State Considers Intelligent Design In Social Studies Classes

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State school board members are considering allowing intelligent design theory to be taught in social studies classes rather than science.

Board members have been struggling over whether to include alternatives to evolution, a concept based on Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, in public-school science classes. The Board of Education must decide this fall.

Members of the board's standards committee said Monday that they would explore whether intelligent design could be taught alongside history, geography, economics, government and citizenship.

Intelligent design is the concept that the complexity of living things required intervention by an intelligent designer, possibly God.

Board members Virgil Brown Jr. of Cleveland Heights and Michael Cochran of Blacklick raised the possibility and fellow members of the standards committee, Deborah Owens Fink of Richfield and Richard Baker of Hollansburg, agreed it merited exploration.

"Looking at the polls, there is broad recognition that these subjects should be taught in the classroom," Owens Fink said. "What classroom remains to be decided."

Owens Fink said she and other supporters of alternative views will propose at the committee's October meeting adding such instruction in the social studies standards, likely under comparative religion instruction for seventh grade.

Advocates of intelligent design say their viewpoint is scientific, not religious. Most scientists, however, view it as an attempt to get around barriers to teaching biblical creationism.

Ohio would become the first state to require such instruction.

Supporters of an evolution-only science curriculum conceded the concept could be taught elsewhere, perhaps by a team of teachers from different disciplines.

"It's probably a move in the right direction," said Lynn Elfner, executive director of the Ohio Academy of Science.

But Jody Sjogren, Ohio director of the Intelligent Design Network, said intelligent design raises questions that ought to be taught in science classes.

"The question is whether social studies teachers are qualified to deal with elements of intelligent design," she said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)