After a year of hype, evolution still dominates the new science standards in Ohio, USA, and-at the last minute-“intelligent design” was excluded by name from the standards. The Ohio Board of Education unanimously approved the final guidelines yesterday, 10 December.
Supporters of intelligent design (the belief that a supernatural designer made the universe) had been holding a glimmer of hope. At its meeting on 15 October, the board had added a provocative amendment: students should be able to “describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” Many proponents of intelligent design saw this as a victory in their campaign to let teachers “teach the controversy.”
To eliminate any such misunderstanding about the intent of the amendment, however, the board decided to add a new disclaimer: “The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of Intelligent Design.”
The word games are finally over. Just as we suspected, the highly politicized school board-under intense pressure from the evolution lobby-lacked the courage to stand up for the freedom of teachers to deal honestly and openly with the controversies about origins and the serious weaknesses of evolution. (For the full history of the Ohio controversy, see Vote on Evolution in Ohio and Vote in Ohio Stirs Evolution Controversy.)
Technically, local school districts in Ohio are still free to decide how to handle intelligent design. However, students must still take the state tests that are based on the state standards. So one can presume that the local schools will bow to the new state standards.
Thus, the latest challenge to “big bang” evolution in US schools has gone out with a whimper.