The Albatross is preventing me from digging deeper into this story, but a report at i09 describes a pendingbill in the Ohio legislature that mandates teaching science in a way that favors creationism. It’s the “teach-both-sides” issue, but is couched in careful and weaselly language. Here’s the relevant part of Bill 597:
(iii) The standards in science shall be based in core existing disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics; incorporate grade-level mathematics and be referenced to the mathematics standards; focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another.
Notice two things: the concentration on science as “knowledge” rather than a “process” (teaching the latter is in fact critically important), and the prohibition of “political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another.” What on earth does that mean? Well, you can guess. It means that you can teach all interpretations. If you teach a naturalistic explanation of evolution (which these yahoos probably see as “political” or “religious”), you must also teach the Biblical interpretation. That’s not just a guess. As i09 reports:
One of the bill’s sponsors, State Rep. Andy Thompson (R-District 95) told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that this clause [above] prevents teachers and schools from only presenting one side of a political and scientific debate without also presenting the other side. In practice, he says, that means school districts and teachers would have the freedom to introduce religious interpretations of scientific issues into classrooms — with creationism taught alongside evolution, as well as varying views on the actual age of the Earth and whether humans and dinosaurs co-existed. Likewise, the arguments put forth by climate-change deniers could be included in science lesson plans.
Thompson also shows why he wants science taught as a body of facts rather than a process:
“It gives some flexibility to districts to pursue what they think is most appropriate to their students,” Thompson said. “We want to have the ability to share perspectives that differ. Teaching one thing to the exclusion of anything else limits the discussion.”
Thompson said faith involves belief even when evidence cannot prove something…and that all scientific beliefs are open to challenge. He pointed to ancient beliefs that the sun orbited the earth – a belief widely accepted, but which was eventually challenged and disproven.
“In science, the debate is ongoing,” he said.
By requiring multiple sides to be presented, he said the bill will take the “pure politicization” of any issue out of classrooms.
Here he floats the old canard that science, like religion, is based on faith. And the facts of science are—OMG—changeable! Somehow that’s seen as a vice, while unchangeable religious dictums are considered virtues. I won’t get into that, and I’ve explained previously why “faith” in the religious sense simply plays no role in science (scientists have “confidence” in results in proportion to their supporting evidence, not “faith,” which in religion is belief without evidence sufficient to convince all rational people.)
And which debate is ongoing, by the way? Not the debate between evolution and creationism, for that was settled over a century ago. And we knew about the heliocentric solar system in the 16th century.
While I’m most exercised about this attempt to lie about science to kids, or misrepresent the field (Ohio readers: write your legislators!), there was one other part of the bill that has now been excised. Its presence, however, gives a clue to the political sentiments of the bill’s creators:
The legislation also created a stir because its changes to Ohio education standards required that “at least 80% of literary works taught in grades eight through twelve be complete works of classic British and American authors published prior to 1970.” That would nearly eliminate all modern authors and most foreign ones, which, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, would include:
“Greek works by authors like Aristotle, Sophocles and Plato or tales like The Iliad and The Odyssey; Crime and Punishment or anything else by Fyodor Dostoevsky or fellow Russian Leo Tolstoy; Dante’s Divine Comedy; Machiavelli’s The Prince; and anything from French authors like Victor Hugo or Albert Camus.”
Following the news report, Thompson said that the requirement would be removed from the bill. He attributed its inclusion to a “drafting error.”
Yep, for, as we know, all good literature is by Anglophones. Really, no Dostoevsky, Tolstoy or Dante? At least these Ohio mushbrain legislators had the sense to deep-six that stuff, which would have made them a laughingstock. Now let’s hope that the revised bill gets defeated, for it’s simply a variation of the “teach-the-controversy” bills that have repeatedly either failed to pass in other states or which have been declared unconstitutional by courts.