Not over in Dover


The controversy over the Dover (Pennsylvania) Area School Board's resolution reading "Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design" continues to reverberate. On November 30, 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle carried a lengthy front page story entitled "Anti-evolution teachings gain foothold in U.S. schools," focusing on the situation in Dover. NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was cited as regarding the school board's decision as part of a growing trend: "There is a new energy as a result of the last election, and I anticipate an even busier couple of years coming on," she told the Chronicle. Although proponents of "intelligent design" usually maintain a strategic silence on the identity of the intelligent designer, the story observed, "supporters of the new curriculum in this religiously conservative slice of rural Pennsylvania say they know exactly who the intelligent designer is." (Similarly, an Associated Press story on December 1, 2004, quoted a local as saying that anyone who opposes the introduction of "intelligent design" in the Dover Area schools is "taking a stand against God.") Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Chronicle that his organization is deciding whether to sue the school board over the resolution.

A story in the December 3, 2004, York Daily Record presents the local teachers' reaction to the resolution. Bill Miller, a union spokesman for the Dover Area Education Association, said that teachers were confused and frustrated by the lack of guidance as to how they are supposed to implement the resolution. Although the district administration promised eventually to develop guidelines collaboratively with the teachers, Miller said that the union would not do so: "If we have any directional discussions with the administration on how to answer these questions, it implies that we are cooperating on the issue," he told the Daily Record. "If given a direction by the administration, we will not be insubordinate. But they must be the ones to say how we answer the students in this area." Miller also disputed the administration's claim that the teachers were involved in the framing of the resolution -- "We never developed any language that allowed intelligent design into the classroom" -- and noted a seeming inconsistency between the resolution's proviso that "origins of life" will not be taught and the district's characterization of "intelligent design" as "an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view." "We are really struggling with all of this," Miller said.

Story in the San Francisco Chronicle

Story in the York Daily Record [Link is broken]