School board vote ends evolution debate for now

School board vote ends evolution debate for now
Associated Press - Wed, Oct. 11, 2006
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The state school board voted to end its debate over teaching evolution for now, stopping a committee's consideration of whether to replace an eliminated lesson plan that encouraged students to seek evidence for and against the concept.

The Ohio Board of Education voted 14-3 on Tuesday to set aside further debate of teaching guidelines that would say students should form judgments of controversial topics using critical analysis.

Critics said the proposal could provide an opening for religion-based challenges to evolution, such as intelligent design, the idea that DNA and other aspects of life are so complex that they're best explained as the intervention of a higher power.

The board voted in February to delete the lesson plan, but had referred it back to the committee for further review in the context of state science standards.

Board member Martha Wise of Avon said she pressed to end the discussion because the issue was overshadowing the board's work.

"It was time to move on," she said, adding that a new board might feel differently.

Voters will pick candidates for five of the board's 11 elected seats in November. The governor appoints the eight other board members, and four of those terms expire this year.

Committee co-chairman Michael Cochran of Blacklick, who voted against Wise's motion, said he would keep the debate alive.

"I will guarantee you that as long as I am chair of the committee, it's gonna be on the agenda next month," he said.

One of the critics of lesson plan, Patricia Princehouse, who teaches philosophy and evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said she approved of the board's action Tuesday.

"I'm deeply impressed by the leadership and courage of the board with making a clean break from creationism," she said.