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by Eugenie C. Scott
Dear Ohio Citizens for Science,
Well, you did it.
On December 12 the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted 7-3 not to require biology textbooks to include an evolution "disclaimer". Opponents of evolution education had proposed that Louisiana require a version of the disclaimer placed in all Alabama biology texts since 1996. Alabama remains the only state with such a requirement.
On December 10 the Ohio Board of Education unanimously voted to adopt new science standards which will guide public school curriculum and testing across the state. For the first time Ohio's standards will explicitly include the concept of evolution. Local supporters of science education consider the new standards a great improvement over the previous statewide guidelines, especially in their treatment of biological evolution.
The board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released a "Resolution on Intelligent Design Theory" that states, in part, that
Whereas, the ID movement has failed to offer credible scientific evidence to support their claim that ID undermines the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution;
Whereas the ID movement has not proposed a scientific means of testing its claims;
The Board of Education in Ohio is preparing to approve new state standards for public school science classes. Proposed standards were approved by the Standards Committee on October 14, 2002 and forwarded to the full board for consideration and adoption before the end of the year. The topic of evolution has been by far the most contentious element in the science standards throughout their development. Most Ohio scientists and teachers who have been following events consider the new standards a great improvement over previous treatments, especially regarding evolution.
A survey of Ohio university scientists shows that they overwhelmingly view "intelligent design" as a religious, not a scientific, concept. The survey was conducted by faculty at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Cincinnati, and results were announced at a press conference on October 10. Professor Joseph Koonce, Chair of the Department of Biology at Case Western, issued the following statement:
Contrary to some recent press reports, the "Theories of Origin" policy adopted by the Cobb County, Georgia, Board of Education on September 26, 2002, specifically disallows the teaching of creationism. As enacted, the policy explicitly states that, “It is the intent of the Cobb County Board of Education that this policy not be interpreted to restrict the teaching of evolution; to promote or require the teaching of creationism; or to discriminate for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, religion in general, or non-religion.”
An organization which has actively promoted intelligent design creationism and opposed evolution education in Kansas and Ohio in recent years has now opened a branch in New Mexico. Intelligent Design network, inc. ("IDnet") of Shawnee Mission, Kansas announced the creation of Intelligent Design Network of New Mexico in a July 23 press release. The announcement implies that IDnet is also looking to expand to other states as well. IDnet is led by retired lawyer John Calvert; IDnet of New Mexico will be led by Joe Renick, a mechanical engineer.
The district’s current policy entitled "Theories of Origin" dates from 1995. It reads as follows: