete set of Waterloos will want something from the Waterloo in Ohio collection.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

2 thoughts on “Ohio Wakes Up

  • 2006/02/15 at 12:06 pm

    On the topic of the next battleground for ID in the last paragraph, what is the word on SC?

  • 2006/02/15 at 3:54 pm

    In SC, the Education Oversight Committee voted to reject the Grade 10 standards on evolutionary biology and sent a proposed “compromise” version to the State Board of Ed., which includes the infamous “critcally analyze” language. This was in spite of the clear objections of Inez Tennenbaum, the State Superintendent of Education who is an ex-officio member of the EOC (and has a background in law).

    So the science ed. folks are now setting up strategies for the next Board of Ed. public hearing, which I believe is scheduled for early March.

    There are several SC newspapers that are keeping track of these developments, but Chris Dixon of the Charleston Post and Courier probably has done the best job of reporting the latest developments.

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