Re: [asa] Re: 7th Circuit Decision

From: PvM <>
Date: Sat Jun 30 2007 - 19:04:10 EDT

k. things seem a bit clearer now. 5 books, including Johnson's Darwin
on Trial and Behe's Black Box.

From and
various other resources it seems that indeed I was correct in my hunch
that this was an attempt to introduce 'intelligent design' resources
into the library and that the library correctly rejected these
donations as unsuitable to the science curriculum.

<quote>At the time, we didn't realize that the motive behind the
parent's book donations was to include intelligent design in the
science curriculum. Free books or not, our district's gift policy
states that all donations intended for instructional use must meet
certain selection criteria—they must support the curriculum, receive
favorable reviews from professional journals, and be

Seems reasonable as a standard.

In other words, there appear to be two sides to this story.

Even the ALA story appears a bit more balanced, correctly identifying
the books as creationist resources.

<quote>Posted December 18, 2000.
Minnesota School Board Refuses
Donation of Creationist Books

The board of the Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley school district has
declined a gift of two creationist titles that an area resident has
been proffering to the high-school library since 1997. Accepting
Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson and Darwin's Black Box by Michael
J. Behe "as a science resource, we thought, was disingenuous," Roger
Everhart, a teacher at Apple Valley's School of Environmental Studies
explained after the board's December 12 decision.

Frustrated donor Mike Steiner said in the December 13 St. Paul Pioneer
Press that district media specialists and science teachers "lobbied by
saying it wasn't book-banning, which obviously I think it was."

Noting that an advisory committee of educators and parents had
previously concluded that Darwin on Trial was suitable for the
high-school collection, Steiner said that the district's written
policies encouraging the use of viewpoint-balanced materials "do not
exist in practice."

Posted December 18, 2000.</quote>

David suggested that "The American Library Association later
officially listed the district as a book banning district.". I would
like to see some additional references for that. Perhaps David can
help out here?

I will be stitching together this story based on the minutes from the
school board as well as othe resources. It seems to me that the
situation may very well show how the school board indeed has the power
to regulate what books go into the library, even if some may consider
this to be 'viewpoint discrimination'.

Creation Books in Library
Dakota County: A parent in School District 196 (Rosemount-Apple
Valley-Eagan) has been trying to donate copies of 2 `intelligent
design` books, Darwin on Trial and Darwin's Black Box, to all of the
district's secondary school media centers. The donations were rejected
by district media specialists because the books do not match criteria
of appropriateness and usefulness in support of the biology
curriculum. In September 2000, following the district's appeal
process, a reconsideration committee made up of parents, students, and
teachers voted 7-6 to accept Darwin on Trial and 6-6 to reject
Darwin's Black Box. These actions were appealed to the Board of
Education by the parent and by groups of media specialists and science
teachers. A teacher in the district told NCSE that the decision is not
expected to have an impact on the way teachers present evolution.

February 13, 2001


<quote>Superintendent Haro reported that, on September 26 the
district's Reconsideration Review Committee met to consider a request
by Michael Steiner of Apple Valley to have two books added to high
school media centers. The committee voted to accept the book Darwin on
Trial, by Phillip Johnson, and not to accept the book Darwin's Black
Box, by Michael Behe. Anyone wanting to appeal these decisions of the
Reconsideration Review Committee must do so within 10 working days of
the October 23 board meeting.</quote>

However that was a short lived 'victory'

Michael O'Sullivan, media generalist at Rosemount High School,
introduced Jane Copes, a District 196 parent employed at the Science
Museum of Minnesota. Copes expressed her concerns as a scientist about
the possibility of having the book Darwin's Black Box in the high
school media centers.

Nancy Schueller, librarian at Diamond Path Elementary School, read a
statement from Pat Sween, retired Dean of Students at Twin Bluff
Middle School in Red Wing, Minnesota. Sween asked board members to
consider the statements presented and not include the books Darwin's
Black Box or Darwin on Trial in the high school media centers.

Roselyn Bencivenga, media generalist at Dakota Hills Middle School,
introduced Mark Hanlon, a District 196 parent, who recommended the
board not place the book Darwin on Trial in the high school media

Connie O'Sullivan, media generalist at Eastview High School,
introduced District 196 parent Frank Sachs, who read a statement from
David Sawyer, minister of Spirit of Life Presbyterian congregation
arguing that the book Darwin on Trial should not be in the high school

Joan Drier, media generalist at Black Hawk Middle School, introduced
Dawn Clausen, biology representative to the Board of Directors of the
Minnesota Science Teachers Association, who spoke about why the books
Darwin's Black Box and Darwin on Trial should not be in the high
school libraries.

Katherine Sukovich, media generalist at Apple Valley High School,
introduced Dr. Eric Olson, an eye physician in the Twin Cities, who
expressed concerns about the work of the authors of Darwin's Black Box
and Darwin on Trial.

Roger Everhart, science teacher at the School of Environmental
Studies, introduced Dr. Craig Packer, professor of biology at the
University of Minnesota, who commented on the books Darwin's Black Box
and Darwin on Trial not being valid science resources.

Michael Steiner, Apple Valley, shared his perspectives on the U. S.
Constitution and district policy in relation to not accepting the
books Darwin's Black Box and Darwin on Trial in the district's high
school libraries.

Jim Roberts, parent and teacher in District 196, spoke about his
teaching experiences in the White Bear Lake School District and why he
moved to District 196.

Matthew Dunham, Eagan, summarized Board Policy 603, Instructional
Resources, that he said was used as the standard for the evaluation of
the books Darwin's Black Box and Darwin on Trial.

Steve Wilson, Rosemount, talked about his involvement with the
Citizens for Accountable Responsible Education (CARE) group, his
perspective on the defeat of the levy referendum, and the need to move
forward by working with the board and developing a long-range

Laura Nagel, media specialist at Eagan High School, introduced Steven
Filipas, a District 196 parent, who shared his opposition to having
the two books, Darwin's Black Box and Darwin on Trial, in the high
school media centers.

Veda Kanitz, science teacher at Rosemount High School, introduced Ed
Hessler, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Sciences
Foundation and executive secretary of the Minnesota Science Teachers
Association, who explained why he does not support including Darwin's
Black Box and Darwin on Trial in the high school media centers.

<quote> Mike Steiner says his conflict with the
Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley school district traces its origins to a
1996 open house at Rosemount High School.

    He asked a science teacher about the methods used to teach the
theory of evolution. After two answers he thought were evasive, he
asked a third time. He says the teacher told him, ``I teach it as
scientific fact.''

    That didn't sit well with Steiner, who thinks it should be taught
as a theory. Eventually, Steiner's inquires into science instruction
in District 196 led to his ongoing effort to get two books questioning
evolution onto the district's high school library shelves.

Steiner is still trying, and he calls the situation
"anti-intellectualism." He wants Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box and
Phillip Johnson's Darwin on Trial in the library.

    Last spring, media specialists at District 196's four high schools
were called together by district administrators to decide whether to
accept Steiner's gift of the books to the high schools. The media
specialists looked at books already on the shelves, studied reviews of
the two books in several journals and then decided not to accept them,
said Mike O'Sullivan, media specialist at Rosemount High School.

    "They were not well-received in the scientific literature,'' he
said. The books received mixed reviews in other literary journals, he
added, and one of them was described as best suited for an advanced
academic audience.

Steiner also noticed in 1998 that his child's biology text book did
not mention that evolution was a "theory." The school district has
assured him that evolution was being taught as a theory.

Steiner is now on District 196's curriculum advisory committee, having
taken over the spot by a retiring member. </quote>

Title: Selection or censorship: libraries and the intelligent design debate
Author(s): Michael K. O'Sullivan, Connie J. O'Sullivan
Journal: Library Review
ISSN: 0024-2535
Year: 2007 Volume: 56 Issue: 3 Page: 200 - 207
DOI: 10.1108/00242530710735984
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Abstract: Purpose – To examine the strategies of the intelligent
design (ID) movement and their impact on the selection policies for
high school libraries and the science curriculum.
Design/methodology/approach – Examines the process four public high
school libraries in the US took to determine whether to accept a gift
offer by a parent of two books, dealing with ID. This article deals
with the importance of applying selection criteria to all materials,
whether gifts or recommendations.
Findings – School libraries are not immune to the tactics used by the
ID movement to influence curriculum and collection development
Research limitations/implications – While this article is a case
history of the ID movement's strategy to influence school curriculum,
its implications and possible impact on other schools and their
Practical implications – Provides advice to practicing school
librarians on what criteria to use when selecting materials and poses
the question of who should be involved in selecting materials for the
school library.
Originality/value – This article explores the critical aspects and the
differences between selection and censorship. Emphasizes the
importance of having and following board-approved policies that deal
with gifts and the selection of library and instructional materials.

On 6/30/07, PvM <> wrote:
> I am still somewhat confused as to the exact circumstances. It seems
> that the issue was science and how to present it? In that case, it
> seems that rejecting religious perspectives is quite within the realm
> of possibilities. Could you tell me which book was rejected and for
> what purpose?
> Without further details it is hard to argue one way or the other.
> Nevertheless, it is safe to reiterate that religious viewpoints on
> scientific issues can be rejected in a science curriculum without a
> risk of violating the establishment clause of the constitution.
> Lacking further details, it's hard to say who is 'right' and 'wrong' here.
> Is there any chance that you can provide us with sufficient details to
> allow us to draw our own conclusions?
> On 6/30/07, David Clounch <> wrote:
> > The facts are this: The book was rejected because the author said in one
> > line of the book (and I am paraphrasing the book) "that his purpose for
> > writing the book was to argue for the validity of a Christian world view".
> > This line was specifically cited by officials in front of TV cameras as the
> > reason for rejecting the book.
> >
> > Other related tidbits:
> >
> > A school board member later said "why can't we have these books on the
> > philosophy shelf?"
> >
> > The American Library Association later officially listed the district as a
> > book banning district.
> >
> > Keep in mind this is a district that had something sort of odd contained
> > within one high school's official science curriculum guidelines. The
> > guidelines called for bringing shamans and other various non-Christian
> > religious figures into the science classroom as guest speakers to explain
> > certain theories of origins.
> >
> > I won't go into all the details of how it came about, but a member of the
> > district curriculum committee investigated and took a deposition from
> > teachers at that high school. Because I was curious I sat in on the entire
> > deposition. The rule was that, as a member of the public, I wasn't allowed
> > to say anything. I just observed and took copious notes. They went over
> > the various books used in that science course. This took 5-1/2 hours in two
> > sessions. On the subject of Christianity, and presenting the Christian
> > views on origins, the teachers showed a book titled "Ishmael". I haven't
> > read this book, but I know students who have. Ishmael is said to be a
> > telepathic ape who lived from the dawn of time through modern times. (Does
> > this make him immortal? An immortal telepathic ape. Hmmm). Anyway, Ishmael
> > reports on his observations of the "tension" between Christianity and
> > western civilization throughout western history. And thats the viewpoint of
> > Christianity as told by that school!!!!
> >
> > I did ask afterwards why they were covering this material in science class.
> > I do not feel I received a satisfactory answer.
> >
> > On 6/29/07, PvM <> wrote:
> > > As I have explained earlier, the ruling basically considers atheism or
> > > non-religion on the same footing as religion for purpose of the 1st
> > > amendment. So when dealing with the establishment clause, the court
> > > will have to look at the impact to determine if there is a first
> > > amendment violation.
> > > In case of the prisoner, he was treated differently from other
> > > religious groups without a valid secular purpose. In other words, then
> > > can be valid secular purposes for restricting based on religious
> > > content.
> > > This comes in play when discussing the 'banning' of books from school
> > > libraries. Schools have quite some leeway in rejecting books from
> > > their library or even remove books from their library. For instance,
> > > there may be a valid secular purpose of removing pseudo scientific
> > > books. So without understanding the details surrounding the case David
> > > vaguely refers to, (Rosemount?) it is hard to determine if the actions
> > > of the school board are indeed valid.
> > > For instance, when it comes to science, schools may very well reject
> > > pseudo science, especially when based on religious foundations, when
> > > teaching for instance about the age of the earth or the evolution of
> > > life on earth.
> > > In this case, not only is evolutionary science a valid secular
> > > purpose, it is also not a preferentially religious position, although
> > > it may conflict with some extreme religious viewpoints.
> > > Most science is by virtue of it being science 'a-religious' or
> > > agnostic, and while this may be seen as some as preferential to
> > > atheists, it fails as a compelling argument because science has
> > > nothing to say about religious beliefs and in fact many religious
> > > people have no problem accepting the science of evolution.
> > > In other words, even though the government has to be 'neutral' it can,
> > > when it comes to for instance science education, insist that science
> > > is being taught and that religious interpretations are to be avoided.
> > > This means that creationist tracts and other books about the
> > > 'controversy' can be safely removed from the curriculum or banned from
> > > the curriculum.
> > > This may appear to give preference to atheists but as I have shown,
> > > this is an erroneous argument based on at least two principles 1)
> > > evolutionary science is not necessarily atheistic 2) evolutionary
> > > science serves a valid secular purpose and thus cannot be seen as
> > > violating the establishment clause.
> > >
> > > As far as the flyer case is concerned, there is, once again,
> > > insufficient data to draw much of any conclusion.
> > > Safely to say though that the rulings that for first amendment
> > > purposes non-religions are included as religions is not surprising,
> > > given the neutrality viewpoint. Of course, that does not mean that
> > > thus when science is taught, religious viewpoints should be given a
> > > similar scientific status, on the contrary, the supreme court and
> > > other judicial rulings show clearly that religious viewpoints can be
> > > surpressed legitimately.
> > >
> > >
> > > But I am still not certain where David is going with these quotes.
> > > Perhaps he can present his argument in a clear format? So far, his
> > > interpretations, or at least my best attempts to understand his
> > > interpretations, of 1st amendment case law as it pertains to the
> > > establishment clause, seems rather atypical of the more common
> > > interpretations, in full context.
> > >
> > > David, could you do us all a favor and present us what you believe
> > > these rulings mean? For instance, do you believe that it is
> > > unconstitutional to reject Intelligent Design as an alternative
> > > 'explanation' of evolution? What is constitutionally acceptable and
> > > unacceptable in your opinion? That non religion is given establishment
> > > clause protection seems quite interesting though, this may have quite
> > > some unexpected consequences.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On 6/29/07, David Clounch < > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > The Supreme Court has recognized atheism as equivalent
> > > > to a "religion" for purposes of the First Amendment on
> > > > numerous occasions, most recently in McCreary County, Ky.
> > > > v. American Civil Liberties Union of Ky., 125 S.Ct. 2722
> > > > (2005). The Establishment Clause itself says only that
> > > > "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
> > > > of religion," but the Court understands the reference to
> > > > religion to include what it often calls "nonreligion." In
> > > > McCreary County, it described the touchstone of
> > > > Establishment Clause analysis as "the principle that the
> > > > First Amendment mandates government neutrality between
> > > > religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion."
> > > >
> > > > - 7th
> > Circuit
> > > > Court
> > > >
> > > > In my school district the school board and administration officials
> > argue
> > > > that the first amendment calls for them to ban books that explain the
> > > > Christian world view (even if its only one sentence in the book). But
> > books
> > > > that explain non-religious world-views (non-religion) are ok, and in
> > fact
> > > > are protected. This is a common misunderstanding held by many people.
> > And my
> > > > school board is a subset of folks who happen to have that
> > misunderstanding
> > > > but who also have the power to act on it. And indeed have acted on it.
> > > > Would anybody like to see the video tape? They ban books based on the
> > > > content of the books. But only pro-religious books are banned. Another
> > > > book, objected to by parents because it tells elementary children about
> > > > deviant sexual practices such as necrophila, was defended by board
> > members
> > > > as being protected by the First Amendment.
> > > >
> > > > Many parents in the district consider this banning of "religion only"
> > to
> > > > have the effect of a preference of non-religion. It is difficult to
> > see
> > > > how this preference amounts to neutrality.
> > > >
> > > > The district has a history of non-neutral banishment of religion,
> > > > particularly of Christianity. For example, the district historically had
> > a
> > > > backpack flyer policy that allowed all extra-curricular after school
> > > > programs to notify students and parents of after school events. The
> > > > superintendent, John Haro, decided that Christianity must be excluded,
> > and
> > > > he banned the one church group that was providing flyers to invite
> > students
> > > > to their after school sports program. It is said the district's own
> > > > attorney advised this banning would lose in court. A local group
> > challenged
> > > > the new policy. Approximately 18 months went by with the ban still in
> > > > effect. When the North Star Legal Center filed federal lawsuit Haro
> > > > relented, but only after suit was filed. Then he banned flyers from all
> > > > groups equally. Just to get rid of the Christians. While technically
> > > > banning all groups (sailing club? chess club) is neutral, clearly Haro
> > did
> > > > not intend to be neutral in the sense of the cited principle. A
> > principle
> > > > which itself comes from U S Supreme Court cases. (Sorry, I dont have
> > time
> > > > to quote that case tonight because I really would like to quote the
> > entire
> > > > case in context so readers can just read it and make up their own minds
> > > > about what it actually says. The above pink background
> > paragraph/fragment is
> > > > not out of context because the entire establishment clause argument of
> > the
> > > > 7th Circuit appears in this thread as one contiguous series of
> > postings.)
> > >
> >
> >

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Received on Sat, 30 Jun 2007 16:04:10 -0700

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