Polk County: School official wants intelligent design

This just in from the Lakeland Ledger.

A Polk County School Board member said Monday she wants the district to consider opposing proposed new science standards for Florida schools that would include specific mention of evolution for the first time.

However, Polk board member Kay Fields objects to the portion of the standards that includes evolution, and she said she will talk with Superintendent Gail McKinzie this week about possible action the district can take.

“There needs to be intelligent design as well,” Fields said. “You need to show both sides.”

Florida Citizens for Science board member Jonathan Smith was quoted in the story (as a National Center for Science Education representative).

Smith’s group supports the proposed standards and says there is overwhelming support in the scientific community for teaching evolution, while the idea of intelligent design is not scientifically valid.

And here we see the same old “it’s just a theory” junk trotted out:

People have had limited opportunity to voice their opinions to state officials in person. Two meetings about the new standards were canceled.

The second and last meeting for the public to attend will be on Thursday in Orlando.

At the first meeting Saturday in Tallahassee, Wakulla County Board member Greg Thomas spoke out against the new standards.

“This will run afoul of many students and teachers,” Thomas said Monday. “When I was taught this in public schools it was Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

For the record, the word theory has a different meaning in science. If I heard correctly, the additional public meetings were canceled because there supposedly wasn’t time for proper advance notice to the public.

I’m curious as to where these school board members heard about intelligent design. Friends, family, church, other parents, the library? Surely, if they heard about it, they also heard how it failed miserably in court? Tonight is a good opportunity for these folks to learn all they need to know when PBS airs a special on the subject. It should be required viewing!

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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12 Responses to Polk County: School official wants intelligent design

  1. Tim says:

    You’re so afraid of the many fallacies of evolution being exposed that you don’t even want the other side presented? Evolution is not science, it is a belief system. Besides, Ms. Fields did not propose eliminating it from the curriculum.

    Grow a sack and don’t be scared of an alternative viewpoint.

  2. Jonathan Smith says:

    Tim, please share with us the “many fallacies of evolution”
    You ID guys churn out the same old rhetoric without a shred of
    scientific evidence to support your egregious claims.
    Seems to me you need to spend less time thinking with your “sack”
    and try using your brain for once.

  3. Progressive Florida says:

    I just wrote a letter to Kay Fields. Being from Polk County, this is the biggest crap I’ve ever heard. I thought the county would be moving forward on education, since adopting the new system of appointing the Superintendent. Signs were looking bright, but I guess that didn’t last.

  4. K says:

    Hearing about assorted morons believing in magic and hocus pocus is one thing, but a SCHOOL actually SUPPORTING it in favor of reality is just nauseating. I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised because this IS Florida but still, to come out and actually say, “You need to show both sides,” as a representative of the county school board member, I mean, I’m so embarrassed for her. Your Tim doesn’t make the same impact because he isn’t anyone and I’m not hearing it from a live person.

    It’s like the time this homeschooling mom was trying to start up conversation with me and babbled on about how her kids don’t go to public school because she doesn’t believe in evolution, I couldn’t help but laugh in her face, it was so mind-boggling. What’s next, you going to hold your breath and demand that gravity doesn’t exist either? Argue that the sky isn’t blue? The sun revolves around the earth? Stop it! You’re making my head hurt! LOL It’s funny to just read about it but when an individual actually says it, it’s just so pathetic and ridiculous.

  5. PBS just aired a two-hour special NOVA production…
    “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” which follows the celebrated federal case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District.


    More Info from NOVA About Intelligent Design

    In 2004, the Dover PA. school board ordered science teachers to read a statement to high school biology students suggesting that there is an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution called intelligent design—the idea that life is too complex to have evolved naturally and therefore must have been designed by an intelligent agent. The teachers refused to comply. (For more on this, see Board vs. Teachers at web link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/boardvsteachers.html ) Later, parents opposed to intelligent design filed a lawsuit (Kitzmiller v. Dover School District) in federal court accusing the school board of violating the constitutional separation of church and state.

    U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III ultimately decided AGAINST intelligent design — Judge John E. Jones III concluded that intelligent design is religious and that its inclusion in public school violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

    Judge John E. Jones III ruled that:
    –ID is NOT science
    –ID is the progeny of creationism
    –Evolutionary theory is not antithetical to religion
    –The disclaimer Dover wanted read to students is flawed
    –The goal of the ID movement is to foment a revolution
    –It is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution

    (Read the details of Judge Jones excerpts from his historic decision.) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/judg-nf.html

    As part of his decision, Judge Jones ordered the Dover school board to pay legal fees and damages, which were eventually set at $1 million.

    The Judge Speaks Transcript
    –ID is not science
    After a searching review of the record and applicable case law, we find that while intelligent design arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, intelligent design is not science. We find that intelligent design fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that intelligent design is science. They are: (1) intelligent design violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to intelligent design, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) intelligent design’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. It is additionally important to note that intelligent design has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.

    –ID is the progeny of creationism
    The evidence at trial demonstrates that intelligent design is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. What is likely the strongest evidence supporting the finding of intelligent design’s creationist nature is the history and historical pedigree of the book to which students in Dover’s ninth-grade biology class are referred, Of Pandas and People. Pandas is published by an organization called FTE, as noted, whose articles of incorporation and filings with the Internal Revenue Service describe it as a religious, Christian organization. Pandas was written by Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis, both acknowledged creationists, and Nancy Pearcey, a Young Earth Creationist, contributed to the work.

    –Evolutionary theory is not antithetical to religion
    Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of intelligent design make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

    –The disclaimer Dover wanted read to students is flawed
    The disclaimer written by the Dover School Board singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forego scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere.

    –The goal of the ID movement is to foment a revolution
    Intelligent design, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents’ as well as Defendants’ argument that to introduce intelligent design to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum. Moreover, intelligent design’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not intelligent design itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the intelligent-design movement is not to encourage critical thought but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with intelligent design.

    –It is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution
    We do not question that many of the leading advocates of intelligent design have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that intelligent design should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

  6. FL Legislative News says:

    –A U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION–of Seperation of Church and State

    This is A FLORIDA CRIMINAL OFFENSE IF VIOLATED by Teachers & School Board Members, who are elected government officials.

    How? Most school board members take an oath in which they swear—as public officials—to uphold state and federal laws. Florida School Board Members and Teachers (seeking certification) take an OATH TO UPHOLD THE US CONSTITUTION and have solemn duty to obey the law.

    In fact, Boards of Education and administrators both are expected to stay aware and informed of what the law provides.

    “Intelligent Design” has a LEGAL ruling of VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE by Federal Judge John E. Jones III who concluded that intelligent design IS RELIGIOUS.

    NOTE: Florida teachers seeking certification take an OATH TO UPHOLD THE US CONSTITUTION.

    2007 Florida Statutes
    Title XLVIII K-20 EDUCATION CODE Chapter 1012

    1012.56 Educator certification requirements.–

    (2) ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA.–To be eligible to seek certification, a person must:

    (b) File an affidavit that the applicant subscribes to and will UPHOLD the principles incorporated in THE CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES and the Constitution of the State of Florida and that the information provided in the application is true, accurate, and complete. The affidavit shall be by original signature or by electronic authentication.
    The affidavit shall include substantially the following warning:

    WARNING: Giving false information in order to obtain or renew a Florida educator’s certificate is a criminal offense under Florida law. Anyone giving false information on this affidavit is subject to criminal prosecution as well as disciplinary action by the Education Practices Commission.


    View Entire Chapter

  7. A Florida Citizen says:

    I just saw an excellent show on PBS about the subject of “Intelligent Design” and how local citizens of Dover PA sued their school board (Kitzmiller v. Dover) and WON!

    The Judge ordered the Dover school board to pay legal fees and damages, which were eventually set at $1 million.

    You can watch it online at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/program.html

    The Polk School Board should be made aware of this case.

  8. Science Watchdog says:

    Right-wing religious types always ask, Why is evolution taught as fact if it’s “just a theory?”

    They say, maybe Darwinism is the prevalent theory out there today but it is a theory. It isn’t a law of science. It isn’t you know a fact. It is a theory.

    To say it’s just a theory is really a bit insulting to science, because in science, a theory holds more weight than just a fact does.

    The term “theory” again, has to be looked at the way scientists consider it. A theory is not just something that we think of in the middle of the night after too much coffee and not enough sleep. That’s an idea.

    A theory, in science, means a large body of information that’s withstood a lot of testing. It probably consists of a number of different hypotheses, many different lines of evidence.

    Facts are just the minutiae of science. By themselves, they can be right or wrong. But, a theory is something that has been tested and tested over and over again, built on, revised. It continues to be reworked and revised.

    Science is about discovering the unknown. What we don’t know. I don’t focus on what we know as a scientist. I want to find new things that tell me about what I don’t know. that quest to investigate the unknown has led to the discovery of some of the strongest evidence for evolution.

    Darwin was convinced that species evolve over time—through natural selection acting on inherited traits. But he had no idea how those traits arose—or how they were passed from generation to generation.

    When 20th century scientists discovered the role DNA plays in heredity, they founded a new science called genetics—that put Darwin’s theory to the test.

    Virtually every cell in every living thing contains chromosomes—which are made of densely packed strands of DNA that function as a blueprint of the individual organism’s characteristics.

    During reproduction, chromosomes from each parent replicate and shuffle their parts to produce new chromosomes.

    Then, each parent passes one chromosome to offspring.

    But the process is imperfect.

    Along the way, DNA is subject to random mutations—or mistakes – which give each offspring its own unique blueprint.

    Sometimes this produces characteristics in offspring that are benign.

    Other times it produces harmful characteristics—like a misshapen wing.

    But occasionally, the process gives rise to a beneficial trait—for example, a butterfly whose coloration mimics another species that tastes bad to birds.

    About a hundred years after Darwin proposed that natural selection acts on new traits appearing in a population, genetics revealed the biological mechanism that gives rise to those traits in the first place.

    Therefore you might say that when modern genetics came into being everything in Darwin’s theory was at risk, could have been overturned if genetics turned out to contradict the essential elements of evolutionary theory, but it didn’t contradict them, it COMFIRMED EVOLUTION in great detail.

    A genetics paper published confirmed what has long been the most inflammatory part of Darwin’s theory:—the common ancestry of humans and apes, says Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller who has a Evolution Resources website: http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/

    That paper explored a curious discrepancy in our chromosomes.

    The cells of all great apes—like chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans—contain 24 pairs of chromosomes.

    If humans share a common ancestor with apes, you’d expect us to have the same number. But surprisingly, human cells contain only 23 pairs.

    The question is, if evolution is right about this common ancestry idea, where’d the chromosome go? Well, evolution makes a testable prediction, and that is, somewhere in the human genome we ought to be able to find a piece of Scotch tape holding together two chromosomes so that our 24 pairs -two of them was pasted together to form just 23. And if we can’t find that, then the hypothesis of common ancestry is wrong and evolution is mistaken.

    Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller stated scientists discovered remnants of our evolutionary past buried in the very structure of a chromosome carried by all humans.

    If all is normal, on the ends of every chromosome you should find special genetic markers, or sequences of DNA, called telomeres.

    And in their middles, you should find different genetic markers called centromeres.

    But if a mutation occurred in the past causing two pairs of chromosomes to fuse—we should remnants of those genetic markers: telomeres not only at the ends of the new chromosome, but also at its middle.

    And not one, but two centromeres.

    Finding a structure like this in our chromosomes would explain why humans have one pair fewer than the great apes.

    Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller stated, if we don’t find that, then evolution is in trouble. Lo and behold, the answer is in Chromosome Number 2. All of the marks of the fusion of those chromosomes predicted by common descent and evolution, all those marks are present on human Chromosome Number 2.

    So the case is closed in a most beautiful way, and that is, the prediction of evolution of common ancestry is fulfilled by that lead-pipe evidence that you see here in terms of tying everything together, that our chromosome formed by the fusion from our common ancestor is Chromosome Number 2. Evolution has made a testable prediction and it has passed.

    So modern genetics and molecular biology actually support evolutionary theory?

    They support it in great detail. And the closer that we can get to looking at the details of the human genome, the more powerfulthe evidence has become.

    Darwin didn’t even know about molecular biology and DNA, yet that’s where some of the most profound evidence is being uncovered today. Think about that. That somebody in the 1800s made predictions that are being confirmed in molecular biology labs today. That’s a very profound statement of a very successful theory.

    Not a single observation, not a single experimental result, has ever emerged in 150 years that contradicts the general outlines of the theory of evolution. Any theory that can stand up to 150 years of contentious testing is a pretty darn good theory, and that’s what evolution is.

    And the deep understanding of evolution as proposed by Darwin has, with genetics, unlocked many of the secrets of life.

    It’s an explanatory framework within which all the rest of biology fits. It’s something that we use in practical biological applications. Medicine, agriculture, industry. When you’re getting a flu vaccine, that really depended upon evolutionary knowledge. In many, many specific ways, evolution makes a practical difference. It’s not just something that happened in the past, evolution’s happening now.

    To learn more about how genetics confirms evolution you can contact:

    Kenneth R. Miller
    Professor of Biology
    Box G-L211
    Brown University
    Providence, Rhode Island 02912
    Office: Sidney Frank Hall 211
    Laboratory: Biomedical Center 273
    Telephone: 401-863-3410
    e-mail: Kenneth_Miller@Brown.edu

    Visit Kenneth Miller’s Evolution Resources website: http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/

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  10. John says:

    It really disgusts me to see this repeating itself again. How many times do people have to be told that evolution is a theory just as strong as gravity?
    And how many times do the underlying principles of (un)intelligent design have to be disproved?

    I think the worst crime in the world today that can be perpetrated is willful ignorance. To say that intelligent design is anything approaching a scientific, testable, empirical theory is to be willfully ignorant / deliberately stupid.

    To those willfully ignorant:
    Please!!! Educate yourselves!! Don’t be morons your whole lives!! If you believe God gave you a brain, USE IT!
    A start would be to try to learn about evolution -> find out for yourself what evolution means and why it’s such a solid theory! 5 minutes on Wikipedia would do for a start!
    Those same five minutes can also be used in a simple thought experiment: if the design of creatures on earth can only be explained by an intelligent designer, who created the intelligent designer? The whole foundation of ID is bootstrappingly illogical, contradictory, and unscientific!!
    But don’t take my word for it, work it out yourself! USE YOUR BRAIN!!! Reject dogma – even just for a second! – and see where it leads you! That’s what science is all about!!!

    My rant aside:

    I also think that everyone should watch the PBS documentary. It provides great insight into what this whole mess is about and what happened the last time a stunt like this was pulled:


    More Info from NOVA About Intelligent Design

  11. Jer says:

    I’m so glad I don’t live anywhere near Polk county, I wouldn’t want my child to be disadvantaged by ignorant and spiteful christians trying to make their last stand in the face of impending marginalization. ID is mysticism, plain and simple and that has no place in school except maybe in a class on philosophy or folklore.

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