California education chief assails "intelligent design"


Speaking at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum on September 28, 2005, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell declared that "intelligent design" was unwelcome in California's public school science classes. "The introduction of intelligent design theory in natural science courses would be a blow to the integrity of education in California," O'Connell said. "Our state has been recognized across the country and around the world for the quality and rigor of our academic standards. Just like I will fight tooth and nail to protect California's high academic standards, I will fight to ensure that good science is protected in California classrooms."

In studies of state standards conducted by the Fordham Foundation, California was among only a handful of states to earn the grade of A, for both its science standards in general and its treatment of evolution in particular. From Pennsylvania, where the trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover is ongoing, NCSE's executive director commented, "California's unsurpassed state science standards treat evolution appropriately: as the central, powerful, unifying principle of the biological sciences that it is. I am gratified that Superintendent O'Connell recognizes the need to defend the teaching of evolution against religiously motivated and scientifically unwarranted attacks."

O'Connell also said, "The goal of public education is for students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for California's work force to be competitive in the global, information-based economy of the 21st Century. ... We also want to give students the tools to become critical thinkers and to be able to discuss and reflect on philosophical questions. But, the domain of the natural sciences is the natural world. Science is limited by its tools -- observable facts and testable hypothesis. Because religious beliefs are based on faith, and are not subject to scientific test and refutation, these beliefs should not be taught in the realm of natural sciences."