Scientists question deletions
Scientists question deletions
They say minutes altered to sidestep controversy

By Patrick Cain - Wed, Sep. 13, 2006 - Beacon Journal Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS - A State Board of Education proposal that critics say could bring creationist teaching into science classrooms appears to be stalled. Meanwhile, evolution backers raised questions Tuesday about the board altering records to remove traces of its involvement in the potentially explosive issue.

On Monday, a board subcommittee did not vote as scheduled on the "Controversial Issues Template" as the proposal is known, although the issue could come up for a vote at next month's regularly scheduled board meeting.

The proposal provides guidelines for discussion of controversial topics, but evolution backers say it is a smoke screen to get intelligent design into classrooms. Intelligent design, or ID, is a controversial alternative to evolution that teaches life is so complex it could only have begun with divine intervention.

The full board could have weighed in Tuesday, but a two-hour time limit on the issue expired before the roll was taken.

Patricia Princehouse, evolution advocate and professor at Case Western Reserve University, said the achievement committee didn't run behind schedule by accident.

Princehouse said the committee ate up the two hours by rewriting minutes from July to remove from the public record any direct mention of intelligent design.

Steve Rissing, an Ohio State University professor and evolution backer, said the changes in the minutes are significant.

"The corrected minutes bear no resemblance to what I saw and what I heard," Rissing said.

The template's author, Colleen Grady, a board member from Strongsville, pushed during Monday's meeting to remove language referring to evolution, global warming, stem-cell research and cloning technologies that were in the original standards introduced in July.

The two scientists maintain Grady introduced these specific ideas in July and they were contained in the minutes assembled then, but the board's rewriting of those minutes has deleted references to these controversial ideas.

Grady could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A review of a tape recording of the board's July meeting indicates Steve Millett, a member from Columbus, said the new curriculum should not challenge specific topics like evolution.

According to the tape recording, made available by the evolution backers, no members discussed global warming, cloning and stem-cell research during the July meeting, yet those issues appeared in the July minutes.

References to these ideas in the July minutes were removed by the board at Monday's meeting.

Grady refers to the controversial ideas without naming them during the July meeting.

"Some of the items that were thrown out here are straw men with this language -- some of them have generated far more interest than evolution," Grady said, according to the tape recording of the July meeting.

She went on to say there's an argument to be made whether the board should specifically address evolution when discussing controversial issues, but "I think we'd be dodging it. It'd be the elephant in the corner" if left unmentioned.

Patrick Cain can be reached at 614-222-2361 or