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FW: [At Dover "Pandas Trial"] Word use still at issue

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:Steven.Edinger.1@Ohio.edu] Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 12:13 PM To: Science Education Subject: [At Dover Pandas Trial ]
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2005
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:Steven.Edinger.1@...]
      Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 12:13 PM
      To: Science Education
      Subject: [At Dover "Pandas Trial"] Word use still at issue

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      Dear Colleagues,

      Near the bottom of this article is a letter from Dover School
      Board member
      Heather Geesey that is worth reading. In the letter, Geesey says you
      can teach
      creationism without it being Christian. She also repeats the myth that
      the
      U.S. was founded as a Christian nation (it is a secular government and a
      nation
      made up of mostly Christians).

      Best wishes,

      Steve Edinger


      >From the York Daily Record at YDR.com

      Word use still at issue
      Testimony on Friday focused on whether Dover board members said
      'creationism.'
      By LAURI LEBO
      Daily Record/Sunday News
      Saturday, October 29, 2005

      HARRISBURG - Heather Geesey used the word creationism.

      "You can teach creationism without its being Christianity," the Dover
      Area
      school board member wrote in a letter to the editor in the June 27,
      2004, York
      Sunday News.

      Even though Geesey chose that word, in reference to efforts that month
      to find
      a new biology textbook, she testified in U.S. Middle District Court on
      Friday
      that her letter wasn't meant to convey the board was considering
      teaching
      creationism.

      Rather, Geesey told the court, board members had been talking about
      intelligent
      design.

      But before Geesey took the stand Friday afternoon, two local newspaper
      reporters recalled several board members using the word creationism at
      two June
      2004 public meetings.

      Whether board members were talking about creationism then is important
      to
      Dover's First Amendment battle. Attorneys for the 11 parents suing the
      district
      over the mention of intelligent design in biology class say board
      members were
      motivated by religion.

      Plaintiffs' attorney Witold Walczak called newspaper accounts of those
      board
      meetings "frankly, the best historical record we have."

      Dover's attorneys called the articles hearsay and said the reporters
      "misrepresented" what took place at the meetings.

      After months of motions and appeals in which newspaper lawyers fought to
      keep
      them off the stand, Heidi Bernhard-Bubb, a freelance reporter for The
      York
      Dispatch, and Joe Maldonado, a freelance reporter for the York Daily
      Record/Sunday News, both testified in the case.

      At their lawyer's request, Judge John E. Jones III limited testimony to
      what
      they saw and heard relative to the stories.

      Under questioning by Walczak, both reporters verified the accuracy of
      articles
      they had written about the meetings. But during the cross-examinations,
      Dover
      attorney Ed White asked them if they had asked people to verify remarks
      before
      quoting them.

      "I don't need to check for accuracy because I heard it," Bernhard-Bubb
      said.

      White also asked them if the people they talked to were under oath.

      Bernhard-Bubb said no. Maldonado said he doesn't ask them "to state the
      truth,
      the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

      White pointed out that in the articles, no board members are actually
      quoted
      saying "creationism," but both reporters said that even though they
      paraphrased
      the remarks, board members used the word.

      Both Maldonado and Bernhard-Bubb also said they had never heard anyone
      mention
      intelligent design at the June meetings.

      Their accounts contradicted those of Geesey and of Buckingham, who had
      testified Thursday. They said board members never mentioned creationism
      -
      even though at the time they had both made statements to the media using
      the
      word.

      Thursday, Buckingham testified he meant to say "intelligent design" on
      camera
      with a Fox 43 television news reporter, but accidentally blurted out the
      word
      "creationism."

      Geesey said she used the word "creationism" in her letter to the
      newspaper in
      response to a previous letter published about the textbook controversy,
      in
      which Beth Eveland wrote, "creationism is religion, plain and simple."

      Geesey testified that she recalled Buckingham and fellow board member
      Alan
      Bonsell discussing intelligent design at the June 2004 meetings. That
      contradicted her sworn deposition, in which she said board members
      hadn't named
      what alternatives should be presented to balance evolutionary theory.

      When Walczak questioned the discrepancy, Geesey said her letter to the
      editor,
      along with Eveland's, had jogged her memory.

      At the end of cross-examination, Jones was not satisfied and he began to
      question the witness himself.

      Saying he was confused, Jones asked her to explain specifically how the
      letters
      triggered her memory. "I ask you because intelligent design is not
      mentioned in
      either letter," he said.

      Geesey said her memories of the meetings run together and the letters
      helped
      her establish dates.

      Also in her deposition, Geesey could not define intelligent design - the
      idea
      that life's complexity demands a designer.

      In court Friday, she agreed with Walczak that she hadn't thought much
      about the
      concept and said she had taken the word of fellow board members
      Buckingham and
      Bonsell.

      "Bill and Alan said it was a scientific theory," she said.

      IN COURT FRIDAY

      About the trial

      What: Eleven people whose children attend or plan to attend Dover Area
      schools
      sued the school board and district, claiming the board's decision to
      make
      intelligent design part of the science curriculum violates the
      constitutional
      separation of church and state.

      The district says it wanted to give fair time to an alternative to
      evolution
      theory. Evolution is widely accepted as the unifying concept of biology.
      Intelligent design says evolution can't explain the complexity of life
      and that
      an unnamed designer must have been at work.

      When: Trial dates are Monday and Wednesday through Friday.

      Who: Judge John E. Jones III will issue his decision at a time of his
      choosing
      after the trial.

      Why it matters: It's the most significant court challenge to evolution
      since
      1987, and it's the first time a court has been asked to rule whether
      intelligent design can be taught in public school science class. Experts
      say
      the case's outcome could influence how science is defined and taught in
      schools
      across the country. The lead defense lawyer said he wants to take the
      case to
      the U.S. Supreme Court.

      Quote of the day

      "I don't know what you could possibly hope to achieve." - Judge John E.
      Jones
      III, to Dover lawyer Patrick Gillen on Friday. Gillen had asked Jones if
      he
      could question school board member Heather Geesey after
      cross-examination ended
      and Jones himself had questioned Geesey, telling her he was confused by
      her
      testimony.

      Quoted differently

      In June 2004, York Daily Record/Sunday News correspondent Joe Maldonado
      and
      York Dispatch correspondent Heidi Bernhard-Bubb both quoted former board
      member
      Bill Buckingham, at a board meeting, talking about standing up for
      Jesus. But
      their quotations differed slightly.

      Maldonado's articles quote Buckingham as saying: "Two thousand years
      ago,
      someone died on a cross. Can't someone take a stand for him?"
      Bernhard-Bubb's
      articles state, "Nearly 2,000 years ago someone died on a cross,
      shouldn't we
      have the courage to stand up for him?"

      Outside the courthouse, Dover lawyer Ed White said the differences prove
      the
      stories were inaccurate.

      Plaintiffs' attorneys say it proves the reporters were not sharing
      notes, as
      the defense has said.

      In court Monday

      Dover Area school board member Alan Bonsell and former school board
      member Jane
      Cleaver are scheduled to testify.

      top
      GEESEY'S LETTER

      Following is the complete letter to the editor written by Dover school
      board
      member Heather Geesey and published in the June 27, 2004, York Sunday
      News:

      This letter is in regard to the comments made by Beth Eveland from York
      Township in the June 20 York Sunday News. I assure you that the Dover
      Area
      School Board is not going against its mission statement. In fact, if you
      read
      the statement it says . . . to educate our students so that they can be
      contributing members of society.

      I do not believe in teaching revisionist history. Our country was
      founded on
      Christian beliefs and principles. We are not looking for a book that is
      teaching students that this is a wrong thing or a right thing. It is
      just a
      fact.

      All we are trying to accomplish with this task is to choose a biology
      book that
      teaches the most prevalent theories. The definition of theory is merely
      a
      speculative or an ideal circumstance. To present only one theory or to
      give one
      option would be directly contradicting our mission statement.

      You can teach creationism without its being Christianity. It can be
      presented
      as a higher power. That is where another part of Dover's mission
      statement
      comes into play. That part would be in partnership with family and
      community.
      You as a parent can teach your child your family's ideology.

      -HEATHER GEESEY




      Please see the Ohio Citizens for Science's web page at:


      http://OhioScience.org



      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ---
      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
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ---

      ******************************************************
      "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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