NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/07/09
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, The first year of Randy Moore's "People & Places" column is now available on-line. Chris Comer's appeal failed -- the Texas Education Agency's policy requiring "neutrality" of its employees when "talking about evolution and creationism" is not unconstitutional. And NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott is profiled in the Capital Times.
MAKING THE ROUNDS WITH RANDY MOORE In 2009, Randy Moore began to write a regular column for Reports of the NCSE in which he introduced the people and places of the creationism/evolution controversy. Now the first year of his "People & Places" column is available on-line. Moore visits Siccar Point, "arguably the most important geological site in the world"; the Temple of Serapis, which appears on the frontispiece of Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology; Dayton, Tennessee, which hosted the Scopes trial in 1925; William Paley, whose Natural Theology influenced Darwin's thought; and the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas -- both before and after its remodel. A long-time member of NCSE and a recipient of its Friend of Darwin award, Moore is Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota. If you like his "People & Places" column, you'll be sure to love More than Darwin: An Encyclopedia of the People and Places of the Evolution-Creationism Controversy (Greenwood Press, 2008; University of California Press, 2009), coauthored with Mark Decker. NCSE's Glenn Branch praised it as "[a] marvelous trove for the curious browser, who will be constantly tempted to pull the book off the shelf to read a random entry and discover a new fact or two." And you'll also want to subscribe to Reports of the NCSE! For the first year of Moore's column, visit: http://ncse.com/rncse/29/1/siccar-point http://ncse.com/rncse/29/2/temple-serapis http://ncse.com/rncse/29/3/dayton-tennessee http://ncse.com/rncse/29/4/william-paley-1743-1805 http://ncse.com/rncse/29/5/creation-evidence-museum http://ncse.com/rncse/29/6/going-back-to-glen-rose For Branch's review of More than Darwin, visit: http://ncse.com/rncse/29/1/review-more-than-darwin And for information about subscribing to Reports of the NCSE, visit: http://ncse.com/membership COMER LOSES APPEAL In a decision issued on July 2, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court's decision that the Texas Education Agency's policy requiring "neutrality" of its employees when "talking about evolution and creationism" is not unconstitutional. The case, Comer v. Scott, was filed by Chris Comer, the former director of the Texas Education Agency, who was forced to resign from her post in November 2007 after she forwarded a note announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest. In June 2008, Comer filed suit, arguing that the agency's neutrality policy violates the Establishment Clause. Her lawsuit was dismissed in March 2009, but she appealed the decision, and oral arguments were heard in April 2010. Writing for a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, Fortunato Benavides explained (pp. 11-12), "Upon review of the record and applicable law, we cannot conclude that TEA's neutrality policy has the 'primary effect' of advancing religion. The fact that Comer and other TEA employees cannot speak out for or against possible subjects to be included in the curriculum ... does not primarily advance religion, but rather, serves to preserve TEA's administrative role in facilitating the curriculum review process for the Board. ... Thus, we find it hard to imagine circumstances in which a TEA employee's inability to publicly speak out for or against a potential subject for the Texas curriculum would be construed or perceived as the State’s endorsement of a particular religion." For the Fifth Circuit's ruling (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/webfm_send/1390 For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/chris-comer-docs NCSE'S SCOTT PROFILED IN CAPITAL TIMES NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was profiled by Phil Haslanger in the Madison, Wisconsin, Capital Times (July 1, 2010). "In a place like Madison, it's easy to think about the battles over teaching evolution in schools as something from another time and place," Hanslanger writes. But -- as Scott, who was born and raised in Wisconsin, told him -- "You don't have to go far to find a teacher afraid of teaching evolution or who is teaching creationism ... Teachers will often soft-pedal evolution or skip over it if there is a chance of a confrontation." Additionally, as attempts to have creationism taught explicitly have faltered, the new trend is to require or encourage teachers to present what are billed as the "weaknesses of evolution" -- which, Scott explained, would be "wasting time teaching students a bunch of erroneous information." Haslanger, a regular columnist for the Capital Times, is pastor of Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg, Wisconsin. For the profile, visit: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/phil_haslanger/article_954cba6d-1b37-53b5-85ed-d0bc1496cb1b.html Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- 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://ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/membership