Some good news out of Ohio: One of its public school districts recently announced that creationism and other region-based ideas will not be taught in science classes.
Starting now, by order of Youngstown Schools Chief Executive Officer Crish Mohip, science curricula in Youngstown must follow the 344-page science standards developed by the Ohio Department of Education. Those standards do not include any religious dogma.
Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, “any reference to intelligent design, creationism, or any like concepts are eliminated from the science curriculum,” states Mohip’s memo on the matter.
Mohip also noted that classroom materials, including videos or books containing these “objectionable concepts” have been removed.
This is all very good news because public schools should never force overtly religious ideas, like creationism, onto students. But what prompted Mohip’s memo?
Evolution is the only explanation for the origins of life on Earth that should be taught in public schools.
Thanks to some digging by sound science activist and Americans United ally Zack Kopplin, it came to light in May that recommended curriculum for 10th graders in Youngstown public schools included a video called “Cambrian Fossils and the Creation of Species.”
The video claims it has evidence that “totally invalidates the theory of evolution.” It then proceeds to put forth an old and unconvincing assertion that a rapid increase in the number of new species on Earth starting around 500 million years ago proves creationist accounts.
But it gets worse. The video was made by a controversial evangelist in Turkey who collects young woman followers and has been accused of being a Holocaust denier. Kopplin, however, noted that the video has minimal Islamic content despite its source. At the beginning of the presentation, a screen flashes momentarily that says “this film is based on the works of Harun Yahya.” A small gold bubble also appears that says, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” in Arabic.
Harun Yahya’s real name is Adnan Oktar, and he’s a Turkish TV preacher and ardent creationist who has written numerous books. In 2007, he sent copies of his book Atlas of Creation to a number of political figures and scientists in the United States.
Oktar may also have penned The Holocaust Deception: The Hidden Story of Nazi-Zionist Collaboration and the Inner Story of the Hoax of “Jewish Holocaust.” He says he didn’t actually write that tome; instead, Oktar claims someone else wrote it under his name. It’s hard to say what really happened, but that’s a pretty bizarre explanation.
When it comes to Oktar, however, bizarre is typical. He owns a Turkish television channel where he broadcasts his unusual version of Islam. During his broadcasts, young women in tight clothes and fake blonde hair assist him in advancing his agenda. The women refer to him as “master” and Oktar calls them his “kittens.” As Slate reported previously, Oktar claims the women’s attractiveness is evidence of creationism.
Clearly material produced by Oktar is not appropriate for any public school science class. Yet, several months ago Timothy Filipovich, executive director of teaching and learning for Youngstown schools, didn’t really seem to have a problem with presenting creationism and similar concepts in science courses. Students “have to be able to determine the merit and flaws of the resources and evidence to support one argument or the other,” he told the Youngstown Vindicator at the time.
Fortunately, Mohip took a firmer stand and kicked creationism from his classrooms. It was the right move. After all, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the teaching of creationism in public schools in 1987.
It seems not everyone got the high court’s memo, so Mohip issued one of his own. Let’s hope any rogue science teacher who ignores this latest directive will be taught a lesson.