Ohio School Board Members Are Considering New Assault On Teaching Of Evolution, Charges Americans United

Church-State Watchdog Group Files Public Records Request Regarding Proposed Changes To State Science Standards

Some members of the Ohio Board of Education appear to be preparing for another assault on the teaching of evolution in public schools, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Last month, board member Colleen Grady reportedly urged the Board of Education’s Achievement Committee to consider giving 10th-grade science teachers guidance on teaching evolution and other “controversial” issues such as global warming, cloning and stem-cell research.

Grady apparently put forward a proposal that would change the language of Ohio’s existing science standards in an effort to reflect religious criticism of evolution and other scientific principles. The proposal has not been publicly released.

On July 11, Americans United filed a request under the Ohio open records law that asks for copies of the Grady proposal as well as all documents and correspondence by the Board of Education and the Department of Education relating to proposed changes to the state’s science standards.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, urged the Ohio board to reject any effort to reopen the dispute over science education.

“Public school students in Ohio deserve sound science education, not religious dogma masquerading as science,” said Lynn. “It’s time for Religious Right allies on the board to drop their unwise agenda and focus on policies that will benefit all of Ohio’s students.”

The teaching of evolution has sparked an ongoing battle in Ohio. In January, the board voted 9-8 to affirm state science standards that downplayed evolution. A month later, the board reversed itself and voted to drop language that singled out evolution for “critical analysis” and a lesson plan that promoted “intelligent design.”

But Americans United says Religious Right allies on the board have apparently not given up, and have now expanded their focus to encompass other issues. AU made the public information request in an effort to learn exactly what the board is trying to do.

The AU letter requests copies of various documents, communications and other materials, including any contacts the board may have had with the Discovery Institute or other Religious Right organizations that seek to teach their religious perspectives in public school science classes.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.