Updates on the Ohio 12th Grade Proficiencies
March 16, 2000 Update
THIS INFORMATION IS OUTDATED. IT'S FROM THE YEAR 2000, AND IS KEPT ON OUR WEB SITE FOR HISTORICAL PURPOSES ONLY. FOR THE MOST UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION CONCERNING OHIO EDUCATION, SEE Updates on the 2002 proposed Ohio Science Academic Content Standards.
On March 7, 2000, the Revised 12th Grade Proficiency test competencies were approved by the Ohio Board of Education (OBE) with only slight changes to the original wording, and one new addition.
The Bad News
In addition to ignoring virtually all of our proposed rewording for the original competencies, the OBE made matters worse by adding the following blatantly pro-evolutionary language to the 12th grade competencies. Public input was allowed on all of the other competencies, but not this one. Here's what it says:
Demonstrate an understanding of energy in the Earth system, geochemical cycles, origin and evolution of the Earth system and origin and evolution of the universe.
This wording is far more blatantly pro-evolutionary than any of the wording we saw before, and we certainly would have mounted a vigorous challenge to it if we had known about it in advance. Because it actually uses the word "evolution" twice, we suspect that it would have pushed many more people to show up to speak against it than what actually appeared that day. We believe that this wording should be eliminated from the competencies during the board's next meeting because of the lack of public input.
The bottom line is this. The competencies, as approved, now contain blatantly pro-evolutionary language and make no provisions for eliminating the censoring of opposing scientific evidence. The final wording also did not address the religious objections that many persons of faith have concerning their children being held as a captive audience to those who want to force-feed them the philosophy (some would say religion) of naturalism disguised as science.
I also saw a member of a local pro-evolutionism group get invited into a private conversation with one of the board members. Since this group has been allowed to participate in critiquing the wording before, we wonder if they weren't also invited to do it again. To our knowledge, no group with opposing scientific views also received such an invitation (if such an invitation was actually extended).
The Good News
While on the surface this sounds like we lost and lost big, I don't believe that will necessarily be the case in the long run. I am actually rather upbeat and optimistic about what happened at the OBE meeting. School boards in general tend to be far outside the mainstream on this issue. Consider this summary paragraph from 50 studies on creationism/evolutionism:
Fifty studies were reviewed that surveyed opinions on teaching origins in public schools. The vast majority found about 90 % of the public desired that both creation and evolution or creation only be taught in the public schools. About 90 % of Americans consider themselves creationists of some form, and about half believe that God created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years. In America, about 15 % of high school teachers teach both evolution and creation, and close to 20% of high school science teachers and about 10,000 scientists (including more than 4,000 life scientists) reject both macroevolution and theistic evolution. Although the vast majority of Americans desire both creation and evolution taught in school, the evolutionary naturalism worldview dominates, revealing a major disparity between the population and the ruling Úlite.
Because school boards in general tend to have a callous disregard toward anyone except those with a philosophical bias of naturalism (concerning this issue), we expected to be treated with great rudeness and disrespect. We expected that we'd have virtually no support whatsoever from anyone on the board who was in attendance for any of our arguments. Much to our surprise, we were treated with respect and dignity. And we all came away from the meeting feeling as if many of the board members had genuinely listened to our comments with a reasonably open mind (even those who ultimately voted against us). We were stunned, to put it mildly, at the turn of events surrounding the vote to have creationism taught along side of evolutionism. First, some background on this.
School boards can take four approaches when dealing with testing and the scientific controversy over the issue of origins and development of species.
Four of the five people who spoke from our group agreed ahead of time that we were going to recommend the second option (insist on a level playing field), and leave theism completely out of our recommendations. The fifth person joined our group late in the game and wasn't fully aware of this (my fault for not making this more clear to him).
He recommended in his testimony that the board consider choosing option 3 (teach creation and evolution side by side). We all have option 3 as a long-term goal. But almost everyone in our group who was there (and those who weren't) are in strong support of only asking for option 2 at this time. What really shocked us was the board's reaction to the suggestion that creation science be taught side-by-side with evolution. We expected a vote of 14 to 0 against it. Instead, 5 members voted in favor of it. This option was far more than what we as a group had asked for, and we couldn't believe how much support it received.
We wonder what would have happened if someone on the board would have proposed the amended wording that we suggested above (No evidence or analysis of evidence that contradicts a current science theory will be censored). Could we have won that one? It is unfortunate that nobody on the board thought to do that, but that's OK. This is not the end of the road, and this fight is far from over as far as we are concerned. We were encouraged that the board told us there would definitely be other opportunities for us to express our concerns and we are grateful to them for that.
As I mentioned earlier, many of the board members did seem to be listening to us with an open mind. We suspect that one reason that so many of them voted against us was because they may not ever have heard the kind of testimony that was given to them that day by the creationist side. We know for certain that some of the board members have no idea what scientific evidence creation scientists have to offer to refute evolution because they as much as said so to us.
Therefore, we feel it is our responsibility to help educate them. And we can only hope that they will look at what we have to share with them because they want to be sensitive to all of those they represent, not just those with a naturalism bias. We would prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them a chance to prove that they sincerely care about what all their constituents have to say. With that in mind, we gave each of the board members who were still present at the end of the meeting a copy of the book "Refuting Evolution". This book contains compelling scientific evidence to refute evolution on many fronts. It will be interesting to see how many of them actually read it. We suspect that given the warm reception we received from the board, that most of them will read it. We applaud those who will take the time to do so.