Ohio Governor Taft Now Opposes ID

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Cleveland Plain Dealer Story Update

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has the story now, and has a stronger quote from Governor Taft:

“I think we ought to be teaching evolution,” Taft said. “I think intelligent design should not be part of the standards and should not be tested. I want to know what their views are before I decide whether to reappoint them.”

Taft also said he was chagrined by the tone of the January board meeting, which included personal attacks between board members.

In one instance, two board members read the newspaper as members of the public testified about the science standards.

“That’s not a good way to do business,” Taft said.

The money phrase here is “… intelligent design should not be part of the standards …”. It is the “critically analyze” standard that is the gateway through which the intelligent design creationist pseudo-science was wedged into the model curriculum.

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Original Entry

In an exclusive story in the February 3, 2006, Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Governor Bob Taft is reported to have said that he doesn’t think intelligent design should be taught in Ohio schools. According to the story, Taft doesn’t think the standards include intelligent design, but he called for “… a legal review of the companion lesson plan to ensure that Ohio is not vulnerable to a lawsuit”.

Taft also said he would question potential appointees to the Board more closely on the issue.

“There were cases in which I didn’t ask the right questions, in some cases where I supported someone for election or appointment,” Taft said this week when asked about the issue during a meeting with Dispatch editors and reporters.

“I’ll be asking that question now, I can assure you.”

Unfortunately, Taft wouldn’t elaborate on what he would consider a satisfactory answer. Taft will appoint four members to the Ohio State Board of Education before his term expires in early 2007. The four current occupants of those appointments all voted in favor of the ID-originated standard for 10th grade biology and for inclusion of the ID creationist model lesson plan when a motion to delete it was defeated in 2004. One changed his vote in the recent narrow vote (9-8) to retain it.

This is a reversal for a Governor whose chief of staff when the science standards were being considered, Brian Hicks, lobbied the Governor’s appointees on the Ohio Board of Education to support an ID-based science standard, benchmark, and model lesson plan. (Hicks’ emails were made public during another scandal in Ohio, “Coingate”.) In every OBOE vote on the standards, benchmarks and model curriculum, the Governor’s appointees obediently voted as a block to support the ID-based material with the recent exception noted above.

Ohio ID supporters publicly boasted about the Governor’s role in the process of developing tainted standards. In November 2003, Robert Lattimer, a prominent Ohio ID creationist, described the background for Taft’s earlier support

Our Governor is a moderate Republican. He was up for election last fall. He had done a couple of things that angered conservative voters, and he knew he needed conservative voters to win the election.

Lattimer went on to boast of the result the political pressure from ID’s creationist troops had on the Governor’s role:

And finally the Governor responded and the result was that the ‘teach the controversy’ language that we’d [IDists] been proposing was adopted by the State Board of Education by a vote of 18 to nothing. That does not mean that all members of the State Board of Education supported our viewpoint. Actually, only 5 supported our viewpoint.

Most politicians do not care about this issue. They think it’s superfluous, it doesn’t mean anything. But they do react to public opinion because that’s what keeps them in office. So that’s why they got an 18-0 vote. The public opinion was so strong in our favor. And the Governor was twisting some arms. He appoints 8 of those members, but he has pretty much influence on the whole Board. (Taped at Darwin, Design and Democracy IV, Minneapolis, November 15, 2003; tape purchased from Intelligent Design Network, organizer of the ID conference)

Hicks’ email corroborates Lattimer’s version. Hicks, now a member of the Ohio State University Board of Trustees, recently declined to comment on his role in the State Board of Education’s decisions.

The Governor’s office, and therefore the science standards, were subject to intense political pressure from the religious right, pressure orchestrated in part by at least one member of the Ohio State Board of Education. In documents released by the Ohio Department of Education to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, we learned that OBOE member Deborah Owens-Fink, who has close ties to the religious right, threatened to “bring the state down” on the Board and Governor if the ID-based material was not accepted by the board.

And if the strategy wasn’t obvious enough, Lattimer favored us with this remark in his Minneapolis talk

This is the language that we got in the Standards that was approved in December of last year. Again, it’s pretty moderate language. It’s pretty modest. It’s not anything earthshaking, but it gives us that wedge, a foot in the door that enables us to teach origins with more objectivity than we had before.

Wedging Creationism into Ohio

As we know, intelligent design “theory” has no content save the claim that something or other designed something or other sometime, and somehow or other manufactured whatever was designed without leaving any traces of the existence of the designer, the manufacturer, or the manufacturing process. It is no more than recycled creation science relabeled with a few new terms. For example, Behe’s “irreducible complexity” replaced Henry Morris’ “organized complexity”. (Henry wasn’t happy about that.) And the federal courts have taken notice of the constancy of content underlying the changing labels. “Sham” is the word used. One hopes that Governor Taft’s legal advisors know that word.

The “critically evaluate” biology standard and benchmark are grounded in the “teach the controversy” approach conceived as a “compromise” by Stephen C. Meyer and Bruce Chapman of the Discovery Institute. That was announced by Meyer at a public debate before the Ohio Board of Education in 2002. Rather than teach intelligent design (which has no content, of course) Meyer and Chapman conceived the teach the controversy tactic on the eve of a debate before the Ohio Board of Education about whether to teach ID. Having nothing to teach, ID advocates had to come up with something. Essentially, “teach the controversy” repackages old-time creation science – distortions and flawed criticisms of evolutionary theory, singling it out for disparagement – but now calls it “critically evaluate evolution” or “critical analysis of evolution”. It pushes the same canards that have characterized creationism since the 1970s and earlier – our librarian has traced some of the content back into the 1920s. What the Discovery Institute sold in Ohio was old-time creationism repackaged as “critical analysis”. But the new label covers exactly the same old content.

The writing committees that developed the lesson plan that operationally defines the standard was packed with creationists. Referring to the writing committee for the creationist lesson plan, Lattimer boasted

We only got four of our people on that [Writing] Team. However, three of those people are on the critical grade 10 biology subgroup, 3 out of 7. Which has turned out to be enough. These three people are all excellent people. One’s a University professor, a Ph.D. biologist, who’s very influential. He’s the only Ph.D. biologist on that group. The second group is a .. ah .. high school science teacher, and the third is a junior college biology teacher. And they have had great influence on the group.

We know that the Ohio Department of Education knew what was going on. Both internal and external expert advisors told ODE managers about it. ODE advisors told senior managers that the material was filled with lies, over-simplifications, and inaccuracies. To repeat from my earlier post:

    “The sentence … is a lie.” (an ODE scientist referrring to the Fossil Record aspect “Sample Challenging Answer”; the lie is still in the lesson)

    “Not the real scientific world. The real religious world, yes!” (Outside Field Test Reviewer referring to the lesson plan as a whole)

    “As a tool to develop objective scientific critical thinking it is an insult.” (Outside Field Test Reviewer)

    “Not ‘scientific critical thinking’” (Outside Field Test Reviewer)

    “The lesson relies solely on the vacuous pedagogical tool of staged debate. There is no … value placed on intellectual growth or learning; rather, indoctrination is the apparent point of this lesson plan.” (Outside Field Test Reviewer)

    “ODE does not support this kind of teaching strategy.” (ODE Staff Member)

    “This should have been out. Horrible non-scientific citation.” (ODE Staff Member)

Add the phrases “whacky ID” and “crackpot” to the list: they’re also in the boxes of Americans United documents referring to the model lesson plan. I have no doubt that in the event of litigation, discovery will uncover more such juicy bits. Judge Jones’ opinion in Kitzmiller and other judgments in federal courts have clearly held that sham relabeling of creationism does not remove its sectarian taint, and Ohio’s “critically evaluate” standard, operationalized as the “Critical Analysis of Evolution” lesson plan, is a sham plain and simple. Available documents firmly establish that, and further documents obtained in discovery will only cement it more firmly in place. I hope Governor Taft’s legal advisors read for comprehension.

So now Governor Taft believes that intelligent design shouldn’t be taught to Ohio school children, but the benchmark and lesson plan still encourage it. We thank the Governor for (finally) seeing the light. Now it’s up to the Ohio State Board of Education to take action to excise the creationist lesson plan and the “critically evaluate” Benchmark that was its gateway to wedge into Ohio public schools. Somewhere in Ohio there’s a teacher using this glop, and that teacher’s school district is putting its foot (and its taxpayers money) into a Dover trap set by the State Board of Education. Father Michael Cochran of the State Board of Education may be willing to spend state money on a lawsuit, but what local district can afford what Dover is going to pay?

RBH

94 Comments

Judge Jones’ opinion in Kitzmiller and other judgements in federal courts have clearly held that sham relabeling of creationism does not remove its secular taint

Shouldn’t secular be sectarian?

I just want to make this point. The voters of Dover VOTED THE SCHOOL BOARD OUT!!! They are the KEY words! They VOTED THEM OUT! Every politian involved in this ID thing is jumping ship to save their political lives!!!! I myself think its too late, they are HISTORY!

See what happens when you (1) hit IDers with big fat lawsuits expenses and (2) vote the bastards out of office?

ID is dead.

Heathen Dan asked

Shouldn’t secular be sectarian?

Yes indeed, it should be and now is. The penalty for writing this at an ungodly hour of the morning. :)

Thanks. RBH

Too bad Taft is an idiot and no one is going to listen to him. He’s a lame duck because of his role in all the scandals in Ohio.

I had thought Taft, the “moderate Republican” would be the ultimate barrier between the wing-nuts of his party and the ability to actually implement the creationist agenda. That was before I realized that Taft was an invertebrate. I guess poll numbers in the 15% range are what it takes to get the attention of some politicians.

m arie wrote – I just want to make this point. The voters of Dover VOTED THE SCHOOL BOARD OUT!!! They are the KEY words! They VOTED THEM OUT! Every politian involved in this ID thing is jumping ship to save their political lives!!!! I myself think its too late, they are HISTORY!

Lenny Flank wrote – See what happens when you (1) hit IDers with big fat lawsuits expenses and (2) vote the bastards out of office?

The Dover decision has not intimidated public officials at the state level. They have continued to introduce proposals to add ID to public-school science classes.

Newspapers reported that one of the reasons for the relatively narrow defeats of the incumbent school board members in the Dover election was voter fear and resentment of the potential costs of the lawsuit. However, though the costs of these big lawsuits are a lot of money for little school districts like Dover’s, these costs are chicken feed for big states like Ohio.

I think that if the Ohio board of education were going to be sued, it would have been sued already (the same goes for the Kansas state school board). The case against the board is just too weak. There is no requirement that the board’s lesson plan for evolution be used in the public schools, and the lesson plan does not mention or include ID or creationism per se.

The Columbus Dispatch article says that the governor still supports critical analysis of evolution theory in the public schools – “The governor has said he supports the teaching of evolution in 10th-grade biology class and also backs critical analysis of the theory as called for in state standards.”

What worries me is what comes next in Ohio. Ken Blackwell seems to be the leading Republican - and he is heavily pandering to the fundagelicals. The other Republican - Jim Petro - seems to be marketing himself as “Blackwell lite” - but he did emphasize his personal faith in one TV ad.

The Dems as usual seem to be in disarray.

Good luck Larry they are not talking about a literate designer but an obdurate or recalcitrant designer.

In your case though as the leader of a minority group of one you could try for the credulous designer

Your headline is wrong. Taft doesn’t oppose ID now. He simply wants a version of ID that won’t result in lawsuits. That’s where he is going…

I gotta tell ya everyone there is a point were corruption gets so out of control and people get soo fed up I think this ID thing is icing on the “corruption cake” for a lot of people.

Andy H wrote: I think that if the Ohio board of education were going to be sued, it would have been sued already (the same goes for the Kansas state school board). The case against the board is just too weak. There is no requirement that the board’s lesson plan for evolution be used in the public schools, and the lesson plan does not mention or include ID or creationism per se.

Simply not mentioning ID or creationism per se is not going to cut it, when the “critical analysis of evolution” curriculum in itself consists entirely of well-known Creationist and ID arguments (Dover has clearly shown that word tricks do not really fool anyone in court, where job #1 is to look at and establish the substance of things). As for potential suits, it is my impression that any case would probably be brought not against the OH board per se, but against the first local district/school/teacher to implement the policy.

It should be noted, however, that most of these religious right ideologues couldn’t care less if their public school systems went bankrupt because of repeated legal entanglements. In fact, they probably would be just as happy - failing, underfunded public schools mean more kids available for private “education” where curricula can be tailored to any prevailing ideological preference, regardless of the pedagogical value or even veracity of content.

Basically, it’s a win-win situation for them: they either distort education to their anti-scientific goals and get away with it, or they “starve the beast” of public education by wasting its already limited finances in lawsuits. This is particularly obvious in Kansas, where some BoE members, in addition to undermining science education, seem plainly to be working to cripple the KS public education system as a whole. I am sure a similar dynamics is at play in Ohio.

I think that if the Ohio board of education were going to be sued, it would have been sued already (the same goes for the Kansas state school board). The case against the board is just too weak. There is no requirement that the board’s lesson plan for evolution be used in the public schools, and the lesson plan does not mention or include ID or creationism per se.

They have to take action and implement those standards, and then have someone file suit against them to be brought into court.

Having said that, Ohio is going to set itself up to be a laughingstock one way or another. The real impact, however, I do not think will be apparent at first. Universities in Ohio will have trouble recruiting strong students, and students from schools there will be taken less seriously by other states who know they are teaching crap.

I can’t name names, but I already know some admissions personnel at an east coast college who sort of chuckle about applicants from certain places because of this sort of thing. It only really hurts the students.

So now Governor Taft believes that intelligent design shouldn’t be taught to Ohio school children, but the benchmark and lesson plan still encourage it.

I think you are a bit over-generous there. From the Columbia Dispathc article:

The governor has said he supports the teaching of evolution in 10th-grade biology class and also backs critical analysis of the theory as called for in state standards.

Taft is still using ‘teach the controversy’ sort of language. He’s waffling. He’s lying.

Another letter to the Dispatch that won’t be printed:

The headline of the article: “Taft may re-ignite fuss over intelligent design”. “Re-ignite”? Proving, I guess, that there are still plenty of people who are aggressively ignoring the issue. Maybe reading their newspapers? The purpose of Taft’s announcement is the exact opposite of igniting debate. The purpose is to bury the issue until after the elections, if not longer. Taft has given the party platform plank on creationism for candidates who want to duck the issue while simultaneously appealing to the Christian right. “I’m assured that there isn’t any ID in there, but the matter is under legal review. What’s that you say? The reviewer, Jim Petro, is running for governor? What a coincidence. Next question.”

The Dems as usual seem to be in disarray.

The more things change…

“I belong to no organized party. I’m a Democrat.” WILL ROGERS (1879-1935)

For example, Behe’s “irreducible complexity” replaced Henry Morris’ “organized complexity”. (Henry wasn’t happy about that.)

No, it was Dembski’s “specified complexity” that replaced “organized complexity”. Not that it makes much difference, because doesn’t Dembski tell us that specified complexity in biology is expressed as irreducible complexity? Or some such crap. They really do like that word “complexity”. Sounds all scientific-y.

From the link:

Dembski uses the term “specified complexity” as the main criterion for recognizing design. This has essentially the same meaning as “organized complexity,” which is more meaningful and which I have often used myself.

I agree Taft is trying to play both sides against the middle here. He wants to appease Ohio’s creationist voting bloc, which is considerable. He doesn’t want to get into a bunch of expensive lost-cause lawsuits. He’s hoping for some sort of compromise whereby those high school biology teachers who are so inclined can legally say that “a growing number of scientists now reject evolution.”

I think Taft generally suspects that what’s really going to bite him is some explicit lesson plan promoting creationism, that can act as a legal smoking gun. Much better, politically speaking, to let it be known through less formal channels that while teaching creationism in science class won’t be mandated in any way, nobody at the state level (wink wink) will probably notice if teachers do it anyway.

The whole OBOE issue seems to have arisen through a failure of Believers to fully understand the ramifications of the “you gotta deny god to promote god” strategy the DI has been peddling. I think Larry understands that the best tactics here involve not doing anything explicit. There are amply deniable ways to let high school freshmen know that this evolution stuff is all wrong, without putting up a fixed target for a judge to shoot down.

In the Canton Repository: Local schools open door to Intelligent design

Local school officials agree it’s an overstatement to say they teach Intelligent Design in the classroom, but they don’t rule it out as a future possibility.

“We are in the process of looking at the academic content standards of science across the district,” said Marilyn Preas, Marlington Local Schools’ curriculum director. …

The Louisville Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution about four years ago requiring science teachers to look at the pros and cons of evolution, but not necessarily Intelligent Design, said Ron Rodak, a board member at the time.

“We have a primary focus on evolution, but if and when evolution is taught, we look at other theories,” he said. “We were trying to relay to our staff (that) evolution is also just a theory. Our main intent was to treat it from that standpoint — even devout scientists see there are many, many holes in evolution.”

The late Andy Aljancic, a former Louisville board member, St. Thomas Aquinas High School teacher and Louisville city councilman, was the driving force behind the resolution, and worked with groups to give students access to alternative science textbooks, such as “Of Pandas and People,” which counter evolutionary theory. Aljancic also traveled to Columbus to appeal to the state Board of Education to incorporate alternatives to evolution in the state’s academic content standards. …

Does your school talk about Intelligent Design?

Most schools will mention Intelligent Design as a theory or belief if a student asks about it. The Ohio Department of Education says it’s a local decision — the state doesn’t mandate its teaching, nor does it force schools to ignore the topic either. Here’s the breakdown of public school districts in Stark County:

Alliance City No

Canton City Yes

Canton Local Yes

Fairless Local Yes

Jackson Local No

Lake Local Yes

Louisville Local Yes

Marlington Local Yes

Massillon City Yes

Minerva Local Yes

North Canton City Yes

Northwest Local Yes

Osnaburg Local Yes

Plain Local No

Perry Local Yes

Sandy Valley Local Yes

Tuslaw Local Yes

Source: Stark County Schools

I think the standard phrase here is “plausable deniability”. (rolls eyes)

Henry

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/0[…]_roachb.html

This is clearly a case of intelligent design. (wink wink)

Taft is not and can’t be up for re-election. His party overwhelmingly controls the legislature and state court. He has no threshold for embarassment. So why did he bail? Sure couldn’t be an attack of common sense.

How much did it cost Dover? I thought they got free legal representation.

It should be noted, however, that most of these religious right ideologues couldn’t care less if their public school systems went bankrupt because of repeated legal entanglements. In fact, they probably would be just as happy - failing, underfunded public schools mean more kids available for private “education” where curricula can be tailored to any prevailing ideological preference, regardless of the pedagogical value or even veracity of content.

Until, that is, these same kids apply for college and find that institutes of higher learning don’t have to give credit for courses that aren’t up to snuff.

AD Wrote:

Having said that, Ohio is going to set itself up to be a laughingstock one way or another. The real impact, however, I do not think will be apparent at first. Universities in Ohio will have trouble recruiting strong students, and students from schools there will be taken less seriously by other states who know they are teaching crap.

I can’t name names, but I already know some admissions personnel at an east coast college who sort of chuckle about applicants from certain places because of this sort of thing. It only really hurts the students.

Actually it’s not just students that these silly states will have trouble recruiting. The largest University programs in my field are in Kansas and Ohio. I am changing my focus in order to be able to find work teaching at universities in states OTHER than K/O. So not only students, but teachers will avoid states who delve into IDiocy.

Brad asked

How much did it cost Dover? I thought they got free legal representation.

And it was worth every penny.

However, the Dover district is also on the hook for the plaintiffs’ legal expenses – the judge awarded the plaintiffs damages ($1, IIRC) plus costs. The last estimate of costs I saw was on the order of $1 million. So that’s what the Dover district will owe. And their insurer informed them before the trial that there would be no coverage, because the Dover board ignored its own lawyer’s advice in instituting the unconstitutional policy.

RBH

Re “Sure couldn’t be an attack of common sense.”

Beware common sense! It could attack when one least expects it! Or maybe not.

(Okay, I’m shutting up now.)

Althea Wrote:

Actually it’s not just students that these silly states will have trouble recruiting. The largest University programs in my field are in Kansas and Ohio. I am changing my focus in order to be able to find work teaching at universities in states OTHER than K/O. So not only students, but teachers will avoid states who delve into IDiocy.

I left Ohio last year (I’m a college chemistry teacher) and moved to Pennsylvania. No way any of my kids were going to Ohio schools.

And their insurer informed them before the trial that there would be no coverage, because the Dover board ignored its own lawyer’s advice in instituting the unconstitutional policy.

Seriously, I wonder if they expected to win anyway. Maybe they felt they couldn’t lose with god on their side? You really have to wonder…

Dave S wrote

No, it was Dembski’s “specified complexity” that replaced “organized complexity”. Not that it makes much difference, because doesn’t Dembski tell us that specified complexity in biology is expressed as irreducible complexity

Quite right. According to Dembski, specified complexity is a special case of irreducible complexity, and it was the former Morris identified as a version of his “organized complexity”. Given the (fuzzy) definition of Morris’ “organized complexity”, though, it is closer to what Behe apparently means when he uses “irreducible complexity”. (BTW, be aware that in Dembski’s usage, “complexity”” means just “improbability”. No more.)

RBH

Raging Bee Wrote:

[Larry]You don’t have to believe evolution theory in order to use it.

And you don’t have to believe the Earth is round in order to fly a space shuttle around the Earth and land it safely in one piece, right?

Actually, I think that’s a large part of the problem. To make it happen, somebody at some point has to believe it (and back up the belief with some pretty precise measurements/calculations), but henceforth anyone trained to go through the proper motions could conceivably make the flight while believing anything.

I can just see the pilot of Shuttle Larry now: “This simulation sure is realistic, and so useful!”

He mutated into Andy H and John B.

What is he trying achieve? So he can have an Andy praising a Larry and vice versa?? He really needs to get a life.

What is he trying achieve?

Who knows? Who cares? He’s just a crank. (shrug)

what party do u belong

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 3, 2006 12:05 AM.

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