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Ohio Backs Evolution In Lesson Plans

Disputed teaching material used by Ohio public school students that questions evolutionary theory is headed back to the state committee that wrote the first version.

The Ohio Board of Education voted 11-4 Tuesday to delete a science standard and correlating lesson plan that encourages students to seek evidence for and against evolution. Critics had called the material an opening to teach intelligent design, which holds that life is so complex it must have been created by a higher authority.

"It is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about science," said board member Martha Wise, who pushed to eliminate the material.

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.

The board vote represents the latest setback for the intelligent design movement.

In December, a federal judge barred the school system in Dover, Pa., from teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in high school biology classes. The judge said that intelligent design is religion masquerading as science, and that teaching it alongside evolution violates the separation of church and state.

Also last year, a federal judge ordered the school system in suburban Atlanta's Cobb County to remove from biology textbooks stickers that called evolution a theory, not a fact.

Supporters of the eliminated passage pledged to force another vote.

"We'll do this forever, I guess," said board member Michael Cochran.

In approving Wise's motion, the board rejected a competing plan to request a legal opinion from the state attorney general on the constitutionality of the science standards. Wise said the board could do that if the committee recommends a replacement.

Board member Deborah Owens Fink, who voted against eliminating the lesson plan, said it was unfair to deny students the chance to use logic to question a scientific theory.

"We respect diversity of opinion in every other arena," said Owens Fink, from Akron.

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