The Ohio BOE "Achievement" Committee Skates (again!)

UPDATE MP3 of the Board Debate on Ohio Citizens for Science.

Promoted from the comments:

Though the Achievement Committee skated, dipped and twirled, the full Board finally took it out of the Committee’s hands. This is promoted from the comments.

At today’s board meeting, under new business:

Motion by Martha Wise, second by Rob Hovis.

RESOLVED, That the Achievement Committee of the State Board of Education, having recommended no response to Board Resolution 31 referred to it in February 2006, is hereby discharged from further consideration of Resolution 31 and anything arising therefrom, including the template for teaching controversial issues.

As new business the resolution would normally have to wait 30 days before it could be considered by the board. There was a motion to consider the resolution immediately, as an emergency measure. That passed 13-4.

The motion itself passed 14-3. Cochran, Ross and Westendorf voted No. Owens-Fink and Baker were absent.

This kills Resolution 31 and the template. It effectively answers the question whether anything should replace the deleted lesson plan, benchmark and indicator with a resounding NO.

The remainder of my original post is below the fold, but it’s moot now. The Disco Institute took it in the teeth yet again. As one of our people remarked leaving the meeting, “This is the first time in years that the Disco Institute doesn’t have its hooks in the Ohio State BOE.”

In February of this year the Ohio State Board discarded the ID creationist “critical analysis of evolution” lesson plan and benchmark. The motion to discard charged the Achievement Committee of the Board to (1) determine whether replacement was desirable, and (2) if so, propose a replacement.

Since then, the Achievement Committee under the “leadership” of co-chairs Father Michael Cochran and Jim Craig has dithered, stalled, and put off debate and action. In particular, the committee has not yet even got around to considering the first part if its charge, to determine whether replacement language is necessary. Yet now there’s a “Framework for Teaching Controversial Issues” floating around the Board. In its original incarnation, that “Framework” named specific issues – stem cell research, cloning, global warming, and (of course!) evolution. In its current form it’s been scrubbed to eliminate mention of specific issues.

Now the Canton Repository is reporting that the Committee has skated yet again. Until last week, the Committee’s agenda said that Resolution 31 (the resolution passed in February) was to be discussed. But late last week that item was excised from the agenda, and at yesterday’s meeting of the Committee it was not discussed. In spite of Committee Member Eric Okerson’s attempt to bring it up, the Committee adjourned without considering the charge the Board gave it. Some “Achievement” Committee.

According to the Repository story, the failure of the Committee to act yesterday constituted a betrayal on the part of Jim Craig, co-chair of the Committee. Two weeks ago Craig and Colleen Grady (proposer of the “Framework”) assured the Ohio Academy of Science that the critical analysis effort would be killed. Craig said the same thing to the Columbus Dispatch on Friday: “It’s dead.”

However, Craig’s co-chair and one of the creationist thought leaders on the Board, Father Cochran, disagrees. According to people who attended the Committee meeting, Cochran remarked that discussion would continue next month or the month after. So much for “dead”. Perhaps Father Cochran, in his capacity as rector of a breakaway Episcopal parish, raises the dead in his spare time.

For a month the defenders of science held their fire in Ohio, their forebearance based on Craig’s assurances that the issue would be killed in this Achievement Committee meeting. In spite of Craig’s assurances to the Ohio Academy of Science, that didn’t happen, so there’s no longer any reason for us to hold back.

Interestingly, the Disco Institute weighed in just last Friday in a podcast by John West. West’s podcast is full of platitudes and snide remarks about Darwinists’ “shrill rhetoric” and “hypocrisy and paranoia”. But we remember the history of this effort in Ohio. We remember that in 2000, Deborah Owens Fink, who first mentioned global warming in this context at a board meeting, offered a “two models” motion to the board – teach both intelligent design and evolution. We remember that in 2002 Stephen Meyer and Jonathan Wells of the Disco Institute, invited to speak to the board about why the Board should require teaching intelligent design, switched horses at the last moment and offered the critical analysis of evolution “compromise”. Accepted in its essence by the Board, that “compromise” directly enabled the insertion of Wellsian trash into the biology model curriculum. That’s what was discarded in February of this year after three years of controversy.

Now we have this “Framework” riding the same tired Trojan Horse into the Board. Meanwhile, school funding in Ohio is in disarray, achievement is hurting, and teachers are more and more demoralized. But the Board is once again preoccupied with ID creationist garbage pushed by socio-religico culture warriors to whom science is just another vehicle for political games. Do Cochran, Owens Fink, Craig, Grady, and West think we don’t remember the history of this in Ohio? Or do they expect us to rewrite it, as ID rewrites its history ad libitum?

I’ll have an update if anything substantial happens in the full Board meeting today.