Boehner / Chabot Letter to Ohio Dept. of Education

Original Copy of the Boehner / Chabot Letter (PDF format, ~540k)

Ms. Jennifer L. Sheets
Ohio State Board of Education
25 South Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215-4183

Mr. Cyrus B. Richardson Jr.
Vice President
Ohio State Board of Education
25 South Front Street
Columbus, OH 4315-4183

Dear Ms. Sheets and Mr. Richardson:

We are writing to comment on recent Ohio School Board hearings regarding the teaching of science in Ohio public schools in light of some recent developments in federal education policy. As you know on January 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law H.R. 1, the Leave No Child Behind Act of 2001. During the debate concerning H. R. 1, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced an amendment, regarding teaching controversial elements of scientific theory. The Santorum amendment passed the Seante by a vote of 98 to 1 and was included as report language in the final version of H. R. 1, which was signed by the president. Specifically, the H.R. 1 Conference Report states:

The Conferees recognize that a quality science education should Prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from the religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.

Thus, the Santorum language is now part of the law. The Santorum language clarifies that public school students are entitled to learn that thee are differing scientific views on issues such as biological evolution.

H.R. 1 calls for the enactment of state standards in the field of science. It’s important that the implementation of these science standards not be used to censor debate on controversial issues in science, including Darwin’s theory of evolution. Science is neither religion nor philosophy. Many people may draw religious or philosophical implications from science, but those implication are best drawn outside the science classroom. Students should be allowed to hear the scientific arguments on more than one side of a controversial topic. Censorship of opposing points of view retards true scholarship and prevents students from developing their critical thinking skills.

The text of Santorum language in the H.R. 1 Conference Report and comments from members of House and Senate are enclosed for your background information. We hope this information will be of help to you in your deliberations.


Rep. John A. Boehner Rep. Steve Chabot
Chairman, House Education Chairman, House
And Workforce Committee Constitution Subcommittee