- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

The Ohio Board of Education has broadened the definition of "science" to allow instructors to "teach the controversy" of evolution.
After a year of debate on whether new science standards should mandate teaching of "intelligent design" and criticism of Darwinian evolution, the 17-member school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt two compromise statements.
The new language does not limit life sciences to materialism, which some consider a kind of atheism, and says students must learn how scientists "critically analyze" Darwinism and not just accept it dogmatically.
Ohioans who support evolutionary theory say that they won the debate because the standards are the strongest the state has had, while backers of intelligent design assert victory because students will learn criticism of Charles Darwin's theory.
"The standards are tremendous, and they don't open the door to intelligent design," said Patricia Princehouse, a Case Western Reserve University professor with Ohio Citizens for Science, an anti-creationism group.
She said creationists also lost on other demands, such as teaching that the earth is several thousand years old, in accord with the account in Genesis.
Robert Lattimer, a member of the standards writing team who is also with Science Excellence for All Ohioans, a group criticizing Darwinism, said students will now hear the weaknesses of the evolutionary theory.
"A large majority of Ohioans favors the 'teach-the-controversy' approach," said Mr. Lattimer, a chemist who argues that intelligent design is a scientific theory.
The two-part change, he said, "acknowledges a growing number of credentialed scientists, including over 50 from Ohio, who endorse" students learning about problems with Darwin's theory.
Many states have debated how to handle evolution as they upgrade science standards, but only Ohio had a serious debate on including "intelligent design," the idea that nature features design, not just random evolution.
In the first of the two changes, the definition of science has been broadened to "a systematic method of continuing investigation" of nature. It replaced the previous contention that science is limited to "natural explanations," which, according to some, rules out any concept of a Creator.
Ms. Princehouse said the change is "innocuous." But Mr. Lattimer said it allows students to consider that a higher force can be part of how science interprets the world.
The second statement requires that teachers "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."
The decision by a five-member standards committee followed a year of hearings and public opinion polls indicating that Ohioans liked the idea of "teaching the controversy."
The entire board unanimously approved the alterations on Tuesday.
Ohio school districts are not required to teach the state science standards.
But assessments of district achievement and a graduation test for high school seniors are based on the standards.
Earlier this year, the board was told by Ohio's congressmen that the standards should reflect the evolution-instruction language in President Bush's "No Child Left Behind Act," a federal law that funds state education.
The act says, "Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist [and] why such topics may generate controversy."
The standards face one more public hearing next month.
The Ohio superintendent of schools must present them to education panels in the state legislature, where bills have been drafted to mandate criticism of evolution in science classes if the standards did not make that a requirement.
The final vote on the standards will be held in December, after which Ohio must design a science curriculum and assessment tests based on the standards.


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