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September 7, 2006

Ohio’s Fink tank

From the state that brought you America’s most successful sex-education program:

The state school board will consider Monday whether the debate over intelligent design vs. evolution should have a second coming.
At the request of the board, the Ohio Department of Education drafted a nine-page “Controversial Issues Template.”
Supporters say the template provides guidelines for discussion; opponents say the document is an-
other attempt to single out and cast doubt on widely accepted scientific theories.
The nine-page document itself is evolutionary. Earlier this year, a proposal was [made] to encourage debate of specific issues: Evolution, global warming and stem cell research.
Now, it encourages students to conduct research and have open discussion in the classroom.
The template is expected to get its first airing when the board and its committees hold their monthly three-day meetings in Columbus next week.
The proposal “is a lot of gobbledygook—it’s just another wedge into the teaching of ID in science classes,” said Martha Wise, a 28-year board member from Avon, who has been an opponent of the creationist supporters.
But seven-year board member Deborah Owens Fink of Akron said that those saying the template is about intelligent design are flat-out wrong.
“Whoever is starting that rumor doesn’t have a clue what’s going on,” she said. “Science is the process of inquiry and open discussion on any issue. True scientists don’t mind debate and discussion.”

Ah yes, science: a topic that wingnut Owens Fink—an associate professor of marketing at the University of Akron—is intimately unfamiliar with. Having lost her most recent battle to get intelligent design on the Ohio school curriculum, Owens Fink is back with an even more dishonest pitch, in the apparent belief that Ohioans have extremely short memories.

For all her denials, Owens Fink is of course a long-time ID apologist who in 2001 nominated Robert Lattimer, de facto leader of Ohio’s ID movement, to serve on the state’s educational science advisory committee. In an email to the Ohio Department of Education explaining her nomination (which was leaked to the Cleveland Plain Dealer), Owens Fink wrote that she was “very hopeful that Bob Lattimer and at least one other intelligent-design person can be included,” and added that, like Lattimer, she too felt “additional competing theories [should] be included as well—e.g. intelligent design.” (Lattimer, it should be noted, is a real stand-up guy who also opposes women’s and minority rights.)

Fortunately, Fink—who recently described the National Academy of Sciences as “a group of so-called scientists”—is headed back to the obscurity of the marketing faculty. In the upcoming November 7th school-board elections, she is being challenged by Tom Sawyer, a former Ohio congressman who chaired the House Education Committee during his time in the legislature, and was also a member of the education committee in the US House of Representatives. Sawyer was drafted to run by the group Help Ohio Public Education (HOPE), whose advisory board includes scientists from Case Western Reserve and Ohio State universities. Ironically, another of its board members is the Reverend George Coyne, former chief astronomer of the Vatican Observatory and a fervent opponent of ID. Because of his views, Coyne was fired by pro-creationist Pope Benedict in August.

As Kos notes, Tom Sawyer for Board of Education is one of those local campaigns that could use national support. Failing that, drop Owens Fink an email and let her know what you think of her seven-year campaign to undermine Ohio’s already ailing education system.

Posted by Stephen at 1:28 PM in Education | Evolution | Politics | Religion + cults | Science + technology | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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