Lattimer explains why the ODOE analysis of public
comments about the science standards is skewed
August 22, 2002
TO: Elizabeth Ross.
FROM: Robert Lattimer, Ph.D.
SUBJECT: Public Response to Science Standards.
I am a member of the Science Writing Team. I understand that you may not have seen the enclosed Summary of Responses to Science Standards. This was prepared by the Ohio Department of Education and distributed to the Writing Team at our June 24-26 meeting.
Unfortunately, the compilation in Section III is quite misleading, as I shall explain. It is claimed that 4120 respondents want an "evolution only" standard. However, this figure comes mostly from the results of an on-line "electronic petition" from Ohio Citizens for Science (OCS, www.ohioscience.org), a pro-evolution advocacy group. The OCS website listed 3722 petition signatures as of June 30, 2002. The petition consists of a single statement: "We, the undersigned, urge the Ohio Board of Education NOT to include ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ in the new science standards."
It is unfair and misleading to include the results of this petition in the "evolution only" category, for these reasons:
Based on the above, if the 3722 signatures from the OCS petition are removed from the tally, this leaves only 398 "evolution only" responses (that is, 4120 minus 3722). The total number of people favoring alternatives is 5024 (that is, 182 plus 4842). Overall, then, only 7% of the individual respondents favor the "evolution only" stance taken by the current draft science standards. This is quite consistent with the Cleveland Plain Dealer poll (June 9, 2002), in which only 8% of Ohioans favored an "evolution only" standard.
I believe it is imperative for Gov. Taft to heed the overwhelming desire of Ohioans for a biological origins standard that presents evidence for and against evolution and permits the teaching of alternatives. The Governor should urge the State Board of Education to modify the draft standards to reflect the "teach the controversy" approach.