Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District

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Dover Panda Trial

The "Dover Panda Trial" is the term that has come to be popularly used (ala. "Scopes Monkey Trial") when referring to the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Intelligent Design case.

The Trial

Background

In January of 2005, teachers at Dover High School, near York, PA, began being required to read a statement to ninth-grade biology students concerning the perceived "holes" in Darwin's theory of Evolution. The Dover Board of Education had voted on November 14, 2004 by a margin of 6-3 to require the reading by teachers of a statement that evolution was "just a theory," and that resources concerning alternate views on the development of life (including Intelligent Design) were available in the school library.

The three board members who voted against the measure resigned in protest. Science teachers who were supposed to read the statement refused, citing the Pennsylvania Code of Education, which restricts teachers from teaching information they believe to be false. In the end school administrators had to be brought in to read the following statement:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.

As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.

The school board claimed that it did not teach Intelligent Design, it only made students aware of it as an alternative to the theory of Evolution, which the board members perceived to be full of holes. The board further stated that Intelligent Design was not "religion in disguise." Despite it's insistence that its decision was not religiously motivated, the board was represented in court by the Thomas Moore Law Center, a not-for-profit Christian law center that is the self proclaimed "...sword and shield of people of faith."


Transcripts

Transcripts of the court proceedings may be found on the James Randi Educational Foundation website.

JREF

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