Some on Ohio Board of Education don’t see concern about ID lesson plan

With the next Ohio State Board of Education (OBE) meeting just days away, opposition to a lesson plan adopted in 2004 heats up.

The lesson plan called for a “critical analysis of evolution” and the standards used to base the plan on contained a disclaimer that the standards do not “mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.” New evidence found by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has found a religious intent in the development of the lesson plan and standards and an effort to hide that intent through word usage and secret behind-the-scenes manipulation of the Board.

A rally to support the removal of the lesson plan is going to held tonight at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, and at 7 p.m. Monday at the Embassy Suites Hotel at E. Dublin-Granville Road and Corporate Exchange Drive in Columbus. The hotel is where the OBE stays before its meeting at the Ohio School for the Deaf on Tuesday.

However some on the Board don’t see the big deal:

Board President Sue Westendorf, of Bowling Green, said members can bring up the issue but it’s not on the board’s agenda and she thinks there are more pressing concerns.

Plans for the board to be briefed on the Dover decision in executive session were scrapped after state attorneys advised Westendorf that because the state doesn’t face pending or imminent litigation, there are no legal grounds for a secret meeting.

“I’m not sure this is something that needs to be addressed,” Westendorf said.

Eric C. Okerson, a board member from Cincinnati, agrees.

“There are people committed to both sides of this issue. (The standards and lesson plan) were clearly a compromise, and I don’t think a particularly offensive one.”

Okerson said he doesn’t think Ohio’s standards contain the same flaws as Dover’s.

“Ours is pretty innocuous . . . it does not mandate the teaching and testing of intelligent design,” Okerson said. “The injustice is that it invites critical analysis of evolution, but it’s not as egregious in my mind as i think the record in the (Dover) case.”

Intelligent-design war evolves Columbus Dispatch 01/08/2006 pg. D1

Americans United want to give the OBE a reason to meet with their attorneys:

Americans United attorneys are reviewing documents obtained from the Ohio Department of Education that Conn said show Ohio’s board, like Dover’s, appeared intent on advancing religion in the classroom.

“It’s premature for us to file a lawsuit. We’ve only gotten part of what we’ve asked for, but we see much of the same pattern of introducing religion through a backdoor means.”

Critics say documents obtained from the Education Department show promoting intelligent design was the board’s intent. The early drafts and reviews by department staffers and others reveal much debate about the validity of the standards and show many concerns were ignored.

One unnamed adviser who disagreed with the standards wrote: “Not the real scientific world. The real religious world, yes! The real world based on faith, yes! The real world of fringe thinking, yes.”

Another department staffer wrote that information in the standards was wrong and misleading.

“The documents demonstrate this board had a religious intent and that board members who said they had no idea this was bad science lied. They had access to these reports and certainly had an opportunity to know,” said Patricia Princehouse, an evolutionary biologist from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Time, lawyers, and courts will tell.

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