Kitzmiller vs. Dover: Intelligent Design

Once again here is another post I wrote for work concerning Kitzmiller vs. Dover and intelligent design.

The Kitzmiller vs. Dover case was fought in 2005 after the Dover, PA Area School District Board decided that all Dover public school teachers would be required to read a statement to students before the biology unit was taught that stated that there were “gaps and problems” with Darwin’s Theory. This statement concerned intelligent design (ID). The case was also the first of its kind and drew both national and international attention.

The case has its origins in 2004 when the Dover, PA Area School District board member Bill Buckingham requested that a text book teaching intelligent design be added to the public school science program. Originally the school board decided against Buckingham’s request and forgoing the adoption of the text book. Unfortunately Buckingham, along with the Curriculum Committee, didn’t give up. Instead of backing down Buckingham and the Curriculum Committee drafted a policy mandating that before ever biology unit involving evolution, the students or the teachers would be required to read a statement stating that there were “gaps and problems” with evolutional theory. The Dover Board voted in Buckingham’s favor and announced on November 9th, 2004 that the town’s science teachers would be required to read the statement to their students and that copies of the intelligent design text book would be available to students in school libraries.  The public school teachers decided they would have none of this. In response the teachers wrote and delivered a response in the form of a memo to Dover School Superintendent Richard Nilsen that stated that the teachers did not agree with the decision of the Dover Area School District. Their main concern was that they were required to read a statement to their students that were not scientifically proven and the concern that the students might confuse the legitimacy of intelligent design and that intelligent design was just as legitimate as evolutional theory. They also cited the Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators in those teachers were to uphold a professional standard while teaching in that accurate and factual material would be taught to the students. Intelligent design did not fall into this category and was considered inaccurate by the teachers.

On December 14, 2004 a group of parents filed suit against the board arguing that the promotion of intelligent design was an unconstitutional violation of separation of church and state and an unconstitutional promotion of religion. The legal case was tried in 2005 in the Harrisburg, PA Federal District Court. The plaintiffs and defendant presented expert testimony over the course of six weeks spanning from September 26 to November 4, 2005 and on December 20 Judge John E. Jones issued strongly worded ruling where he declared intelligent design was a form of creationism and, there for, a violation of the Constitution and separation of church and state.

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