Friday, September 15, 2006


Ohio: Sawyer Statement on Controversial Issues Template

Tom Sawyer, a pro-science candidate running against creationist Deborah Owens Fink issued the following statement about the so-called "Controversial Issues Template," an effort by fundamentalists to sow doubt about evolution, global warming, and stem cell research.
For too long my opponent has devoted her time and energy to divisive, disruptive and distracting issues instead of concentrating on the core mission of the State Board of Education – educating. This past week's events again show the price we pay for her misplaced priorities. The Board spent part of its monthly meeting hearing comments on a "Controversial Issues Template" which is a direct outgrowth of my opponent's past crusades.

I am pleased that the Board dispensed with this unfortunate business fairly quickly. Regrettably, the matter remains in the Achievement Committee where it may again be used to sidetrack the Board.

The scientific community has voiced its dissatisfaction with reportedly thousands of phone calls plus a number of people who testified against the proposal. Clearly, some members of the Committee tried to strike a more neutral tone in revising the document, but serious flaws remain in the document and my opponent's past actions have generated the atmosphere of distrust that now pervades this debate.

As a member of the State Board of Education, I would seek the counsel of academic scientists for guidance about how to craft science teaching standards. Science and technology are the engines of Ohio's economic future. We need to respect the opinions of those most experienced in teaching the next generation of scientists.

In this race, I intend to engage the voters in a wide-ranging conversation about how best to secure stable funding for our schools, how to move toward a more rigorous curriculum and how to reform the governing structure for our school system. I believe the State Board of Education has untapped potential for leadership and advocacy as we work to create a public education system for the next century.

I challenge my opponent to join in that discussion. But I fear that she is too devoted to her narrow agenda to discuss what truly matters in this race.


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