NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/12/30
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A new creationist bill in Indiana, and more on the two antievolution bills in New Hampshire. Plus a new issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach.
CREATIONIST LEGISLATION IN INDIANA Senate Bill 89, prefiled in the Indiana Senate and referred to the Committee on Education and Career Development, would, if enacted, amend the Indiana Code to provide that "[t]he governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation." The sponsor of the bill is Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), who chairs the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development. In 1999, while serving in the Indiana House of Representatives, Kruse pledged to introduce a law to remove evolution from the state's science standards, according to the South Bend Tribune (August 27, 1999). Instead, however, he introduced bills with the same wording as Senate Bill 89, House Bill 1356 in 2000 and House Bill 1323 in 2001. Both died in committee. "The obvious problem," commented NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott, "is that the Indiana legislature can't authorize a school district to violate the Constitution. And the Supreme Court held, in its 1987 decision in Edwards v. Aguillard, that it's unconstitutional for creation science to be taught in the public schools." She added, "It's disturbing that a veteran legislator like Kruse is ignorant of -- or indifferent to -- the blatant unconstitutionality of his bill." The most recent antievolution bill in Indiana, 2006's House Bill 1388, was aimed at supposed errors in textbooks, although its sponsor had previously announced his intention to introduce legislation requiring the teaching of "intelligent design" in the state's public schools; HB 1388 died in committee. The current legislative session resumes on January 4, 2012. For the text of SB 89 as introduced, visit: http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2012/IN/IN0089.1.html For the text of HB 1356, HB 1323, and HB 1388, visit: http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2000/IN/IN1356.1.html http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2001/IN/IN1323.1.html http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2006/IN/IN1388.1.html And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Indiana, visit: http://ncse.com/news/indiana MONITORING ANTIEVOLUTION BILLS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE The two antievolution bills in the New Hampshire legislature attracted the attention of the Concord Monitor (December 29, 2011). As NCSE previously reported, House Bill 1148, introduced by Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17), would charge the state board of education to "[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists' political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism," while House Bill 1457, introduced by Gary Hopper (R-District 7) and John Burt (R-District 7), would charge the state board of education to "[r]equire science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire [sic] results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes." Bergevin told the Monitor, "I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It's a worldview and it's godless." He reportedly blamed the acceptance of evolution for the atrocities of Nazi Germany and the 1999 Columbine shooting. NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott explained, however, that "Evolutionary scientists are Democrats and Republicans, Libertarians and Greens and everything. Similarly, their religious views are all over the map, too. ... If you replace atheism in the bill with Protestantism, or Catholicism, or Judaism or any other view, it's clear to see it's not going to pass legal muster." She also noted that the bill would presumably require teachers to ascertain the political and religious views of every scientist mentioned in their biology textbooks, a requirement which she characterized as "pretty dopey." Hopper acknowledged that although he would like to see "intelligent design" taught in classrooms, he was not able to find a successful legislative precedent. Instead, he explained, "I want the problems with the current theories to be presented so that kids understand that science doesn't really have all the answers. They are just guessing." Scott retorted, "You're not improving science education for young people by pretending that well-established ideas are up for grabs. The idea of evolution, that living things have common ancestors, is not being challenged in science today." She summarized, "Neither of these bills are going to advance science education in New Hampshire and neither of them deserve to be inflicted upon the students in your state." Both bills were referred to the House Education Committee; HB 1148 is scheduled for a hearing on February 9, 2012, and HB 1457 is scheduled for a hearing on February 14, 2012. For the article in the Concord Monitor, visit: http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/300905/bills-aim-to-roll-back-teaching-evolution And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in New Hampshire, visit: http://ncse.com/news/new-hampshire THE LATEST ISSUE OF EVOLUTION: EDUCATION AND OUTREACH The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new journal promoting the accurate understanding and comprehensive teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- is now published. The theme for the issue (volume 4, number 4) is Evolution and Medicine, edited by Kristin P. Jenkins and Michael F. Antolin. Articles include "Diagnosis: Evolution"; "Evolutionary Medicine and the Medical School Curriculum"; "Enhancing the Teaching of Evolution in Public Health"; "A Clinical Perspective in Evolutionary Medicine"; "On Designing Courses in Evolutionary Medicine"; "Developing a Curriculum for Evolutionary Medicine"; and "Evolution and Medicine: An Inquiry-Based High School Curriculum Supplement." Plus there are various articles on the teaching of evolution, book reviews, and commentaries. Remember, access to the journal is free through the end of 2011, so right now is the time to peruse the contents! Also included is the latest installment of NCSE's regular column, Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education. In "Evolutionary Medicine: A Key to Introducing Evolution," NCSE's Eric Meikle and Eugenie C. Scott discuss how examples and concepts from evolutionary medicine can be used to improve the teaching of evolution across the board. "We suggest that teachers consider starting discussions of evolution with a medical example, and use such topics throughout their teaching in order to stimulate student interest and provide real-life examples that can hit home," they write, concluding, "Adding a careful exposition of how evolution informs medical practice and research -- the same medicine that students can see at work healing the wounded, preparing cures, and devising remedies -- will help not only to convey the power and beauty of evolution in general but also to assuage qualms about human evolution in particular." For Evolution: Education and Outreach, visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/120878/ For Meikle and Scott's article (subscription required after December 31), visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/q7h576w523ww6v57/fulltext.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. -- With best wishes for the new year, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x305 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: http://reports.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/join