Brief Ohio Report

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Late this afternoon (Jan 10) the Ohio State Board of Education, by a 8-9 vote, defeated a motion to delete the offending “Critical Analysis” lesson plan from the model curriculum. Two members were absent.

I described the situation earlier on The Thumb.

It now seems certain that it will take a lawsuit in federal court to pry it out of the state’s model curriculum. In fact, one ID-supporting board member said “Let them sue us”. I told the board in the public comments period after the vote that what it has done is create a “Dover trap” for every local school district in Ohio. Already there are rumors that some creationist teachers are going beyond the ID-based lesson plan to “supplement” it with more blatantly creationist material, with the excuse that “the state board says it’s OK”.

I’ll probably write more later and add links to news stories after I’ve had a drink or two and have calmed down. The board’s discussion of the motion this afternoon was as bitter and rancorous as I’ve ever seen, up to and including one of the two main ID-supporting Board Members, a former prosecutor, verbally abusing a graduate student who spoke during the public comments period.

RBH

34 Comments

Will we be able to get transcripts?

The Ohio Board doesn’t publish transcripts, and AFAIK trancripts are not normally made available. Meetings are recorded, though, so that’s a possibility. I’ll inquire. My digital recorder apparently malfunctioned a few minutes into the meeting, after working perfectly for two nights before today’s meeting, so I have no audio. Board minutes will be available on the Board’s web site after a while.

RBH

I am truly sorry. Both for the students in Ohio and for the parents of the district which will have to bear the expenses of another ‘Doveresque’ trial. Speaking as one who has an abiding interest in grad-students ($:->), what exactly did the student say?

Thanks for keeping us up to date. I didn’t think that the board would so easily reverse itself. Ohio seems to be at the center of every major political controversy in this country right now. It is hard to believe that these board members can actually believe that their crusade is furthering public education. Well, I guess they are educating the public about electing IDiots.

Give them enough rope…

The Ohio State Board situation is not as clear-cut as what went down in Dover. At least from my point of view. The offending line from the standards asks students to describe how “scientists today continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.”

While it seems clear from the news coverage that the addition of that line came from intelligent design proponents (and I recognize that Judge Jone’s devoted much space in his Kitzmiller ruling to the motives of the proponents’ efforts), this one is not nearly as obvious an attempt to cast doubt on the validity of evolutionary theory.

The role of epigenetics and junk DNA, to cite just two examples, are subject to critical analysis by evolutionary biologists, are they not? And I would be hard-pressed to object to the idea of asking students to “investigate and critically analyze aspects” of any other major element of a science curriculum. It’s called education.

I’m just as concerned about creeping ID across the country, but I suspect the Ohio perpetrators may have been smart enough to avoid running afoul of the law in this case.

James Hrynyshyn Wrote:

The Ohio State Board situation is not as clear-cut as what went down in Dover… And I would be hard-pressed to object to the idea of asking students to “investigate and critically analyze aspects” of any other major element of a science curriculum. It’s called education.

You may have bought the ID proponents description of the Ohio situation. Check out this analysis of the controversial lesson plan and see if you still think the DI’s Ohio Project is as benign as you thought.

Of course the model science lesson plans developed in response to the “critical analysis” benchmark is an atrocity. You’ll get no argument from me there. But that’s not my point. What I find worthy of debate is the benchmark, which, as I noted, appears to use very well chosen language, language that just might survive a court challenge, if my reading of Kitzmiller has any merit.

I suggest that maybe we should be focusing our attention on the lesson plan (as the Ohio Citizens for Science is doing, rather than the benchmark.

I suggest that maybe we should be focusing our attention on the lesson plan (as the Ohio Citizens for Science is doing, rather than the benchmark.

Perhaps I haven’t been paying close enough attention. I thought that’s what we were doing:

Dr. Hoppe Wrote:

Late this afternoon (Jan 10) the Ohio State Board of Education, by a 8-9 vote, defeated a motion to delete the offending “Critical Analysis” lesson plan from the model curriculum.

[emphasis mine.]

I am making CD copies of the Ken Miller presentation at Case Univeristy and a copy of Judge Jones ruling and sending them to all of the state education board members in my state. Perhaps those in Ohio could do the same.

James Hrynyshyn wrote

The Ohio State Board situation is not as clear-cut as what went down in Dover. At least from my point of view. The offending line from the standards asks students to describe how “scientists today continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.”

In itself the standard is not all that bad. Its main legal vulnerability is that it sigles out evolution only for “critical analysis”. But it is operationalized in model lesson plans, and the “Critical Analysis” lesson plan is straight out of Wells, Behe, and Of Pandas and People. It implies that many scientists think that there are no transitional fossils, that because Kettlewell didn’t see a new species emerge the pepperd moth studies are useless, that since we have not observed endosymbiosis form in the lab it is suspect, and so on. Every “challenge” to every “aspect” of evolution in that lesson plan comes straight out of the old creation science literature.

James Hrynyshyn further wrote

The role of epigenetics and junk DNA, to cite just two examples, are subject to critical analysis by evolutionary biologists, are they not? And I would be hard-pressed to object to the idea of asking students to “investigate and critically analyze aspects” of any other major element of a science curriculum. It’s called education.

Once again, the words are lovely, but as internal and external Department of Education reviewers of the lesson plan said, the author of the lesson plan clearly knows neither how scientists critically analyze new ideas, nor did he know what “critically analyze” means. The lesson plan does not embody “critical analysis” in any scientific sense of the phrase.

James Hrynyshyn further wrote

I suggest that maybe we should be focusing our attention on the lesson plan (as the Ohio Citizens for Science is doing, rather than the benchmark.

But that was the focus of yesterday’s meeting. The motion was to delete the offending lesson plan from the model curriculum.

Mr. Christopher wrote

I am making CD copies of the Ken Miller presentation at Case Univeristy and a copy of Judge Jones ruling and sending them to all of the state education board members in my state. Perhaps those in Ohio could do the same.

It’s too late in Ohio. The next step here will be in federal court. It’s not yet certain whether it will be the state board and DOE as defendants, or whether it will be some poor local school district that has been suckered by the “Dover trap” that the state board has set for them.

The other main proponent of the lesson plan on the state board, a professor of marketing, in remarks to several members of the public who spoke in the comment period after the vote, said it was a “liberal issue” (I waved my dogtags at her – I still carry them 45 years after they were issued to me in boot camp). She said that evolution encouraged atheism (or words to that effect: we don’t have tapes yet), and said that she’d be glad to see “critical analysis” in other sciences because “global warming should be examined, too”. I’m only surprised she didn’t mention HIV denial.

RBH

The offending line from the standards asks students to describe how “scientists today continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.”

Will students be “asked to describe” how scientists keep on rejecting ID after “critical analysis” because its objections have already been answered, it offers no testable hypotheses (none that haven’t already been proven false, anyway), and its proponents have no research or other material results to show for all their PR expenditures?

Sorry, folks, I didn’t make myself clear. The media coverage overwhelmingly targets to the benchmark, not the lesson. So perhaps we have work to do getting the message out beyond this forum

Yeah, it’s confusing, and the media are often confused about it. Few of them follow the issue closely enough to make the discriminations; Cathy Candinsky of the Columbus Dispatch is an exception. There are “Standards”, which contain “Benchmarks”, which are in turn operationally defined by “model lesson plans”.

RBH

Some news coverage

Columbis Disptach (Will be sent to the $$ archive in a few days)

Ohio State Lantern

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Newark OH Advocate (AP story)

Ohio Roundtable press release (Conservative ID-supporting organization.

I was at the meeting and was the undergraduate student (not graduate, but I wasn’t about to interrupt) who spoke to the board. I prepared a written statement and didn’t add much more.

I am here with the hope that most, ideally all, of you will make the right decision to endorse only lesson plans that teach science and leave no room for pseudo science. That the current “Critical Analysis of Evolution” lesson plan is full of inaccuracies and lies has been made very clear by Ohio Citizens for Science and several honest board members. No board member can now claim ignorance on the matter. You must make a decision: you can be stubborn and push for religious-based pseudo-science and jeopardize the future of the great state of Ohio or you can help ensure that Ohio will have an educated population that understands science and will continue to make great contributions to science. That can only happen, however, if real science is taught. The state of Ohio cannot afford to allow for students to be prodded by their schools to adopt ignorance over science. There are serious consequences for Ohio when virtually every other state produces students that know science while our students will not have a good understanding and will not be competitive. I believe that South Carolina is currently the state with the worst public education system, but if Ohio retains the current lesson plan we can certainly give them a run for their money. A potential lawsuit by Americans United would be both very costly to the state and a nationwide embarrassment. We don’t need to project a negative image that here in Ohio we don’t care for fancy-shmancy science and will instead accept a “theory” which fails right off the bat by saying living beings are “too complex” (by what standards?) to have evolved on their own and therefore must have been created. For anyone to push their own religious beliefs as science to the detriment of our society is just selfish. I hope you will all take a stand for good, 100% science, and contrary to what some say: no, you do not need to give up a belief God or religion in general to favor evolution. Thank you all for your time.

Mrs. Owens Fink had brought up how these “liberal” university professors were against issue 1 last year (anti-gay constitutional amendment) and how evolution leads some to Atheism and even to promote it. I had already commented on religion and evolution in my statement, but I added that supporting gay marriage isn’t “liberal” it’s just following the Constitution which grants all of us equal rights. Mr. Cochran was incensed with the insinuation that some board members were dishonest and asked if I thought half the board was dishonest. I basically said that if they are trying to pass off pseudo-science as science…yes.

Good on ya, Keith!

how evolution leads some to Atheism and even to promote it.

But ID isn’t about religion. No sirree Bob.

Is there documentation somewhere for this statement? It will be solid gold, in court.

I guess the whole Dover “won’t someone stand up for Jay-sus” (and its consequences) thingie just didn’t penetrate those thick heads, huh.

That’s what I love about fundies — they are by far their own worst enemies. Just let them talk long enough, and they shoot themselves in the head every time. Ain’t none of them can go ten minutes without shouting “Jesus saves !!!!!!” (shrug)

This from Michael Cochran, Ohio Board of Education member and lawyer, quoted at the end of the Columbus Dispatch article:

“If they think we are wrong — take us to court.”

“If they think we are wrong — take us to court.”

Ha ha. little does he know we have 9, possibly even 10, lawyers. How unfair.

Geoff, you just made my day!

And, on that brilliantly humorous note–I’ll see all you folks later, ‘cause it be pizza time!

I already *had* my pizza for the day. You’re late off the mark there Steviepinhead!

Hey Pizza Guy, where the heck is *my* pizza?????

Pizza for lunch sounds good.

Here in Wisconsin, I understand Governor Doyle has made it quite clear that ID = religion = not in our science classes. Of course, the education standards are so vague as to earn an F. …

Jesus DOES save.… at Trinity First National Bank

Best Regards

Congrats to Keith for standing up. Thank you.

As for Ohio Board of Educ meeting minutes, I was told the following in an email from Catherine Clark-Eich who works for the board, “The minutes are not available until after they are approved at the next Board meeting which is February 13-14. There is no other summary of the votes or discussion available.”

Open records. Anyone should be able to get the minutes. Who keeps the minutes and what they contain, I have no clue.

Jill Wrote:

Open records. Anyone should be able to get the minutes. Who keeps the minutes and what they contain, I have no clue.

Officially, there are no minutes until the board approves them. Common (and sensible) practice.

Debbie’s remarks about atheism, liberalism, and global warming won’t be in the minutes – they were side remarks in the course of her responses to public comment on non-agenda items, and they will disappear into a black hole. And my bet is that the audio tapes of the meeting will have an 18.5 minute gap.

RBH

And my bet is that the audio tapes of the meeting will have an 18.5 minute gap.

that’s where the entire audience was transported via a wormhole to an alternate space-time reality, right?

gees. in the next meeting, I’m sure she will say something like:

“all you liberal hippies are against the US! If you don’t love it, leave it!”

am i far off base there?

RBH: That’s a disappointment. There’s going to be another monkey trial in Ohio then.

I agree that the situation in Ohio is disappointing - idiotic even. I don’t know how long “intelligent design” will retain any meaningful social currency (it certainly doesn’t have any scientific or academic currency) but I hope the answer is “not much longer.”

Still, post-Kitzmiller situations like the one in Ohio, or the one last week in California, get everybody so up in arms that I’m worried about carrying the criticism of intelligent design too far - toward the unthinking acceptance of evolutionary theory.

Not that I think evolution is incorrect or incomplete. Far from it. I think it is extraordinary, so extraordinary in fact that is yet to be fully understood and explained in all its nuanced complexity.

Which is why we should be careful not to allow our disapprobation of forced criticism (in the form of requiring that alternatives to intelligent design be taught) to turn into a more general aversion to critical analysis of evolutionary theory.

I’m curious what folks think about this. I’ve written a more detailed column on my own blog (http://farragonews.blogspot.com/200[…]-design.html) if anybody is interested in reading it.

-Tim

Which is why we should be careful not to allow our disapprobation of forced criticism (in the form of requiring that alternatives to intelligent design be taught) to turn into a more general aversion to critical analysis of evolutionary theory.

What “critical analysis” did you have in mind?

There are lots of scientific arguments over HOW evolution happens. There are no scientific arguments over WHETHER evolution happens.

Evolution is “critically analyzed” in science journals every month. It always passes with flying colors.

There are lots of scientific arguments over HOW evolution happens. There are no scientific arguments over WHETHER evolution happens.

Evolution is “critically analyzed” in science journals every month. It always passes with flying colors

I agree, and that’s exactly the kind of critical analysis I have in mind. My concern is not that critical analysis of evolutionary theory is lacking at the highest levels of academia.

It is a concern that proponents of evolution not be seen by the public as advocating a theory of evolution that is fully understood, explicated, and beyond modification. That simply isn’t the case, as you are well aware.

I think it’s important to continue to press a more nuanced message than “evolution is right, intelligent design is wrong.” The theory of evolution is correct not only because it works, but because it admits of the kind of revision and expansion that critical analysis provides.

Ultimately, I don’t think there’s much dispute here…it’s mostly a matter of framing the debate.

It is a concern that proponents of evolution not be seen by the public as advocating a theory of evolution that is fully understood, explicated, and beyond modification. That simply isn’t the case, as you are well aware.

I’m not aware of any person making such an argument. Can you give a few examples?

There are plenty of things in evolution that we don’t yet understand, just as there are in every other area of science. That, after all, is why scientists still have jobs.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on January 10, 2006 8:23 PM.

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