Wesley R. Elsberry posted Entry 1354 on August 16, 2005 01:10 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1352

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Governor Taft’s appointees on the State Board of Education who voted in anti-science changes to the science standards adopted in 2002 and a “critical lesson plan” in 2003 were contacted by his staff to make sure that they knew Taft strongly supported the “intelligent design” measures.

Quick program…

* Ohio Governor Bob Taft, now revealed as an active advocate of “intelligent design”.
* Brian K. Hicks, Taft’s chief of staff when the Ohio science standards were being considered.
* Elizabeth Ross, Taft’s education liaison at the time.
* Wick, Craig, Schloemer: board of education members supporting good science standards.
* Deborah Owens-Fink, Michael Cochran, and James L. Turner, board of education members and “intelligent design” advocates.

Catherine Candisky of the Columbus Dispatch wrote:

In November 2002, after the board unanimously approved its intent to adopt science standards and just weeks before its final vote, Hicks wrote Elizabeth Ross, then Taft’s education liaison:

“You should call (Carl) Wick, (Jim) Craig and (Sam) Schloemer and let them know that the Gov. strongly supports the science standards that passed with a 17-0 vote. He does not want to see changes to the proposal and hope that these members will not support any changes to the standards.

“Let me know if I need to call anyone … we don’t want this thing to unravel.”

A few hours earlier, Ross had informed Hicks that the board’s leading advocate for intelligent design had called and was livid about an attempt to return to evolution-only standards.

Except that the proposed “return” was to science-only science standards.

Update: The Ohio Citizens for Science have issued a statement on the news of Taft’s advocacy of “intelligent design”.

There’s another bit about “livid” Fink:

After the election, Ross warned Hicks that board member Fink was livid over an 11th hour attempt to strip from the standards her compromise allowing for critical analysis, replacing it with the teaching of evolution only.

“Her message is that board member Marlene Jennings called her stating that she now had nine votes and hopes to have 10 or 11 by the board meeting in Dec. to go back to “evolution only” no compromise. Fink says that if the compromise was a pre-election setup, she worked day and night before and she will do so again and bring the state down on the board and it will look very bad for the gov - bait and switch etc.

“I told her I know nothing of this. In every conversation and communication you and the governor were committed to a workable compromise and this is totally out of line.”

Jennings did make such a proposal, but it did not pass.

Which is interesting, given Fink’s public persona of being just so nice to everybody.

It seems that “gaming the system” is just standard operating procedure for the “intelligent design” movement. Unable to deliver any semblance of scientific validity for their conjectures and unwilling to wait until their notions pass scientific muster, they have only the political process available. And even there they can’t win in a straight-up confrontation, but have to subvert the process.

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Comment #43328

Posted by Russell on August 16, 2005 3:16 PM (e)

Since this story tends to trickle out bit by bit, let me try to connect some dots.

The three pro-ID board members push the agenda of the religious right, in close consultation with the Discovery Institute, and with behind-the-scenes support from the Republican powers that be.

They “adopt” biblical literalist Bryan Leonard. Because he’s such a renowned educator? Because of his profound understanding of science? Forgive my skepticism, but I think not.

They search high and low for someone to write the lesson plan on evolution. Lo and behold, it turns out the one educator in the state best qualified to write that plan turns out to be… Bryan Leonard!

Now Bryan Leonard’s dubious “research” is defended against charges of radical bogosity because it coheres with the guidelines of the very cadre in the BoE that adopted him. And, of course, those guidelines are defended because distinguished educators, like Leonard, support them.

Now that Bush has publicly given his blessing, I predict that more and more state and local Republican organizations will take the DI’s propaganda as the official party line, and you’ll see a lot more of these efforts nationwide.

Comment #43337

Posted by RBH on August 16, 2005 3:48 PM (e)

Let us not forget Robert Lattimer’s speech to the “Darwin, Design, and Democracy IV” conference in Minneapolis (sponsored by Intelligent Design Network) in November 2003, after the State science standards were adopted but before the model curriculum was considered. Lattimer is a leader of the Ohio Intelligent Design Creationism movement. He told his audience

This is basically a political struggle…. Science will have very little to do with the arguments on what science standards will look like. Education will have little to do with it. It’s basically how the politics will work in a particular state.

Later, explaining how the politics worked in Ohio and how pressure was being applied to the Governor by the religious right in service of the ID Creationists, Lattimer said

Our governor is a moderate Republican. He was up for election last fall. He had done a couple of things that angered conservative voters, and he knew he needed conservative voters to win the election. He had chosen a running mate who was a pro-abortion person, and that angered the conservatives, and he had supported gambling expansion in Ohio and that angered conservatives. So he needed some support from conservatives.

And what happens?

And the Governor was twisting some arms. He appoints 8 of those [State Board of Education] members, but he has pretty much influence on the whole Board .

On the motion to delete the creationist model lesson plan, the Governor’s appointees dutifully voted as a block to keep it in. Neither science nor education mean a bloody thing to these people.

RBH

Note: The quotations from Lattimer above were transcribed by me from a recording purchased by a friend from Intelligent Design Network (instrument of John Calvert of Kansas Kangaroo Kourt fame).

Comment #43352

Posted by Mike Walker on August 16, 2005 4:24 PM (e)

If you’ve been following what’s been going on in Ohio over the past few months, it would be no surprise that the GOP leadership attempted to game the system regarding science education standards.

Just Google “Coingate”–you’ll get the picture, and after the very dubious way the Secretary of State Ken Blackwell conducted himself before last year’s elections, the people of Ohio have had to restort to proposing a consititutional amendment to place the election process into less partisan hands.

Comment #43354

Posted by RBH on August 16, 2005 4:37 PM (e)

My understanding (and it may be faulty, based as it is on hearsay) is that the ID creationism emails came to light in the course of the examination of emails released due to the investigation of Coingate. Everything’s connected to everything!

“Coingate” refers to the apparent scamming of the Ohio Workmen’s Comp fund by a coin dealer and former Republican County Chairman, who was given some millions of Workmen’s Comp dollars to “invest” in rare coins, many of which now appear to be … um … missing. Lost in the mail, is one claim. Yup. Damned Postal Service. Sure. Uh huh. (BTW, I’ve got this here bridge over the Scioto, with a view of Buckeye stadium, and I can give it to you cheap.)

RBH

Comment #43355

Posted by darwinfinch on August 16, 2005 4:51 PM (e)

The “Republican” party is now entirely based on the same principles, or lack of them, that typified classic Communism: the end ALWAYS justifies the means, and if it means votes or money, no further questions to be asked.
There are (currently) limits on their exercise of these practices, due to the long establishment and exercise of democracy, a wealthier, more distracted, generally tolerant citizenship, the (weakening) call of their own American-dveloped consciences, and, most especially, their constant intereference caused by their own incredible stupidity, cowardice, and greed, but for them Science, like Art, is the ultimate test of their will-to-power, since the ability to have their own counterfeits become the official standards, while utterly unimportant to their real interests, most clearly demonstrates their power.
It’s clear to me that I.D. is their prime candidate for an American form of Lysenkoism. Fortunately for science, Reality isn’t changed by either threats or polls, although many people may suffer much because of them.

Comment #43358

Posted by RBH on August 16, 2005 5:15 PM (e)

Not as much as Vavilov suffered.

RBH

Comment #43360

Posted by Russell on August 16, 2005 5:44 PM (e)

My understanding (and it may be faulty, based as it is on hearsay) is that the ID creationism emails came to light in the course of the examination of emails released due to the investigation of Coingate. Everything’s connected to everything!

Seems likely, since the memos revealing the governor’s hand in the BoE’s embrace of the Discovery Institute’s plans come from this guy:
Taft’s Former Top Aide Pleads No Contest To Ethics Charge

Comment #43386

Posted by Hiero5ant on August 16, 2005 7:46 PM (e)

I think all this out-of-state commentary is just nosy meddling that fails to appreciate the reality in Ohio.

I mean, sure, untold amounts of money may have been stolen by elected officials, the education system may be in a shambles, and the economy may be in a downward spiral, but at least there isn’t any legalized gay marriage. Because that, as we know from the Bible, would be immoral.

Comment #43393

Posted by snaxalotl on August 16, 2005 8:32 PM (e)

“teach the controversy” lessons should tell the story of Lysenkoism. I don’t see that anything else needs to be added.

Comment #43394

Posted by RBH on August 16, 2005 8:52 PM (e)

Hiero5ant wrote

I mean, sure, untold amounts of money may have been stolen by elected officials, the education system may be in a shambles, and the economy may be in a downward spiral, but at least there isn’t any legalized gay marriage. Because that, as we know from the Bible, would be immoral.

Don’t neglect to add that the guy who pushed hardest for the anti-gay-marrriage amendment is a serial polygamist.

RBH

Comment #43402

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 16, 2005 9:35 PM (e)

I’m very surprised it took this long to ferret out the details, to tell you the truth.

what leonard and co. were doing was obvious way back even before the Kansas debacle. I noticed his dissertation thesis even back then (in the thread on the list of invitees), and wondered why nobody was seeing what was being done there, or asking serious questions about his dissertation commitee.

I’m sure there are other planned “dissertation” experiments underway as we speak.

IMO, not only should those involved in the committees for these dissertations be severely reprimanded, but the responsible departments should also be investigated publically as well. It’s an absolute disgrace that ANY university be abused in this fashion, and only slightly less so that the university itself would let something like this “fall through the cracks” - must be some mightly large cracks!

I’d also like to see whether Leonard received any public funding for this “dissertation”, and if so, should be forced to return it.

Really, i can’t stress enough how seriousness of an abuse to the whole concept of graduate education this fiasco encompasses. Rigorous investigation of other potential abuses should only be the starting point, imo.

I hope NCSE and others spend some time tracking down other likely abuses of this nature, and force universities to crack down on this crap.

Comment #43462

Posted by RBH on August 17, 2005 10:20 AM (e)

STJ wrote

I hope NCSE and others spend some time tracking down other likely abuses of this nature, and force universities to crack down on this crap.

And solve global warming and the energy crisis, too, in their spare time. How big do you think NCSE is? This is not someone else’s job, it’s a job for all of us who value science and the fundamental lessons of the Enlightenment. The “others” have to be all of us. We are the people on the ground, in the universities and the companies and the communities, and it’s our responsibility, not someone else’s. One of the most frustrating tasks I’ve personally encountered in some years of activism in this area at the local and state levels is getting my colleagues in the scientific community off their academic butts and out into the battle. Many – the large majority, in fact – apparently think it will go away by itself because it’s so inane, or that someone else will take care of it. Well, that someone else is you!

RBH

Comment #43470

Posted by Russell on August 17, 2005 10:43 AM (e)

From the “omigodamericandemocracyisdoomed” file:

http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=3729738

August 17, 2005

Governor says there’s room for evolution criticism in classrooms

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Bob Taft said on Tuesday that while evolution should
be taught in public schools he also supports providing students with
theories critical of evolution.

Taft, a Republican, also said he can’t say whether the concept of
intelligent design is science.

“I’m not an expert in evolution or in intelligent design,” Taft said. “I’m
not sure I fully understand what exactly intelligent design means.”

Taft says current state policy is an appropriate compromise between groups
with competing ideas about teaching evolution.

The state school board approved lesson plans last year that some scientists,
opponents of the standards and intelligent design, say continue to contain
inaccurate information about evolution.

Proponents, including some supporters of intelligent design, say the plans
are some of the country’s most rigorous in favor of evolution.

Taft stayed neutral during the school board’s development of science
standards in 2002 and lesson plans last year, but behind the scenes his
office pressured the board to approve a compromise, The Columbus Dispatch
reported Tuesday.

Weeks before the final vote in November 2002, Taft chief of staff Brian
Hicks wrote an e-mail to Taft’s education liaison, Elizabeth Ross, urging
her to let board members on the fence know the governor’s position.

“He does not want to see changes to the proposal and hope that these members
will not support any changes to the standards,” the e-mail said. “Let me
know if I need to call anyone … we don’t want this thing to unravel.”

The e-mails confirm what opponents of the standards long suspected about
Taft’s attempt to influence the board, Lawrence Krauss, a physics professor
at Case Western Reserve University, said Tuesday.

Taft spokesman Mark Rickel said the e-mails were being misconstrued. He said
they represented efforts to inform board members, not pressure them.

Taft said Tuesday that evolution is “an established body of knowledge in the
scientific field which should be taught and should be part of our academic
standards.”

He also said Ohio has experts in evolution and intelligent design.

“We have to trust them and rely upon them and that’s why we worked toward a
compromise where evolution would be taught and would be the focus but
subject to the introduction of critical theories,” Taft said.

Comment #43498

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 17, 2005 12:26 PM (e)

He also said Ohio has experts in evolution and intelligent design.

Just what are experts in Intelligent Design experts of, since “intelligent design itself has no content”?

Comment #43523

Posted by Mike Walker on August 17, 2005 1:56 PM (e)

Attorneys to discuss charging Governor Taft today.

Columbus - Prosecutors are expected to decide today whether Gov. Bob Taft will go down in history as Ohio’s first governor charged with a crime while in office.

On Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors received findings of an Ohio Ethics Commission investigation into Taft’s June 21 announcement that he failed to include a number (over 50 @ at least $75 a piece)of free rounds of golf on his annual ethics statements.

More grist for the mill. Innocent until proven guilty and all that, but all this seems to feed into the greater pattern of GOP political life in Ohio. As long as you pay lip service to the very narrow definition of morality being pushed by right-wing fundamentalists, then you can get away with most anything.

Comment #43582

Posted by Dave Thomas on August 17, 2005 5:16 PM (e)

Looks like getting caught pimping for Intelligent Design is the Least of Gov. Taft’s worries.

Ohio’s Beacon Journal reports that

Gov. Bob Taft, a stickler for the rules who pushed for high ethical standards in his office, was accused Wednesday of failing to report 52 gifts, including dinners, golf games and professional hockey tickets, becoming the first Ohio governor charged with a crime.

The gifts were worth about $5,800 and occurred from 2001 through 2004, prosecutors said. Taft earlier had revealed that he failed to report some outings but said the omissions were accidental.

Taft, a Republican and member of a distinguished U.S. political family, could be fined $1,000 and sentenced to six months in jail on each count if convicted, though time behind bars was considered unlikely.

-Dave

Comment #43616

Posted by rich on August 17, 2005 9:09 PM (e)

Picked up by CNN too..

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/08/17/ohio.governor.ap/index.html

Comment #43617

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 17, 2005 9:13 PM (e)

5800 in gifts over how many years?

pretty laughable. I’d bet shwarzenegger out here in CA received that much in gifts on any given week, just in stuff he wasn’t even aware of.

amazing that overt influence of a school district isn’t considered a crime, but accepting a paltry sum in gifts is.

oh well, they nailed capone on tax evasion, yes?

Comment #43686

Posted by djmullen on August 18, 2005 5:23 AM (e)

Salon had this to add:

“But even before news of the charges was released, Taft wasn’t winning any popularity contests in the state: In a recent poll, only 17 percent of Ohioans said they approved of the job their governor was doing.”

http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/index.html?blog=/politics/war_room/2005/08/17/taft/index.html
(Registration or watching a commercial required.)

Comment #43750

Posted by Flint on August 18, 2005 1:31 PM (e)

Taft has elected to plead no contest to the charges. Maybe we can make the argument that those who lack morality are best equipped to try to impose it?

Comment #44170

Posted by Coragyps on August 20, 2005 9:19 PM (e)

Taft said. ‘I’m not sure I fully understand what exactly intelligent design means.’ “

Well, he’s in pretty good company there, I guess: Behe, Dembski, Johnson….

Comment #44386

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

“Taft said. ‘I’m not sure I fully understand what exactly intelligent design means.’ ““

er, was he just following orders, then?

Comment #45655

Posted by Frank Johnson on August 30, 2005 6:09 AM (e)

Good Service