NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/06/19
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, NCSE staff have been busy recently, delivering a talk at the Evolution 2009 conference, writing for the Washington Post, and giving interviews on two radio programs. Meanwhile, a creationist teacher facing dismissal has sued his school district.
NCSE'S SCOTT SPEAKS AT EVOLUTION 2009 NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott spoke at the Evolution 2009 conference on June 12, 2009, and video of her lecture -- "The Public Understanding of Evolution and the KISS Principle" -- is now available on-line in RealPlayer format. At the conference, Scott was presented with the first Stephen Jay Gould Prize, awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Evolution "to recognize individuals whose sustained and exemplary efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science and its importance in biology, education, and everyday life in the spirit of Stephen Jay Gould." According to the citation, "As the executive director of the National Center for Science Education she has been in the forefront of battles to ensure that public education clearly distinguishes science from non-science and that the principles of evolution are taught in all biology courses." For the video, visit: http://realvideo.uidaho.edu:8080/ramgen/biosci/evolution09.rm For information about the conference, visit: http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/evolution09/ For the citation, visit: http://www.evolutionsociety.org/awards.asp#gouldprize NCSE'S HESS AT "ON FAITH" NCSE's Faith Project Director Peter M. J. Hess contributed a guest column, entitled "West of Eden," to the Washington Post's on-line "On Faith" feature (June 16, 2009). "Too often, debates over the public perception of evolution are dominated by the fringes, by fundamentalist Christians and others who reject basic science due to their literal reading of the Bible and by ardent atheists who reject religion because they've embraced metaphysical naturalism -- that nature is all that exists," Hess writes. "Evolution can certainly be compatible with religious faith. Because the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, we must consider it to be a truth about the natural world -- the world which we as people of faith believe was created by God, and the world made understandable by the reason and natural senses given to us by God. Denying science is a profoundly unsound theological position." For Hess's column, visit: http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2009/06/west_of_eden.html EUGENIE C. SCOTT ON THE RADIO NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was a guest on two radio programs recently, and both shows are available on-line. On June 4, 2009, she appeared on the BBC 4's Leading Edge to discuss attempts to undermine the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Other guests were Denis Alexander, Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, based at St. Edmund's College, Cambridge University, and Gillian Beer, the author of Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (second edition; Cambridge University Press, 2000). The thirty-minute-long show is available in RealPlayer format. Also on June 4, 2009, she was a guest on Declaring Independence, a weekly political talk show on Public Reality Radio, WPRR 1680-AM in Grand Rapids, Michigan; the show is hosted by NCSE member Ed Brayton (who also blogs at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, hosted by ScienceBlogs). Their free-ranging and free-wheeling discussion begins at 34:34 into the hour-long show, available in mp3 format. For the Leading Edge show, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kq564 For the Declaring Independence show, visit: http://feeds.feedburner.com/declaringindependencepodcast CREATIONIST TEACHER IN OHIO SUES SCHOOL DISTRICT "John Freshwater, an eighth-grade science teacher facing dismissal for allegedly preaching in the classroom, is suing the Mount Vernon City School District, saying it violated his constitutional and civil rights," the Columbus Dispatch (June 11, 2009) reported. Freshwater was himself sued in federal court in June 2008 for allegedly inappropriately bringing his religion into school -- including by posting posters with the Ten Commandments and Bible verses in his classroom, branding crosses into the arms of his students with a high-voltage electrical device, and teaching creationism. The Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education quickly voted to begin proceedings to terminate his employment with the district, and administrative hearings have been proceeding intermittently since October 2008. (Detailed reports on the hearings by Richard B. Hoppe are available on The Panda's Thumb blog.) In his lawsuit, Freshwater names as defendants the Board, two individual Board members and four other district administrators, a investigative firm and two of its employees commissioned by the district to investigate his teaching, and up to eight unknown (even to him) "employees, agents or others associated" with the Board who may have "conducted or facilitated" actions against him. The suit contains sixteen counts, including religious discrimination, defamation, conspiracy and breach of contract, and seeks $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. Documents associated with the case, Freshwater v. Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education et al., are available on the "Creationism and the Law" section of NCSE's website, as are documents associated with the suit against Freshwater, Doe et al. v. Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education et al. For the Dispatch's story, visit: http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/06/11/freshwater.ART_ART_06-11-09_B4_TUE56L0.html?sid=101 For Hoppe's coverage at The Panda's Thumb blog, visit: http://pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.fcgi?IncludeBlogs=2&limit=20&offset=0&search=freshwater For the legal documents associated with the cases, visit: http://ncseweb.org/creationism/legal/freshwater-v-mount-vernon http://ncseweb.org/creationism/legal/doe-v-freshwater-mv And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Ohio, visit: http://ncseweb.org/news/ohio 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