La. Schools Reject Evolution Disclaimer
And Ohio Okays

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Creationist Cults

La. Schools Reject Evolution Disclaimer

The Associated Press
Thursday, December 12, 2002; 3:47 PM

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana's state school board rejected a proposal Thursday to place a disclaimer in high school biology textbooks that would state that evolution is only a theory.

Only Alabama has such a statewide disclaimer, but school districts elsewhere have issued their own. One suburban Atlanta school district, Cobb County, was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union in August over similar disclaimers it placed in thousands of textbooks.

The Louisiana board rejected the disclaimers on a 7-3 vote.

"I am not prepared to go back to the Dark Ages," board President Paul Pastorek said Tuesday after a board committee approved the disclaimer. "I don't think state boards should dictate editorial content of school textbooks."

The disclaimer would have stated that the theory of evolution "still leaves many unanswered questions about the origin of life."

It also would have told students: "Study hard and keep an open mind. Someday you may contribute to the theories of how living things appeared on earth."

) 2002 The Associated Press


Ohio School Board OKs Science Standards

By Liz Sidoti
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, December 10, 2002; 9:48 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The state school board unanimously approved science standards Tuesday that more strongly advocate the teaching of evolution while allowing students to fully critique the theory's legitimacy.

The standards do not require the teaching or testing of the alternate concept of "intelligent design," which holds that the universe is guided by a higher intelligence. The vote was 18-0, with one member absent. In October, the board indicated it would adopt the new standards.

The board has struggled since January to write the science curriculum guidelines, which teachers will be encouraged - but not required - to follow because they will be the basis of new exams that students must pass to graduate.

Under the new standards, evolution will be the only origin-of-life theory covered on the tests, meaning schools that avoid teaching Charles Darwin's theory that life evolved by natural processes would risk putting their students at a disadvantage.

Local school districts can still decide to teach intelligent design - the idea that life must have been designed by a non-specified higher power because it is so complex - or other theories besides evolution. Some already teach other concepts.

The current standards for teaching science to the state's 1.8 million students do not mention the word "evolution." They recommend teaching "change through time" but do not specify what that involves.

Tuesday's vote followed a series of public hearings and a debate between scientists and experts that attracted 1,500 people. The board said it received 20,000 letters and e-mail messages from across the country.

The vote was applauded by people on both sides of the issue.

"Intelligent design is out altogether. Now there's no way it will appear on standardized tests," said Patricia Princehouse, a philosophy professor at Case Western Reserve University and founder of Ohio Citizens for Science, a pro-evolution group.

Critics argue intelligent design is actually creationism, which the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited from public schools as a violation of the separation of church and state. Intelligent design supporters deny that, saying that no designer is specified.

But backers of intelligent design also claimed victory because the standards will still permit teachers to examine the concept. They also say the simple inclusion of the words "intelligent design" in the standards helps legitimize the theory in mainstream society.

"They've mentioned it. They've made a national issue out of it and they've drawn more attention to intelligent design than we could have ever drawn," said Jody Sjogren, co-founder of the national Intelligent Design Network and director of its Ohio office.

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On the Net:

State School Board: http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board

Ohio Citizens for Science: http://ecology.cwru.edu/ohioscience

Science Excellence for All Ohioans: http://www.sciohio.org

) 2002 The Associated Press


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