Friday, September 12, 2014

And now we see . . . motivations, shenanigans, and hijinks with Ohio HB 597

A little while ago I posted about Ohio HB 597 (All not quiet on the Midwestern Front, Common Core Standards, and Is it really fair?).  Recent events made some of the motivations maybe a bit clearer.  The bill was being debated and a few hearings were being held and there have been two notable changes.

As reported by the National Science Education Center (NCSE) a few days ago "Ohio's antiscience bill unimproved", some of the objectionable wording was removed and replaced with a comment with a different emphasis.  The provision requiring the state's science standards to

"prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another" 
was removed by the House Rules and Reference Committee.  The wording was worrisome because it certainly gave the appearance that all sides, even the pseudo-science ideas, would get presented and a teacher would be powerless to inform the students which things had scientific merit and others, such as Creationism/Intelligent Design were nothing but religious concepts and had no merit in science.

At first glance you would think that it was an improvement, but it was replaced by a provision requiring students to
"review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories."
 Does that wording sound familiar?  Yes, the old 'strengths and weaknesses' that has been pushed for so very long by none-other than the Discovery Institute.  They tried to get it into standards in Ohio, Texas, and even Kansas.  They even had some success in Louisiana and Tennessee, but so far no one seems to be actually teaching using that argument.  At least it hasn't made the news anywhere yet.

I did like slipping in the phrase "in an objective manner", which sounds like to me if a teacher expressed the idea that something other than real science wasn't real science, he might be taken to task for not being objective.  Sound far-fetched?  I would like to remind you of Chris Comer, the former Texas Science Curriculum head who was fired for forwarding an email about a presentation by one of the witnesses of the Dover trial.  Remember the excuse?  Apparently the State Board of Education wants to remain neutral in the controversial issue of Intelligent Design/Creationism vs. Evolution.  Do you see any parallels?  I do!

What I really find interesting is that originally the DI did have a comment about the original wording, I posted about it here.  But since the change, not a peep out of them.  My guess is they don't want to draw any more attention to it.  There was one change, instead of singling out Evolution or Climate Change like they normally do, they took aim at the entire science curriculum.  Which, as you know, one of the common critique of the original strengths and weaknesses argument.

One last point.  we should never forget that HB 597 was supposed to be about repealing the Common Core Standards, and yet those standards did not address the science curriculum . . . funny thing, right?

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