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February 14, 2006

Ohio Board of Education Picks Up Clue, Sprints

Now I have one less reason to believe the State of Ohio is planning to make my child intentionally ignorant:

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio school board voted Tuesday to eliminate a passage in the state’s science standards that critics said opened the door to the teaching of intelligent design.
The Ohio Board of Education decided 11-4 to delete material encouraging students to seek evidence for and against evolution.

It's nice to see that even this particularly weak-kneed swipe against evolution is no longer considered viable in the state where I live. But the Law of the Conservation of Stupidity, in which stupidity is never eliminated, it merely changes form and location, is at work here: now South Carolina's school board is fiddling with their high school biology standards to try to make evolution look bad.

However, right now that's South Carolina's problem, and as I've said before, if other states want to intentionally make their children more ignorant, that just thins the herd for Athena when it comes time for her college applications. So you go on right ahead, South Carolina, and make your kids as pan-hit dim as possible. Ohio is presently out of the "enculturating ignorance" business, and for the moment, that's good enough for me.

Posted by john at February 14, 2006 08:30 PM

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Daruku | February 14, 2006 09:52 PM

Here here. Or is it Hear Hear? :)

Martin Wagner | February 14, 2006 11:14 PM

if other states want to intentionally make their children more ignorant, that just thins the herd for Athena when it comes time for her college applications. So you go on right ahead, South Carolina, and make your kids as pan-hit dim as possible...

Much as I'm happy to root for Athena in the Darwinian gladiatorial arena of college applications, I don't want to see any states caving in to the the far right's agenda of theocratic dimwittery. The more knowledge is stifled in favor of religious ideology in America, the further the country will fall behind (as if it could get worse; we're already something like 18th or 19th place in math and science education) and we're going to find ourselves owned by the Chinese inside of a generation. Let's save the educations of every student, [music cue: patriotic choir] for the future [crescendo] of America. Thank you. Good night.

Brandon | February 15, 2006 08:10 AM

Well, thank the gods for states' rights. I can only imagine how things would be if the Federal government set rules for these kinds of things.

I wish that every school had a mandatory "Religions of the World" class so that you could teach about each of the big religions and not have to sneak it in some science class. I'm not talking theology here, just the history of the various religions and their cultural impacts. Then the kids could learn about the various creation theories and get a good science education at the same time. It might also help them learn something about the world outside of the US in the process. After all, it's kind of hard to learn about the Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe without knowing about Islam.

JimW | February 15, 2006 10:37 AM

Good idea, Brandon. Making students more world-aware can only help with the raging bigotry going on today.

It's a shame that you clearly have no future in politics. ;-)

Chris | February 15, 2006 10:55 AM

Am I the only one who noticed the subtle use of the word "Sprint" in the title of the post?

He's started on the subliminal advertising for his corporate sponsors! :)

Adam | February 15, 2006 11:21 AM

Hey, I've been reading your blog and your artilces in OPM and I never realized your stomping ground was the same as mine. I must not have paid enough attention. I'm from Akron, a little town just south of Cleveland.
I was just as relieved as you when I read about the vote down on ID. It's a renewed sense of hope for me.

Brandon | February 15, 2006 01:10 PM

I do too have a career in politics, JimW. I shot my first lawyer just yesterday.

Brian Greenberg | February 15, 2006 02:31 PM

I'm sure I'll regret opening this can of worms yet again, but look at the paragraph just beyond the one John quoted:

The 2002 science standards said students should be able to “describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” The standards included a disclaimer that they do not require the teaching of intelligent design.

Forgetting entirely about Intelligent Design (which seems to be a red herring here, given the last sentence above), what they seem to have done here is discourage students from critically analyzing what their teachers tell them.

Now, tell me exactly how this makes the kids less ignorant? Aren't we throwing the baby out with the bathwater (you'll excuse the metaphor...)?

Brian Greenberg | February 15, 2006 02:32 PM

@#$^&@#% HTML tags...

John Scalzi | February 15, 2006 03:02 PM

Well, Brian, part of the issue centers on the fact that evolution was singled out in the educational standards, implying there continued to be some controversy regarding evolutionary theory from a scientific point of view, which there is not. Evolution was being targeted for political purposes, not scientific ones.

Certainly kids should learn that science is about inquiry and examining one's assumptions and being open to new hypotheses concerning data; however, that should probably be covered in a general overview of the scientific process rather than being specified to apply to one theory in particular (especially one targeted by religous zealots).

If one were to insist on singling out a particular theory as an example of how scientists "continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects," evolutionary theory is a bad example anyway, since at the basic level at which it is taught in high schools, there's about as much controversy among biologists regarding it as there is regarding heliocentrism among astrophysicists. One would be better to focus on subjects where there is current foment; for example, discussions about whether "dark matter" exists in our universe or not.

emeraldcite | February 15, 2006 03:24 PM

The article mentions that other theories beside evolution should be taught.

Then I'd like to offer up my belief that the Earth was actually crapped out by a very large Spirit Elephant. All the planets are said feces and the Sun is the bright, hot center of it all.

The twinkling we see in the background is just a reflection of our own sparkling brilliance and is nothing more than a conspiracy against the Sun.

Since we are in the business now of teaching theory without proof, I will push for this new possibility to be taught in the classroom.

[grumble grumble]

Jon Marcus | February 15, 2006 06:42 PM

Re "Thinning the herd" for Athena:

Give your daughter some credit. Would you prefer to work, study, or even compete with a bunch of "pan hit dim" ignoramuses? She's likely as smart or smarter than you, so why assume she'd want less, or that it'd be better for her?

I realize it's tongue-in-cheek. But you obviously love and respect her, so why make comments at her expense? Even if they're only jokes at the expense of her (seemingly) far-off future self.

John Scalzi | February 15, 2006 07:11 PM

Relax, Jon. In the end I don't expect the proportion of stupid/ignorant people in the world to be substantially different for her than it is for me. And I doubt Athena will read any of this and think I was making fun of her.

Anonymous | February 15, 2006 11:28 PM

John, I know you were just makin' the funny when you said that South Carolina's dumb-down program would help clear the way for your daugher's success. And I hope she is successful. But I also hope she gets to live in an America smart enough to elect good leaders. In that regard, South Carolina is letting her down.

John Scalzi | February 16, 2006 09:58 AM

Well, given the current national adminstration, I regret to say it's not merely South Carolina.

Tard "Teabag" Bargledeen III | February 16, 2006 10:07 AM

Re: John Scalzi,"In the end I don't expect the proportion of stupid/ignorant people in the world to be substantially different for her than it is for me."

Intelligence is an evolutionary dead end. The stupid will always outbreed the intelligent. It is inevitable that the number of stupid people will increase while the intelligent smugly restrain their number to the point of extinction. Since we can't out-think you, we will simply have sex as often and as recklessly as possible. In the end there can be only stupidity.

Bob Westbrook | February 18, 2006 09:26 PM

Creation versus Evolution ?
I don’t KNOW that God exists. I hope he does and if so that he is allot nicer than religions make him out to be. Living forever is a nice thought and we all tend to believe what is comforting to us. I really don’t get the creationists though, as a former fundamentalist pastor with a theology degree, I have an insight to how they think. I have watched them on their television programs try to “Scientifically” prove the world and universe is 5,000 years old by parading a variety of “experts” in front of the camera. I began to wonder if being stupid is a requirement to be that kind of Christian.
So I offer up my own theory. Gods not in a hurry. Time means nothing when you always have been and always will be. Why not think of him as a gardener who threw out the worlds and tossed out some seeds like amino acids and DNA or whatever. Then he would come around every billion years or so and see what happened. Hell, he could have made the universe zillions and zillions of times. I know he’d have to do something to keep from being bored. I get bored with a long day much less with forever on my hands.

Norma | February 21, 2006 12:51 PM

Thank God little Athena will never be allowed to investigate another point of view. Heavens, they might even want her to understand Western Civ! Now she'll be safe forever from all bigotry.

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