DeVos: intelligent design is about ideas

Analysis

This article is based upon comments made by gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos on the issue of what is referred to as intelligent design being taught in public schools. The article cites DeVos, his campaign manager, the ACLU, and the Thomas More Law Center. The article also mentions what Governor Granholm’s position is on the issue and that DeVos and his wife have given money to the Thomas More Law Center in support of their legal defense for the right of intelligent design to be taught in public schools. Was there any bias in this story? Are readers able to understand what is at issue based upon the information provided? Is the article useful for voters?

Article Text

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos says he thinks Michigan’s science curriculum should include a discussion about intelligent design, although he wouldn’t require that it be taught in science classes.

He says he’d like to see local school districts continue to be able to teach intelligent design if they choose to. He says teaching intelligent design along with evolution would help students discern the facts among different theories.

“I would like to see the ideas of intelligent design that many scientists are now suggesting is a very viable alternative theory,” DeVos told The Associated Press on Tuesday during a taped telephone interview on education. “That theory and others that would be considered credible would expose our students to more ideas, not less.”

DeVos campaign manager Greg McNeilly added Wednesday: “He supports the current legal option that school boards have and that local community leaders have in deciding what their curriculum should include. School boards should have the opportunity to offer evolution and intelligent design in science classes. We support that local control.”

DeVos was asked during the interview with the AP, “Would you support science guidelines that allow intelligent design to be included in the science curriculum?” He answered, “Yes.”

Intelligent design’s proponents hold that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher force rather than evolving from more primitive forms. Some want science teachers to teach that Darwin’s theory of evolution is not a fact and has gaps.

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

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said that Michigan schools need to teach the established theory of evolution in science classes and not include intelligent design. She says school districts can explore intelligent design in current events or comparative religions classes.

The State Board of Education last week postponed adopting new science curriculum guidelines until state lawmakers get more time to weigh in on what the state’s public schools science curriculum should be and how it should approach the teaching of evolution.

House Education Committee Chairman Brian Palmer, R-Romeo, told the board that language adopted in curriculum standards should be broader rather than narrower to allow for changes in theory.

He did not mention intelligent design, although critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan have said some Republican lawmakers are trying to “weaken” state standards to allow some instruction about intelligent design in science classes.

The issue already has generated some controversy in Michigan. The Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center last year threatened to sue Gull Lake Community Schools over its policy that intelligent design can’t be taught as part of science classes. The law center represented the Dover school district whose policy was struck down.

Two middle school teachers in the Gull Lake district in southwest Michigan had wanted to include intelligent design as an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution in their classes. The district banned them from doing so.

The Gull Lake policy now bans intelligent design from being taught in any science classes but would allow a discussion of intelligent design as part of other classes, the district’s attorney, Lisa Swem, said Wednesday.

The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, funded by the candidate and his wife, gave the Thomas More Law Center $5,000 in 2002.

DeVos told the AP this week that allowing school districts to include intelligent design in science classes lets them “expose students to a multitude of ideas, … to think through the challenges, to learn to discern between multiple theories.”

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org