Debate Forum Topic, 8/16/11

By Clay Bennett By Clay Bennett

Creationism vs. science vs. Ohio public schools

By Clay Bennett

After two members of the Springboro Community City School District requested school officials explore ways to integrate creationism into the schools’ curriculum, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) quickly addressed the issue in a letter to the school board. In that letter, the ACLU reminded the board that passing any policy promoting the teaching of creationism in the Springboro Community City Schools would leave the board legally liable for the costs of the lawsuit the ACLU would be forced to bring. The ACLU suggested that over the past several decades, the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have consistently found that teaching creationism, intelligent design or other religious-based ideologies unfairly promote one belief system over others in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Initially, board member Kelly Kohls and one other board member raised the idea of adding creationism alongside evolution as part of the science curriculum. Kohls’ position was that since evolution was at this point still only a scientific “theory,” that other theories of how man arrived on Earth should also be considered, including creationism and intelligent design. After a week of strong public reaction, including letters both in support and strongly against the Kohls’ proposition as well as the threat of legal action by the ACLU, Kohls has revised her position.

Kohls is now asking the district’s curriculum director to find a way to provide opportunities to students who want to study creationism away from the school, possibly using a “voucher-like” system. Parents who want their children to study intelligent design could use the vouchers to send their children to private schools where alternative theories are taught alongside evolution.

Opponents to teaching any alternative to evolution such as intelligent design, even if taught away from the public schools, compare teaching intelligent design to teaching “flat earthism.” They believe the doctrine of evolution is so well settled and accepted that teaching intelligent design is a form of child abuse. The ACLU has made it clear they also would oppose a voucher program, as it still would involve state tax dollars.

Forum Question of the Week:
Given the recent actions of the Springboro Community City School District, should creationism be taught in Ohio’s public schools?


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