Call for Action in Ohio

Just Scheduled: Public Info Sessions

Ohio Citizens for Science will host two public information sessions Sunday and Monday evenings on Ohio’s creationist lesson plan and the history and impact of this insult to science and religion. Details here.

Things are heating up in Ohio post-_Kitzmiller_. The ID troops are spinning Kitzmiller as the aberration of an activist judge (a conservative Republican) who vastly over-stepped the acceptable boundaries of judicial behavior. Tim Sandefur eviscerated that argument here on the Thumb and on Positive Liberty.

Ohio Citizens for Science is issuing a call for action this weekend. We ask people – both in Ohio and elsewhere – to write/email/phone to urge the restoration of good science in Ohio’s schools. In particular, we urge contacting Jim Petro, current state Attorney General who is running for Governor. Let Petro know that it’s time for leadership, not political pandering. The main points to stress are below the fold in the recommended message. Both in-state and out of state people are encouraged to contact Petro. Please also contact members of the State Board of Education with your support for honest science education.

Ohio’s board of education will meet next Tuesday, Jan 10, in Columbus to decide whether to comply with the recent federal court ruling against intelligent-design creationism and its disingenuous “teach the controversy” ploy.

Please write or CALL TODAY to State Board members (as many as you can) and Attorney General Jim Petro.

Board Members’ email addresses are here. Contact them all!

Petro Campaign contact info (we recommend that you contact his campaign; this is a political issue):

Contact via his campaign web site or email him at email(AT) or call the campaign at 1-877-JIM-2006.

Background and more info below the fold.

Suggested Message to Petro: Amend to taste

Dear Mr. Petro,

Please protect Ohio from the creationist folly of the Board of Education!

Ohio can afford neither the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars nor the national ridicule a Monkey Trial would bring upon our state.

Please counsel the Board to remove Ohio’s creationist benchmark and lesson plan immediately and restore the Ohio Academy of Science’s full definition of science.

Counsel the board to act immediately at their meeting next week. Advise them to avoid time-wasting charades that would produce more embarrassment in the long run. They have the facts; they need to act now.

The Ohio case is very clear. As in Dover, both the Board and the public recognized the issue at stake as inherently religious. Like Dover, evolutionary theory was singled out for special and unjustified criticism. As in Dover, the claims for a scientific basis for objecting to evolution were all drawn directly from scientifically-discredited creationist literature. And as in Dover, the board ignored the best advice of its own science experts as well as outside experts.

Of course, the creationists on the board claim there is no religious intent or content. But that’s what the defendants have said in all these creationist cases from Epperson to Edwards to Freiler to Dover. But when they go to court, the state loses every time.

As Judge John E Jones III said in the Dover decision:

“The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.”

Ohio needs your leadership at this crucial juncture. The board is nearly deadlocked with a few members still deciding. Leadership from the Attorney General on this important legal issue would make all the difference in the world.

Please protect our freedom of religion, protect our children’s understanding of science, and protect the integrity and reputation of the state of Ohio.

Stand up for Ohio, Mr. Petro!

Some Background

ID proponents in Ohio are in deep denial mode. Deborah Owens Fink, one of the primary ID proponents on the State BOE, was quoted in the Akron Beacon Journal as saying

“I really think it has no impact,” Deborah Owens Fink of Akron said of the Pennsylvania decision.

Jones’ opinion does seem to address language like Ohio’s.

“ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class,” he wrote. “This tactic is at best disingenuous and at worst a canard.”

In light of that, Owens Fink stressed the ruling’s limits.

“The decision only applies to Dover,” she said. “Our students should critically analyze evolution, as they should all scientific theories.”

She acknowledges, though, that evolution is the only theory specifically designated for scrutiny here. That’s because of the “dogmatism with which evolution is taught,” she explained, as opposed to the laws of gravity, for instance.

Sure thing. Nothing dogmatic about teaching the laws of gravity – shoot, it might well be Intelligent Falling Theory (see also here). And of course physicists readily accept that some intelligent agent could be acting to push stuff down. Sure thing.

Owens Fink started the Ohio ID push by offering a “two model” motion in 2000 – teach both ID and evolutionary theory, the motion said. It was defeated, leading to the involvement of the Disco Institute and ultimately to the weakening of the science standards and the creationist-based model lesson plan. (Recall that the Disco Institute contacted the Dover BOE when members of that Board started muttering about “50/50” teaching of evolution and creationism. The DI proved to be a weak reed in that instance, as I suspect it will be in Ohio.)

We are told that Sue Westendorf, the current President of the Ohio BOE and an ID supporter, is telling people that she doesn’t care if the Board is sued over the issue. That is incredible hubris given the track record of ID creationist failures in the federal courts. She simply doesn’t give a damn how much Ohio tax money is wasted on pseudo-science.

Now it is time to press the Board to cease being the tool of a sectarian socio-political movement and to take responsibility for honest science education in Ohio.