An Ohio state legislator introduced a bill that would require the
theory of evolution to be taught with both supporting and refuting
evidence but teachers unions and supporters of the theory say the bill
violates separation of church and state.
Rep. Ron Hood, R-Canfield, introduced a bill in Ohio to balance evolution curricula.
Rep. Ron Hood, R-Canfield, introduced the one-paragraph bill on Wednesday, which states: “Whenever a theory of the origin of human or other living things that might commonly be referred to as ‘evolution’ is included in the instructional program provided by any school district or educational service center, both scientific evidence supporting or consistent with the theory and scientific evidence not supporting or inconsistent with the theory shall be included.”
Similar legislation died four years ago under pressure from scientists and teachers’ unions. Hood said he decided to try again after the Kansas Board of Education voted last year to erase virtually all mention of evolution from that state’s science teaching guidelines.
Teachers unions contend that Hood’s bill would violate the constitutional separation of church and state by introducing religious values into classrooms.
“It’s unfortunate he’s decided to do this again,” said Michael Billirakis, president of the
Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union.” We should be talking about what we can do to help get more resources to our teachers and students instead of arguing the Scopes Monkey Trial one more time,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ohio lawyer Clarence Darrow defended teacher John T. Scopes in 1925 as the evolution debate gripped the nation. Scopes was convicted of defying a ban on teaching evolution in Tennessee’s public schools but was freed later on a technicality.
But, Hood’s bill makes no mention of religion or any other theory related to the origin of life.
He told WorldNetDaily the unions are “just saying something even thought there’s no truth in it. This at least provides a small amount of protection in a lot of schools from having evolution being taught as if it were a fact.”
“[Teachers’ unions] seem to get [more] heavily involved in this than other battles they are involved in,” he said. “I don’t quite understand why, because the rank and file teachers are truly split on this issue. I do not believe the union leadership reflects the membership.”
Natalie Williams, vice president of the California-based think tank
Capitol Resource Institute, had strong words to say about the teachers’ union’s position.
“It appears that the teachers’ union in Ohio is not interested in academic integrity in the curriculum,” she said. “They are not acting in the best interest of student learning. It appears they’re content with teaching myths and speculation. It’s unfortunate that Ohio students aren’t getting a quality education because of the paranoid agenda of the teachers’ union.”
California, which recently approved statewide math standards for public schools, is currently reviewing its science standards.
“We just hope that the teachers’ union in California will take the higher ground and not be afraid of teaching students factual information. [Teachers should give] them all sides of the issues instead of censoring-out information that they don’t happen to agree with,” Williams added.
Past attempts to include alternate explanations in curricula regarding the origin of life have been met with staunch opposition by both teachers’ unions and the courts. Hood believes his bill will pass constitutional muster because it deals only with the theory of evolution.
“I am carrying the bill because I’ve had several families in my district express concern about how evolution is being taught in their schools. It’s being taught as a fact and not a theory,” Hood said.
“There has been a lot of evidence that has come out that supports evolution and there’s evidence that undermines evolution. I just think that both need to be taught, because, at the very least, it’s misleading — but for all intents and purposes it’s a lie.”
Researchers recently revealed that DNA extracted from a 29,000-year-old bone has cast doubt on the theory that modern humans evolved in part from Neanderthals.
The findings were published in an April issue of the journal “Nature.”
Hood points to the findings as further evidence of the need for his legislation.
House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, R-Reynoldsburg, said the bill was not a priority for the Republican-led legislature. And, with Ohio legislators planning to spend most of the summer campaigning for the fall elections, there likely will be no action on the bill this year.