Tuesday, February 14, 2006

ID out in Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch (AP wire):
The state school board voted this afternoon to eliminate a lesson plan and science standards that critics said opened the door to teaching intelligent design, a form of creationism.

The Ohio Board of Education voted 11-4 to delete material encouraging students to seek evidence for and against certain elements of evolutionary science.

The board also directed a committee to study whether a replacement lesson was needed.
How to go from F- to B really fast. The Ohio Citizens for Science don't have permalinks on their news page, so just scroll down to see the source. The Fordham Foundation reviewed all the states' science standards and gave Ohio a B (Kansas got a C for its 2001 standards and an F- for the newly approved standards).

The authors of the study looked at the lesson plan which wasn't part of their original review, and issued this statement. The second paragraph is particularly worth reading:
In the recent report, “The State of State Science Standards” (Washington, DC: Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 2005)… we issued a grade of “B” for the Ohio standards. This was in recognition of documents unnecessarily long and with some errors, but dedicated, on the whole, to good and sufficient science content. …

The standards we reviewed present evolutionary biology well enough, and start it early enough, although the treatment is rather thin in relevant molecular genetics. In one benchmark, there is a mention of “critical analysis” of “aspects of evolutionary theory.” We gave Ohio the benefit of the doubt that such ordinarily innocuous words might raise in the current political climate. After all, modern evolutionary biology includes, in fact comprises, “critical analysis of evolutionary theory,” just as modern physics includes critical analysis of relativity and quantum theory. Serious science is a continuous critical analysis.

But the benefit of doubt we gave the benchmark may have been a mistake. Creationism-inspired “critical analysis” of evolutionary biology - as has been shown over and over again in the scientific literature, and recently in a Pennsylvania Federal Court - is neither serious criticism nor serious analysis. The newest version of creationism, so-called Intelligent Design (ID) theory, is no exception. Like its predecessors, it is neither critical nor analytic, nor has it made any contribution to the literature of science. Any suggestion that our “B” grade for Ohio’s standards endorses sham critiques of evolution, as offered by creationists, is false.

To the extent that model lessons are to be provided in Ohio as curricular guidance, lessons that refer favorably to, or incorporate, sham critiques of evolution, or bad science, or pseudo-science, the standards we reviewed are contradicted. That part of the state’s science education will be a failure. Moreover it will reflect badly on the entire standards undertaking, not just on biology and evolution. To devote scores of pages in the official standards to the principles of good science, and then to teach bad or pseudo-science in the classroom, is to defeat the very purpose of standards. If creationism-driven arguments become an authorized extension of Ohio’s K-12 science standards, then the standards will deserve a failing grade.
Now it's Kansas' turn to fix its mistakes.