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FW: Montana Creationism Bill Tabled

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:steven.edinger.1@ohio.edu] Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2001 10:07 PM To: Science Education Cc: Elfner, Lynn; Hummon,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2001
      FW: Montana Creationism Bill Tabled

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:steven.edinger.1@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2001 10:07 PM
      To: Science Education
      Cc: Elfner, Lynn; Hummon, William ; Johnson, Leah; Mckenzie, Clarice;
      McKenzie, Karen; McKenzie, Tom; McKenzie, Warren; Weis, Judy
      Subject: Montana Creationism Bill Tabled


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      Dear Colleagues,

              Some good news (at least for now) from Montana (thank you to Judith Weis
      for passing it on). 2001 is starting out as a tough year for creationism. Lets
      hope it stays that way.

              In Ohio, the word I have received from a member of the Joint Committee
      of the Ohio Board of Regents and State School Board is that the science
      portions of the K-16 standards are unlikely to come up in front of the
      committee this year (unlikely, but you never know).  At this point the joint
      committee is having difficulty agreeing on and setting standards for math and
      English language skills, both areas that would seem pretty uncontroversial.
      Although that seems pretty stunning at first glance it is important to remember
      that there is:  Opposition to the standards because they are seen as an
      intrusion on local control; opposition by those who feel standards are
      inappropriate; opposition by factions who just plain don't like government and
      are happy to obstruct anything the government does; and opposition by some
      because some student in the 12th grade have trouble passing tests on 9th grade
      standards.  This forum is not the place to debate the merits or demerits of
      state education standards, but I thought you may be interested in some of the
      why and where the opposition comes from.

      Best wishes,

      Steve Edinger


      Subject: Montana Creationism Bill

      Creationism bill fails ( from "The Missoulian", 20 February 2001)

      By KATHLEEN McLAUGHLIN Missoulian State Bureau

      HELENA - Religious creation theories about human origins have no place in
      public schools, a House committee decided late Monday.

      By a 14-4 vote, the House State Administration Committeee tabled House Bill
      588 by Rep. Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman. The bill would have directed the
      Montana Board of Public Education - which sets curricula for public schools
      - to adopt creationism and evolution teaching materials approved by a
      six-member volunteer board appointed by the governor. The measure called
      for "objectivity in science education."

      Supporters argued that evolution is not the only explanation or best
      explanation for the existence of humankind. But opponents of the proposal
      said it's ridiculous and probably unconstitutional in several ways. Forcing
      teachers to spend class time on theories other than accepted scientific
      practice is a ludicrous step backward for Montana, they told the committee.
      Balyeat and others argued that by setting statewide science curriculum, the
      Legislature would ensure that children are exposed to all theories of human
      existence.

      "Our children would best be served by opening their minds to all competing
      theories of origin," Balyeat said.

      Opponents of HB588, however, said there's really no competition among
      scientific theories. What's at work in this bill, they said, is a plan to
      work religious teachings into public schools. Evolution is the widely held
      explanation for human existence, they said, and mandating religious and
      other explanations be taught in public schools is blatantly unconstitutional.
      "I find it amazing that this is a debate," said Joe Lamson, spokesman for
      the state Office of Public Instruction. "We don't put nonscientific things
      in the science class."

      Dave Baker, a geologist from Monarch, said he also was flabbergasted that
      the Legislature would consider forcing out sound science in schools.

      "In the scientific community, there is no debate" over evolution vs.
      creation, he said.

      Supporters of the measure argued that plenty of questions remain and
      schoolchildren should not suffer learning the range of ideas and theories.

      "I believe we need to allow the open debate in our public schools," said
      Ellen Fishbaugh of Helena. "All the competing ideas of the past should come
      in on equal footing."

      Others argued for mind-broadening debate in the classroom. "This is not a
      religious issue. Instead, it is a plea for accuracy in the scientific process,"
      said Tom Schneider, a former teacher. "Let us approach the origins of life as
      scientists, not as politicians."

      HB588 opponent Scott Crichton, executive director of the American Civil
      Liberties Union of Montana, said he found the supporters' arguments ironic,
      as creative thought and acceptance of diversity often are so dissuaded by
      the same groups. "I'm a bit taken aback that we're hearing praise of critical
      thinking," Crichton said.





      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Steven A. Edinger, Physiology Lab Instructor

      064 Irvine Hall
      Department of Biological Sciences               steven.edinger.1@...
      Ohio University                                 Office:  (740) 593-9484
      Athens, Ohio  45701-2979                        Fax:  (740) 593-0300
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      ******************************************************
      "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
      evolution."  Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973
      ******************************************************




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      ******************************************************
      "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
      evolution."  Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973
      ******************************************************

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