Vote on Evolution in Ohio

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The curriculum debate is coming to a head in Ohio, USA. Will it become the first State in the nation to let teachers ‘teach the controversy’ about evolution?

The curriculum debate is coming to a head in Ohio, USA. Will it become the first State in the nation to let teachers “teach the controversy” about evolution? Even the Cincinnati Enquirer declared bluntly in a 3 September editorial, “Teach all the evidence.” But the signs are not encouraging.

When the Standards Committee of the Ohio Board of Education meets on Monday (9 September), at the top of its list will be the proposed new science curriculum standards, approved earlier this year by an appointed “writing team.”

Unfortunately, the current version of the standards completely ignores the public outcry for more balance in the treatment of evolution. In fact, the writers made sure that their final draft clearly supports evolution over billions of years without the slightest hint of controversy. If passed in its current form, the standards will expect students, among other things, to “explain the formation of the Sun, Earth and the rest of the Solar System from a nebular cloud of dust and gas approximately 4.6 billion years ago.”

Ohio’s Governor Bob Taft, who is up for re-election in November, is reportedly working behind the scenes to short-circuit any efforts to modify the evolutionary propaganda in the science standards. In so doing, however, the governor is ignoring the opinions of the vast majority of people in his State (Teach “Intelligent Design”), as well as the deluge of public comments that favor teaching both sides of the controversy.

The debate first flared up in late 2001, when some Ohio citizens objected to the initial draft of the science standards (see Creationism battle heats up again in US schools). A vocal minority argued that the State should allow teachers to give evidence against evolution and for “intelligent design” as an alternative. (See AiG’s 30 August 2002 response to the whole ID movement—AiG’s Commentary on the ID (Intelligent Design) Movement.) The Ohio Board of Education even hosted a forum on ID (see Eyes of the Science World Turn to Columbus, Ohio, USA). But the writing team refused to budge.

If the Standards Committee approves the proposed standards on Monday, the draft will then go to the full Board of Education. (The Standards Committee is made up of select members of the Board.) The future of the science standards ultimately rests with the full Board, which meets on 10 September and 15 October. By law, the Board must approve a final version of the standards by 31 December.

Answers in Genesis does not believe that governments should require teachers to teach creation, but it seems reasonable that state and local officials should protect the liberty of teachers and students to discuss the problems with evolution and to offer alternative explanations (see Equal time for creation in Cobb County?).


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