Case Western steps up, rejects House Bill 597

As I noted a few weeks ago (see here and here), Ohio House Bill 579 cuts the guts out of science education in the public schools by emphasizing “scientific knowledge” and eliminating the teaching of “science processes”. As I argued, the process of science is central to how one justifies claims about the world in science, and eliminating reference to those processes eviscerates science education.

The Faculty Senate of Case Western Reserve University agrees. It has adopted a resolution that speaks directly to that issue. The resolution is below the fold.

The resolution reads:

Whereas science is a basis of our modern technological society and economy;


Whereas a scientifically educated citizenry is critical to the future of this State of Ohio and of these United States of America;


Whereas scientific thinking and scientific processes are at the core of science;


Whereas those scientific processes revolve around the testing of scientific theories through the comparison of their predictions with data, leading to the rejection or modification of those theories or to increased confidence in and consensus on their correctness; and scientific theories, such as Relativity, or Evolution, or Anthropogenic Climate Change, that have achieved a high level of confidence and consensus among scientists generally continue to be called theories, in contrast with common usage, and in acknowledgement that they may one day confront contradictory data requiring their rejection, modification or extension;


Whereas theories that cannot be subjected to this process of prediction and comparison with data are generally regarded by scientists as unscientific;


Whereas neither political nor religious arguments may therefore enter into the scientific formulation or evaluation of scientific theories;


Whereas science education that omits the teaching of scientific thinking and scientific processes in favor exclusively of scientific facts, or that encourages or allows the misrepresentation of unscientific theories as scientific alternatives, fails to prepare students for higher education in science, for informed engagement in our society, or for active participation in many aspects of the current and future economy;


Whereas the bill has been represented by some proponents as allowing school districts to incorporate non-scientific perspectives, including faith-based perspectives, into the teaching of scientific subjects;


Whereas the Common Core State Standards Initiative academic content standards, previously adopted by the Ohio State Board of Education, and the Next Generation Science Standards, for which Ohio served as a Lead State Partner, were developed through an evidence-based bipartisan multi-state process developed and led by the nation’s governors and education commissioners through their representatives;


Whereas the state board of education exercises under the acts of the general assembly general supervision of the system of public education in the State of Ohio and should therefore be required and expected to ensure that that system’s students are provided with the highest possible quality of education, including science education;

Therefore be it resolved that the Faculty Senate of Case Western Reserve University

a) Strongly opposes the provisions of Ohio House Bill 597 repealing and replacing the Common Core State Standards Initiative academic content standards with standards legislated by fiat or developed through any process that fails to meet the same high standards as the Common Core;

b) Rejects explicitly the bill’s premise that students should “focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes;”

c) Rejects the notion that non-scientific perspectives, such as faith-based theories, have a place in the teaching of science;

d) Calls on the Ohio House, Senate and Governor to reject the proposed bill;

e) Calls on the Ohio House, Senate and Governor to maintain and strengthen our commitment to prepare Ohio students to be scientifically literate citizens equipped with knowledge and skills for the 21st century workforce and higher education.

Nicely done, Case! And many thanks to Patricia Princehouse for riding herd on the resolution. Kudos also to Glenn Starkman, Director of the Institute for the Science of Origins at Case. Other institutions–I’m looking at you, Ohio State–are welcome to to adopt or adapt the language as they deem appropriate. House Bill 597 is a direct threat to the teaching of science in the public schools of Ohio, and deserves the trash can.