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Developments in Dover


by Nick Matzke

Several new developments have occurred surrounding the controversy in Dover, Pennsylvania over the "intelligent design" textbook Of Pandas and People and the passage of a policy requiring the teaching of intelligent design.

On December 6, 2004, another member of the Dover Area School Board resigned. Angie Yingling, who had originally voted in favor of the board's policy mandating intelligent design, decided to resign after her motion to reconsider the policy received no second. The Dover Area School Board attracted national scrutiny after its October 18, 2004, decision mandating the teaching of intelligent design and forbidding teaching on the origins of life. Two board members, Jeff and Carol Brown, had previously resigned in protest of the October 18 decision.

According to the York Daily Record, Yingling "said that after thinking about it, she regrets voting Oct. 18 to add intelligent design to the student curriculum. But she said she did so because many on the board pressured her by accusing her of being an atheist and un-Christian." According to the York Dispatch, Yingling told the board, "We've got our point across to the local, state and national levels," continuing, "It's wrong, I think it's wrong, and you know it's wrong; it's against state and federal law, and you know it."

In a York Daily Record story published on December 5, Bertha Spahr, the head of the science department at Dover Area High School, contended that none of the science faculty in the Dover schools had helped to write the long statement about intelligent design that the Dover Area School Board now required to be read in classrooms. She thus contradicted the school board, which had said in a press release announcing the statement [Link is broken] that the statement had been developed in coordination with the science faculty. Spahr added that the science department would not help to write responses to possible student questions about intelligent design, fearing that such activity would implicate the teachers in unconstitutional religious advocacy.

On December 6, 2004, the York Dispatch published an editorial by Paul R. Gross and Barbara Forrest, authors of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design. In "School boards shouldn't compete in creationists' self-serving game," [Link is broken] Gross and Forrest announced that "Dover is the leading contender in the world series of scientific nonsense. What puts Dover ahead is that its board has become the first in the country to explicitly mandate the teaching of both 'intelligent design' and evolution in its biology curriculum." They go on to argue that intelligent design, far from being good science, is a scientifically bankrupt and religiously motivated assault on evolution.

Two new web resources pertinent to the controversy in Dover, Pennsylvania, are now available. First, the York Daily Record has set up a special page, "Dover Biology" [Link is broken] archiving their reporting on the controversy over teaching intelligent design. Second, NCSE has established a new Resources page on Of Pandas and People [Link is broken], containing many scientific reviews of Pandas and articles from NCSE Reports detailing the history of Pandas and its promotion by creationists.


Articles

Bernhard-Bubb, Heidi (2004). "Another Dover school board member quits." [Link is broken] York Dispatch, December 7, 2004.
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/Stories/0,1413,138~10023~2581903,00.html [Link is broken]

Maldonado, Joseph (2004). "Dover Area loses an official, again" [Link is broken] York Daily Record, December 7, 2004.
http://ydr.com/story/doverbiology/51772/ [Link is broken]

Maldonado, Joseph (2004). "Dover science faculty uneasy" [Link is broken] York Daily Record, December 5, 2004.
http://ydr.com/story/doverbiology/51503/ [Link is broken]

Gross, Paul and Forrest, Barbara (2004). "School boards shouldn't compete in creationists' self-serving game" [Link is broken], York Dispatch, December 6, 2004.
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/Stories/0,1413,138~10027~2579796,00.html [Link is broken]

York Daily Record special section on Dover controversy
http://ydr.com/news/doverbiology/ [Link is broken]

NCSE Resources page on Of Pandas and People
http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=21