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NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2008/11/07

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(By NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch:)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

In Florida, the new state science standards may have to be reconsidered,
while the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, will be hosting a
multidisciplinary student conference on "Darwin's Legacy:  Evolution's
Impact on Science and Culture."


After a long and contentious wrangle, the Florida state board of education
voted 4-3 at its February 19, 2008, meeting to adopt a new set of state
science standards in which evolution is presented as a "fundamental concept
underlying all of biology."  But now there are concerns that, due to a
recent state law, the standards will have to be approved again.  The St.
Petersburg Times (November 6, 2008) explains, "The new law requires the
state Board of Education to adopt new academic standards by the end of
2011.  That may include a new set of science standards, because the Board
of Education adopted the latest standards a few months before the bill
passed and was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Crist."

It is not yet clear whether the standards will indeed have to be approved
again, but Brian Moore, a staff attorney, with the state legislature's
Joint Administrative Procedures Committee (which reviews the rules proposed
by state agencies to ensure that they are in compliance with state law),
told the department of education that he thought so.  According to
Education Week's curriculum blog (November 5, 2008), "It's possible, Moore
explained, that Florida's commissioner of education could seek to have
various experts certify that the recently approved science standards comply
with the Next Generation law.  But it appears likely that new standards
would have to be re-approved in some form by the state board of education."

If so, the prospect of a renewed fight over the treatment of evolution in
the standards looms.  "Hallelujah" was the response of Terry Kemple, who
opposed the treatment of evolution in the new standards.  "This is an
opportunity for both sides to step back and let this be a fairer endeavor,"
he said.  Brandon Haught of the grassroots organization Florida Citizens
for Science told the Times, "Maybe the legislators simply overlooked this
and there's a simple solution," adding that the group would "hope for the
best but plan for the worst."  For now, the situation remains uncertain.  A
spokesperson for the department of education told the Times, "We are
currently researching the matter so there are no specifics to offer at this

For the story in the St. Petersburg Times, visit:

For the story in Education Week's curriculum blog, visit:

For Florida Citizens for Science's website and blog, visit:

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit:


The Evolution Learning Community at the University of North Carolina,
Wilmington, will be hosting "Darwin's Legacy:  Evolution's Impact on
Science and Culture" -- a multidisciplinary student conference to be held
March 19-21, 2009.  The conference will be a unique opportunity for
undergraduate and graduate students in the natural sciences, social
sciences, humanities, and arts who are conducting research or creative
endeavors related to evolution to present their research, investigate
graduate study opportunities, network, enhance their CVs, and enrich the
body of knowledge surrounding evolution.  Abstracts are due on January 30,
2009; authors will be notified of acceptance by February 12, 2009.

Abstracts may be submitted to any of the following theme
sessions:  evolution and the social sciences; evolution and religion;
evolution and human uniqueness; economics of evolution and its
consequences; the biodiversity crisis and conservation; Darwin's impact on
art, music, and literature; sex and evolution; genomes, race, and medicine;
evolution and ethics; the future of humanity; species in space and time;
speciation and the species problem.  Note that papers need not be submitted
to a theme session; presentations on any topic related to evolution are
welcome.  In addition to the student presentations, there will be addresses
by keynote speakers, including Kevin Padian, David Mindell, David Buss, and
Peter Carruthers.

For information about the conference, visit:


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Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site:

where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and
threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

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