NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/06/05
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott is interviewed in Science, while NCSE's Steven Newton explains what's wrong with the new Texas state science standards. And two antievolution bills in the Texas legislature are now dead.
EUGENIE C. SCOTT INTERVIEWED IN SCIENCE NCSE's executive director was interviewed in the latest issue of Science under the headline "Eugenie Scott Toils in Defense of Evolution." Introducing the interview, Science's Yudhijit Bhattacharjee remarked, "Last week, Scott won the inaugural Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution, only weeks after Scientific American ranked her among the country's top 10 science and technology leaders for her self-described role as 'Darwin's golden retriever.'" Explaining that the antievolution movement has become more diverse over the last twenty years, Scott reviewed the present situation, noting especially the prevalence of "closet creationism being introduced through wording not obvious to those unfamiliar with the history of the controversy." Asked what scientists should do to help the cause of defending the teaching of evolution, she answered, "Universities need to do a better job of teaching evolution because that's where high school teachers get their training. Evolution needs to be brought into every course of biology instead of getting tacked on as a unit to the intro class." For the interview (subscription required), visit: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/324/5932/1250-b WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE NEW TEXAS STANDARDS Writing in The Earth Scientist, the journal of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, NCSE's Steven Newton explains in detail what's wrong with the new state science standards adopted in Texas in March 2009, focusing on the Earth and Space Science standards in particular. At the behest of the creationist faction on the state board of education, references to the specific age of the universe, common descent, and evolution were removed, and language that misleadingly suggests that established scientific results are in doubt was introduced. Newton concludes, "Although the original ESS standards were based on strong science and outlined an excellent course in earth sciences, a number of creationist and anti-science amendments have weakened the ESS standards and disrespected the hard work and expertise of the writing team. The standards are finalized and in place, bad amendments and all. The struggle for science education in Texas now shifts to the adoption of textbooks in 2011, when these deeply-flawed amendments may be used to force a creationist agenda into Texas science classrooms." For Newton's article (PDF, pp. 30-33), visit: http://www.nestanet.org/cms/sites/default/files/journal/Summer09.pdf And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Texas, visit: http://ncseweb.org/news/texas ANTIEVOLUTION BILLS DIE IN TEXAS Two antievolution bills -- House Bill 2800 and House Bill 4224 -- died when the Texas legislature adjourned on June 1, 2009. HB 2800 would have exempted institutions such as the Institute for Creation Research's graduate school from Texas's regulations governing degree-granting institutions, thus freeing the ICR to offer a master's degree in science education despite the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board's 2008 decision to deny the ICR's request for a state certification of authority to offer the degree. The ICR is currently suing THECB in federal court over its decision. HB 4224 would have required the Texas state board of education to restore the controversial "strengths and weaknesses" language in the Texas state science standards. Although creationists on the board were unsuccessful in restoring the "strengths and weaknesses" language, they successfully introduced a requirement that students examine "all sides of scientific evidence." Partly due to his attempts to undermine the treatment of evolution in the state science standards, the senate voted not to confirm Don McLeroy in his position as chair of the board; the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (May 31, 2009) editorially commented, "It is overly optimistic to say the Senate’s rejection of Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education will end the missteps and arguments that have plagued the board during the past two years. Still, we can hope." For the text of the bills, visit: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/billtext/html/HB02800I.htm http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/billtext/html/HB04224I.htm For the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's editorial, visit: http://www.star-telegram.com/242/story/1405686.html And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Texas, visit: http://ncseweb.org/news/texas Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncseweb.org -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. -- Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x310 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncseweb.org Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism -- now in its second edition! http://ncseweb.org/evc Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools http://ncseweb.org/nioc NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncseweb.org/membership