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More on the Ohio victory


The Ohio Board of Education voted 11-4 at its February 14, 2006, meeting to remove both the "Critical Analysis of Evolution" model lesson plan and the corresponding indicator -- which called for students to be able to "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory" -- in the state standards. Board member Martha Wise, who spearheaded the drive to eliminate the antievolution material, told [Link broken] the Cleveland Plain Dealer (February 15, 2006), "I'm ecstatic ... It's a win for science, a win for students and a win for the state of Ohio."

Pressure on the board of education was renewed after both the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover and the revelation that the lesson plan was adopted by the board despite warnings from the Ohio Department of Education, whose experts described it as wrong, misleading, and even manifesting "fringe thinking." A motion to remove the lesson plan failed in January on a 9-8 vote. Subsequently, a thinly veiled reproach from Governor Bob Taft and a stinging rebuke from a majority of a committee that helped to write the standards added to the pressure.

Groups that contributed to the victory were gratified by the vote. Foremost among them was Ohio Citizens for Science, which commented, "The Directors and members of Ohio Citizens for Science applaud the Ohio State Board of Education for removing the creationist material from the State Standards and Model Curriculum. We are pleased that Members of the Board have affirmed the importance of honest science education in Ohio public schools, and we stand ready to assist the Board however we can in advancing that effort."

Additionally, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott described the vote as "a stunning triumph for the students of Ohio's public schools and a stunning repudiation of the all-too-successful attempts of creationists to undermine evolution education in the Buckeye State. Let's hope that all such attempts to introduce creationism by the back door meet the same fate." The Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State similarly commented, "This is a great victory for Ohio public school students."

Patricia Princehouse, a philosopher and evolutionary biologist at Case Western Reserve University and a leader of Ohio Citizens for Science, told the Chicago Tribune (February 15, 2006) that although the antievolution materials would be removed immediately, Ohio Citizens for Science plans to monitor board meetings to ensure that the material is not reintroduced in a new form. "The one thing we learned about creationists," she told the Tribune, "is that they never give up."

Ohio Citizens for Science's website [Link broken] has further details on the board's historic vote, including the full text of the motion that was approved, MP3 audio files of the board's deliberations preceding the vote, a listing of how the various members of the board voted, and a brief explanation of "the circuitous route to approval" that the motion took. The website also contains (under "Lesson Plans") detailed descriptions of the scientific and pedagogical flaws of the "Critical Analysis of Evolution" lesson plan repudiated by the board's vote.