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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/10/29

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

The end of two lawsuits involving a teacher preaching creationism in
the classroom in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is on the horizon. Kudos for
Evolution vs. Creationism from the International Society for Science
and Religion. And news of a webcast on "Molecular Insights into
Classic Examples of Evolution."


A settlement is in the works in Doe v. Mount Vernon Board of Education
et al., the case in which John Freshwater, a Mount Vernon, Ohio,
middle school science teacher, was accused of inappropriate religious
activity in the classroom -- including displaying posters with the Ten
Commandments and Bible verses, branding crosses on the arms of his
students with a high-voltage electrical device, and teaching
creationism. The Mount Vernon News (October 27, 2010) reports that the
parties have signed the agreement, which still must be approved by a

According to the News, "The settlement involves a $300,000 payment by
Freshwater’s insurer to Stephen and Jenifer Dennis [the Does] to
compensate them 'for mental pain and other damages suffered.' The
insurer, Ohio Casualty, is the school district’s liability carrier,
and is involved because Freshwater was a school district employee at
the time the lawsuit was filed. A separate payment of $150,000, over
the course of the next 13 years, will be used to purchase an annuity
for their minor son, Zach Dennis, on whose behalf the lawsuit was
originally filed."

Shortly beforehand, on October 21, 2010, Freshwater filed a notice to
dismiss his own lawsuit against the Mount Vernon City School District
Board of Education, which he filed in June 2009 after he was dismissed
from employment with the district in June 2008. Freshwater claimed
that he had been offered a financial settlement, but Sarah Moore, a
lawyer representing the school district, denied it, telling the
Columbus Dispatch (October 23, 2010), "I can confirm there was no
settlement, and we're not expecting any."

Freshwater told the Associated Press (October 22, 2010) that he
abandoned his lawsuit against the board because "it would have
interfered with a public airing of his complaint in a different venue"
-- presumably the administrative hearing on the termination of his
employment, which was conducted intermittently from October 2008 to
June 2010. The referee presiding over the hearing has yet to release
his decision. (Richard B. Hoppe's detailed reports on the hearing as
well as the two lawsuits are available on The Panda's Thumb blog.)

For the story in the Mount Vernon News, visit: 

For the story in the Columbus Dispatch, visit: 

For the Associated Press story (via NPR), visit: 

For Hoppe's reports on The Panda's Thumb blog, visit: 

For NCSE's collections of documents from the cases and hearing, visit: 


Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism (second edition:
Greenwood Press, 2008 and University of California Press, 2009) was
recommended by the International Society for Science and Religion as
one of 250 central texts in the field of science and religion. In his
essay introducing the book for ISSR, the historian Edward J. Larson
described it as "an invaluable resource for those seeking to
understand the American controversy over creationism and evolution
from the perspective of an eloquent and knowledgeable partisan,"
adding that it "offers an insightful overview of the American
controversy over teaching evolution along with a representative
sampling of short excerpts from both creationists and evolutionists.
By reading it, teachers, parents, students and the public can be
better prepared to answer creationist claims and defend the teaching
of evolution."

A November 20, 2007, press release from the ISSR explained, "The ISSR,
the world’s leading learned society in the field of science and
religion, will create a foundational library of central texts in the
field. This library will consist of approximately 250 books spanning
all important areas and disciplines as well as key international and
intercultural voices. Upon selection of constituent titles, Society
members will write critical essays on each book and these will be
collected into a new, stand-alone companion volume, The ISSR Companion
to Science and Religion, to be made available through a commercial
publisher. ... By the end of this three-year program a basic library
in science and religion will exist for the first time. A compact,
critical overview will be available in the form of the companion
volume, and hundreds of institutions worldwide will provide access for
their students, scholars and the general public."

Other books by NCSE members and Supporters in the list include
Francisco Ayala's Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion (introduced by
NCSE's Peter M. J. Hess), Sean B. Carroll's Endless Forms Most
Beautiful, Daniel C. Dennett's Breaking the Spell and Darwin's
Dangerous Idea, Taner Edis's An Illusion of Harmony, Ursula
Goodenough's The Sacred Depths of Nature, Stephen Jay Gould's Rocks of
Ages and Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle, John F. Haught's Deeper than
Darwin and Is Nature Enough?, Ernst Mayr's Toward a New Philosophy of
Biology, Kenneth R. Miller's Finding Darwin's God, Ronald L. Numbers's
The Creationists and his collection Galileo Goes to Jail, Robert T.
Pennock's Tower of Babel and his collection Intelligent Design
Creationism and its Critics, Michael Ruse's Can a Darwinian be a
Christian? and Monad to Man, and Elliott Sober's Unto Others
(coauthored with David Sloan Wilson).

For the ISSR's list of recommended books, visit: 

For Larson's introduction to Evolution vs. Creationism, visit: 

For the press release from ISSR, visit: 

For Hess's introduction to Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion, visit: 


The annual Evolution Symposium at the National Association of Biology
Teachers conference will be webcast live from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Central) on November 5, 2010. Entitled "Molecular Insights into
Classic Examples of Evolution," the symposium features four exciting
speakers whose research in molecular evolution is revolutionizing our
understanding of familiar and compelling examples of evolution.

Edmund "Butch" D. Brodie III of the University of Virginia will speak
on "Time to change the channel: Predator-prey arms races and the
evolution of toxin resistance in snakes"; Allen G. Rodrigo of the
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and Duke University will speak
on "Rapidly evolving viruses: Studying molecular evolution in real
time"; Hopi E. Hoekstra of Harvard University will speak on "From mice
to molecules: the genetics of color adaptation"; and NCSE Supporter
Sean Carroll of the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Howard Hughes
Medical Institutes will speak on "How bugs get their spots: Genetic
switches and the evolution of form."

Teachers and students are encouraged to tune in to all or part of the
free webcast for an opportunity to hear internationally renowned
researchers discuss their fascinating, cutting-edge work in molecular
evolutionary biology. Classrooms all over the world will even be able
to submit their questions online and have the speakers respond in real

To view the webcast, visit 
at 11 am Pacific/12 pm Mountain/1 pm Central/2 pm Eastern and log in
as a guest. (Note: It is suggested that groups do this in advance to
test the connection and make sure you can access the site without
problems. When you log in successfully you will see a
"Congratulations" message. If you have problems, please contact 

The Evolution Symposium, presented annually since 2004 at the NABT
conference, is cosponsored by the American Institute of Biological
Sciences and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Videos of
previous symposia, and collections of relevant educational resources,
are available in CD form from NESCent and on-line from NESCent's

For NESCent's press release about the symposium, visit:

For the webcast website, visit: 

For information about previous symposia, visit:

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- 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 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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