Professors oppose science curriculum
Published: Monday, January 9, 2006
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
Ohio State science professors are expected to lobby the Ohio Board of Education on Tuesday in hopes of eliminating a science curriculum that encourages the teaching of views alternative to evolution, even though a current OSU trustee helped to make the curriculum a reality.
When he served as Gov. Bob Taft's chief of staff, OSU Trustee Brian Hicks lobbied the Ohio Board of Education for the current science curriculum, which encourages the teaching of alternatives to evolution and opens the door to teaching intelligent design in Ohio's classrooms. Hicks' e-mails regarding the board vote were released last month to The Columbus Dispatch.
"I find it very disturbing that a member of the OSU Board of Trustees has pressured the state board of education to adopt an anti-science model curriculum," said Jeffrey K. McKee, an anthropology professor. McKee is among the professors expected to lobby.
In addition to the OSU professors' opposition, a watch-dog group is preparing to file a lawsuit against the state board if it does not change the curriculum.
On Friday, Hicks said his lobbying in favor of intelligent design has no impact on his responsibilities as a member of the Board of Trustees.
"This is a 3-year-old argument that I'm not going to get into now … I was in a different job carrying out a different policy," he said.
Hicks declined to give his position on intelligent design or the state board's science curriculum, unless the same questions were presented to every member of the Board of Trustees.
The OSU Senate, Faculty Council, and the Inter-University Council of Ohio, where OSU President Karen A. Holbrook represents OSU, have passed resolutions opposing the state board's science standards and curriculum.
Ohio Citizens for Science, a group also opposing the science curriculum and standards, plans on barnstorming the state board at their meeting Tuesday, McKee said. McKee, along with Steve Rissing, a professor of evolution, ecology, and organismal biology at OSU, is among the founding directors of the group.
In anticipation of filing a lawsuit against the state board, Americans United for Separation of Church and State is collecting documents from the state under a public records request.
The Washington, D.C.-based group is the organization that joined with the American Civil Liberties Union and Dover, Pa. students' parents to successfully sue the Dover Area School District to remove similar provisions from the Dover science standards and curriculum in December.
Although the Dover decision does not affect Ohio, Dover and Ohio's lesson plans and history are more similar than dissimilar, said Richard Katskee, Americans United assistant legal counsel.
A federal court has ruled that intelligent design cannot be taught in a science class.
"The teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution is unconstitutional," said Judge John Jones III, a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush.
"We have been presented with a wealth of evidence which reveals that the district's purpose was to advance creationism, an inherently religious view, both by introducing it directly under the label ID and by disparaging the scientific theory of evolution, so that creationism would gain credence by default as the only apparent alternative to evolution," Jones said.
A decision to file suit will be made as soon as the group receives all the material it has requested from the state, said Joe Conn, Americans United spokesman.
"We prefer that the state board make its own decision to change the science curriculum after looking at the Dover decision and listening to the citizens coming from around the state to address the board on this issue," Conn said.