correction for Poynter “White Paper”

On one specific point, I think the Poynter Center’s White Paper on “Intelligent Design, Science Education, and Public Reason” needs to be corrected.

At the beginning of its “Teach the Controversy” section, the White Paper (p. 21) says that

In response to questions about the teaching of intelligent design alongside that of evolutionary theory, in August 2005 President Bush said, “I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught…so people can understand what the debate is about.”[fn.] His comments surprised no one given that they are consistent with his No Child Left Behind Act, which encourages schools to teach the controversy surrounding biological evolution. [fn.: U.S. Congress. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-110, 107th Congress, Jan. 8, 2002. [Online] Available at:
http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/107-110.pdf.

This refers to the “Santorum Amendment” to NCLB, which was cut from the legislation before NCLB was passed by Congress and signed into law. Despite representations by ID advocates, NCLB actually does not mandate or “encourage” “teaching the controversy,” this is not part of the law. When I do a search on the linked pdf version of the statute; I don’t find any instance of “evolution” or “controversy.” See ‘The Truth about the “Santorum Amendment” Language on Evolution’ on Kenneth Miller’s website, and the DI’s opposing press release: “Biologist Ken Miller Flunks Political Science on Santorum.”

I have had a chance to read through the Poynter White Paper carefully now, which I commented on briefly here and here. While I still think (more confidently, now) that there remain deep problems with the current state of our response to the ID arguments that have not been surmounted in this White Paper (and which I won’t be able to write about until after this semester), I also feel more confident, after careful reading, in saying this is about the best treatment I have read of its length on the overall conflict as it stands today, and I am planning to assign this for my doctoral seminar next semester.

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