Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
Dover Panda Trial
The "Dover Panda Trial" is the term that has come to be popularly used (à la "Scopes Monkey Trial") when referring to the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Intelligent Design case.
On October 18, 2004, the Dover Board of Education voted 6-3 to compel science teachers to inform students that evolution was "just a theory" and that resources containing 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 refused to comply, citing the Pennsylvania Code of Education which restricts teachers from teaching information they believe to be false. School administrators eventually fulfilled the School Board's requirement by reading 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 believed to be flawed. The board further stated that Intelligent Design was not "religion in disguise." Despite its insistence that its decision was not religiously motivated, the board was represented in court by the Thomas More Law Center, a not-for-profit Christian law center that is the self proclaimed "...sword and shield of people of faith."
The bench trial before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania began on September 26, 2005. On November 4, 2005, Judge John E. Jones III found in favor of the plaintiffs.
Transcripts of the court proceedings may be found on the James Randi Educational Foundation website.
Full text of the decision may be found on Wikisource, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.