Ohio Science Standards Process Corrupted
UPDATE on September 9, 2002: About 24-hours after certain members of the State Board of Education decided to perpetrate this injustice on the citizens of Ohio, they reversed their decision. However, we are leaving the original e-mail we received about this from Melanie Elsey on our web site for historical purposes. It is important that Ohio citizens realize that this attempt occurred, and that it was done by someone who was appointed by Governor Taft to the SBE. It may speak volumes about whether or not certain members of the board are seriously considering public input, or whether they are listening only to Governor Taft who so far seems bent on thwarting the will of the people on this issue. See the links below for the latest information on this:
State Board of Education Leadership Reverses Decision
Dr. Robert gives tips on what Ohio Citizens should do next concerning the Science Standards
Original E-mail from Melanie Elsey:
Date Sun, 8 Sep 2002 073533 EDT
Subject ALERT Science Standards Process Corrupted!
For over a year the leadership of the State Board of Education and the co-chairs of the Standards Committee have been promoting a timeline for a vote on the science standards as follows
1. An intent to adopt vote -- October 2002
2. Presentation by State Superintendent Susan Zelman to a joint session of the Ohio House and Senate Education Committees -- November 2002 [a presentation required by state statute]
3. Final vote to adopt -- December 2002 There has been a LAST MINUTE decision by the board to move the intent vote up to THIS COMING TUESDAY! I have been attending meetings of the State Board of Education for 12 years. The week before each monthly meeting I receive the board agenda and materials for consideration at the meeting. I received my packet Thursday, September 5. There is no indication on the schedule that a vote of tremendous importance to the public had been put on the agenda! This is a disrespectful attempt to preclude the efforts of many who have been planning to testify in October from making their points in personal testimony with the board.
This is the SECOND time in the past twelve years that Governor Taft's handpicked extension of himself have written off the public. In November 2000, the State Board of Education scheduled public hearings on administrative rules for operating standards for all public and private schools. These hearings were required under chapter 119 of the Ohio Revised Code. It was the first time in more than 15 years that these rules had been rewritten. It was significant to the evolution issue, because it established new requirements for an alignment of what is taught and tested in Ohio's public and private schools. It completely removed local control for what would be taught and tested for standards not yet written.
For the FIRST time in twelve years, possibly in the history of the board, a 119 hearing was scheduled for the Wednesday morning AFTER the Tuesday board meeting and most of the members had gone home! There was not even a quorum of board members present to receive testimony of the public!
In that situation, it was clear that citizens could come, but the board didn't want to stick around to listen. In the current situation regarding the science standards, the board members will all be there, but they would prefer that the citizens not have the opportunity to appropriately plan to come.
Some board members will justify the decision to change the scheduled vote by saying that the ODE has received OVER 17,000 RESPONSES to these standards and there is no need to take further testimony, plus a handful of folks have testified over the last 8 months. But the reality is that there is a growing concern that the massive response from the public has not been accurately summarized for the board by the ODE. There is a significant difference between reading a brief summary prepared by ODE staff and hearing personal testimony from individual citizens. Also, a handful of witnesses testifying at the end of the business day on a nonagenda item is a different dynamic than testimony on a final draft presented at the time of a vote. It would be no different if legislative committees in the Ohio General Assembly canceled public testimony on a bill that had last minute amendments because citizens could have submitted their concerns in writing in the months prior to the vote.
This is the worst public relations decision the board has EVER made and I personally believe that GOVERNOR TAFT is behind it.
One more important detail The ODE has already scheduled a regional roll-out to train district personnel in the new standards [including science] for Tuesday, September 10 !! Advanced registration for this ODE sponsored training session was required before September 3 !! They have been planning to train district staff before the board even voted on the standards !!
It would still be important for citizens who can come to do so. The Standards Committee is supposed to meet on Monday [tomorrow] at 9 am [no public input] at the Ohio School for the Deaf [500 Morse Road, Columbus].
The vote of the full board is expected to vote during their business session scheduled for 1 pm on Tuesday, Sept. 10. NOTE The 1 pm business meeting is on the printed schedule I received this past week. If you want to confirm the time prior to driving to Columbus, please call the ODE Office of Board Relations on Monday. [614-466-4838]. I will be in Columbus both days and will not be able to send out an email if the schedule changes.
NOTE The entire final draft of the science standards can be viewed on the ODE website at
[Click on Life Science Indicators]
A few examples of what would be required to be taught in public and private schools 10th grade, #12 Describe that biological classification represents how organisms are related with species being the most fundamental unit of the classification system. Relate how organisms are arranged into a hierarchy of groups and subgroups based on similarities and differences that reflect their evolutionary relationships.
10th grade, #20 Recognize that a change in gene frequency (genetic composition) in a population over time is a foundation of biological evolution.
10th grade, #23 Explain that natural selection provides the following mechanism for evolution, variation in inherited characteristics exist within every species. These characteristics give individuals an advantage over others in surviving and reproducing, and the advantaged offspring are more likely to survive and reproduce. Therefore, the proportion of individuals that have advantageous characteristics will increase.
10th grade, #25 Explain that during most of the history of the earth only single-celled microorganisms existed; however once cells with nuclei developed nearly a billion years ago, increasingly complex multicellular organisms evolved.
I have posted the above e-mail we received from Melanie Elsie for historical purposes. Even though the board reversed itself 24-hours later, Ohio citizens need to be deeply concerned that there was even an attempt to do this. It may need that in the near future, we still need to consider doing the following:
Governor Taft stole control of the Board of Education from the people of Ohio in 2000 with his strong-arm tactics to push HB711 into law. He appears to still be trying to stomp on the will of the people of Ohio with more dirty political tricks. Make it clear to him that you will not support him in this or any future election.
Perhaps we need to start looking at ways we can take back control of the State Board of Education away from a governor.
We should work hard at making sure that any board members who vote shows support for continued censorship of scientific evidence is not reelected.
If the board implements these "evolution as fact" standards, we may need to approach our local legislators to see if the Ohio General Assembly can introduce bills to thwart these attempts to stomp on the will of the people of Ohio.