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April 17, 2006

Judge in Landmark 'Intelligent Design' Case to Speak at Smith College

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Federal District Court Judge John E. Jones, who last year ruled it unconstitutional to teach “intelligent design” alongside the theory of evolution in public schools, will speak at Smith College at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. A reception will follow in Neilson Library Browsing Room

Jones’ talk caps an event focusing on ethical dilemmas facing teachers of students in Kindergarten through Grade 12. Free and open to the public, the event also includes a panel discussion among Massachusetts teachers at 4 p.m. in the Neilson Library Browsing Room.

Four months ago, Jones decided the landmark case that attracted international attention when he ruled the school board in the town of Dover, Penn., had violated the constitutional ban on teaching religion in schools. A group of parents successfully argued that teaching “intelligent design” was effectively teaching creationism, which is banned.

President George W. Bush highlighted the issues facing teachers when he commented on the case, saying “Both sides [of the evolution debate] ought to be properly taught … so that people can understand what the debate is about. Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought.”

Jones, a 2002 Bush appointee, has presided over several other noteworthy cases during his short time on the bench, including one concerning the right to free speech. In 2003, he struck down portions of Shippenburg University’s speech code as violations of the First Amendment guarantee.

Born and raised in a coal-mining region of northeastern Pennsylvania, Jones graduated from Dickinson College and the Dickinson School of Law at The Pennsylvania State University.

Prior to Jones’ lecture, four K-12 teachers will participate in the 4 p.m. panel titled “Ethics and Education: Knowledge, Teaching and Individual Conscience.”

They are:

Elizabeth Cooney, Smith Class of 1984, a fifth-grade teacher at the Smith College Campus School;

Mary Cowhey, Smith Class of 1997, a first- and second-grade teacher at Jackson Street School, Northampton;

Amy Dickson, Smith Master of Arts in Teaching Program, 2003, a biology teacher at Prospect Hill Academy School, Cambridge, Mass.;

Lara Ramsey, sixth-grade teacher at Smith College Campus School.

This event is sponsored by the Smith Departments of Philosophy and Education and Child Study.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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