Good News from Ohio: Teaching the Controversy

Charles Colson
BreakPoint with Charles Colson
March 13, 2004
Original Article

How about some very good news, to brighten your day?

Recently, I told you that the academic freedom of high school students and teachers in Ohio was in serious jeopardy. At stake was the adoption of a groundbreaking new science curriculum, that allows for the “critical analysis” of evolutionary theory—a basic freedom that scientists themselves take for granted.

But many American science organizations oppose the Ohio curriculum and lobbied hard against it. They said—falsely—that it brought religion into the science classroom.

Well, on March 9, despite heavy pressure, the Ohio State Board of Education voted 13 to 5 to adopt the new curriculum. And that’s very good news.
In fact, this good news could make a difference right where you live. People in other states like Minnesota are considering doing what Ohio did. And don’t forget the Santorum amendment to the federal education law, which encourages this very thing.

Let me give you a good resource in this effort, a new book just published by Michigan State University Press, Darwinism, Design, and Public Education. It is edited by John Angus Campbell and Stephen Meyer, and the book promotes an educational proposal that Campbell and Meyer call “teaching the controversy.”

Here’s how it works. “When two groups of experts disagree about a controversial subject,” say Campbell and Meyer, “students should learn about both perspectives. Teachers should not teach as true only one competing view. Instead, they should describe competing views to students and explain the arguments for and against these views.”

Rather than teach only Darwin’s theory, as many in the science establishment insist, or eliminate any mention of evolution, as some well meaning (Christian) parents have advocated, Campbell and Meyer say they should teach students about Darwinian evolution and also the scientific controversies that surround it. Basic scientific literacy requires that students know both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution.

And this is what the Ohio Board of Education has decided. In Ohio, science education standards mandate that students should know “how scientists critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” The new curriculum implements that policy by teaching students about cutting edge criticisms of evolutionary theory that scientists themselves are discussing.

This approach has proven popular with everybody except entrenched defenders of Darwinism. Public opinion polls consistently show that more than 70 percent of Americans and of Ohioans support this policy. Nationally, there are now more than three hundred scientists who have signed a statement expressing skepticism about Darwinism. These scientists recommend an open and “careful examination of the evidence.”

Yet, staunch Darwinists still say they are going to sue the Ohio State Board for allowing students to do that. They are unlikely to prevail, in my opinion.
I recommend that you get the book Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, which will show you how in other states we can do the same thing Ohiohas done. This will not only benefit students, but it will also provide true academic freedom. The time has come.