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."
SETTLEMENT IN FRESHWATER CASE IMMINENT 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 judge. 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: http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/10/10/27/settlement-signed-by-both-parties-in-civil-lawsuit For the story in the Columbus Dispatch, visit: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/10/23/science-teacher-didnt-get-settlement.html For the Associated Press story (via NPR), visit: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130756286 For Hoppe's reports on The Panda's Thumb blog, visit: http://pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.fcgi?blog_id=2&tag=Freshwater&limit=20 For NCSE's collections of documents from the cases and hearing, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/doe-v-freshwater-mv http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/freshwater-v-mount-vernon http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/freshwater-termination-hearing FURTHER KUDOS FOR EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM 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: http://www.issrlibrary.org/the-library/ For Larson's introduction to Evolution vs. Creationism, visit: http://www.issrlibrary.org/introductory-essays/essay/?title=Evolution%20vs.%20Creationism:%20An%20Introduction&ref=essays For the press release from ISSR, visit: http://www.issrlibrary.org/media/ For Hess's introduction to Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion, visit: http://www.issrlibrary.org/introductory-essays/essay/?title=Darwin%27s%20Gift%20to%20Science%20and%20Religion&ref=library WEBCAST: MOLECULAR INSIGHTS INTO CLASSIC EXAMPLES OF EVOLUTION 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 time. To view the webcast, visit http://dukeuniversity.acrobat.com/nabt2010 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 email@example.com.) 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 website. For NESCent's press release about the symposium, visit: https://www.nescent.org/media/NABTSymposium2010.php For the webcast website, visit: http://dukeuniversity.acrobat.com/nabt2010 For information about previous symposia, visit: https://www.nescent.org/media/NABT.php 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