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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2012/11/30

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A new issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach is published -- with
exciting news about the journal's future to boot. The issue of public
funding of private schools that teach creationism is in the news again
in Louisiana. And a bill requiring the teaching of "intelligent
design" is expected in Montana.


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 -- now published.
The theme for the issue (volume 5, number 4), edited by Bruce S.
Lieberman, is biogeography. Articles on the theme include "The
Geography of Evolution and the Evolution of Geography"; "Invasive
Species and Evolution"; "Using Marine Snails to Teach Biogeography and
Macroevolution"; "The Geography of Speciation: Case Studies from
Birds"; "The (Paleo)Geography of Evolution"; "Historical
Biogeography"; and "Species? Geographic Distributions Through Time."
Plus there are various articles on the teaching of evolution.

Also included is the latest installment of NCSE's regular column,
Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education. In "Evolution and
Biogeography: Leading Students in Darwin?s and Wallace?s Footsteps,"
NCSE's Joshua Rosenau suggests, "Exploring life's diversity and
geography's effect on it was central to Darwin['s] and Wallace's
parallel discoveries of evolution. Those discoveries required the two
to overcome their own misconceptions about species and biology. By
helping students to see the world through the eyes of explorers and
placing life's diversity into a geographic context, teachers can help
students overcome those same barriers to the acceptance of evolution
and deepen students' appreciation of diversity."

In his editorial introduction to the issue, Niles Eldredge reports,
"Beginning in January 2013, E: E&O will become an 'Open Access'
journal -- freely available to everyone the world over with access to
the internet," adding, "we are thrilled that the journal's contents
(including all back content over the first five years) will soon be
freely available to everyone. We are proud of what E: E&O has brought
to the world in terms of the understanding and communication of
evolutionary concepts. We thank all of our contributors -- writers,
editors, and reviewers -- who have made the journal so successful so
far. Now that E: E&O will be even more accessible to both the
scientific and educational communities, we look forward to making an
even bigger difference in the years to come!"

For the issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach, visit: 

For Rosenau's article (subscription required), visit: 

For Eldredge's introduction to the issue, visit: 


A trial in a state court over Louisiana's controversial voucher
program began on November 28, 2012, reviving the issue of the state's
funding of schools that teach creationism. As NCSE previously
reported, the voucher program uses public school funds to pay for
tuition and certain fees at private schools for students who attend
low-performing public schools and whose family income is below a
certain level. But as Zack Kopplin, the activist who organized the
effort to repeal the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, told
the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, at least 19 of
the 119 schools slated to benefit from the program teach creationism
instead of or along with evolution; at least one of the schools uses a
textbook that cites the Loch Ness monster as evidence against

Neither the Loch Ness monster nor creationism is at issue in the
current legal challenge to the voucher program, however. Rather, the
Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of
Teachers along with a number of local school boards are arguing that
the program violates the state constitution by redirecting local tax
dollars from public schools to private schools. As a columnist for the
New Orleans Times-Picayune (November 28, 2012) explains, the law
instituting the program attempted to avoid the problem: "the state
deducts from what the [program] pays to local districts an amount
nearly equal to the state portion and what the districts raise locally
... but the school boards argue that in reality they are being docked
for both the state and local portions for each voucher student."

Although the accounting details are at the heart of the case, it is
creationism that captures the attention outside Louisiana: in a
eighteen-paragraph story on the lawsuit in the Guardian (November 28,
2012), no fewer than thirteen paragraphs discussed creationism. The
Guardian's article quoted Zack Kopplin, Americans United for
Separation of Church and State's Rob Boston, and Barbara Forrest, a
member of NCSE's board of directors, who commented, with regard to the
claims that the voucher program promotes the quality of education in
Louisiana, "It is not better education. It is inferior when you are
teaching kids that the earth is 6,000 years old. A lot of public money
is going to schools that teach creationism and fundamentalist science.
I think that is dreadful." A ruling in the case is expected shortly.

For the story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, visit: 

For the story in the Guardian, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: 


A Montana legislator is preparing a bill to require the teaching of
"intelligent design" along with evolution. On November 5, 2012,
Clayton Fiscus (R-District 46), a new member of the Montana House of
Representatives, asked for a bill to be drafted that would "[r]equire
public schools to teach intelligent design along with evolution." As
such, the bill would presumably conflict with the decision in the 2005
case Kitzmiller v. Dover, in which requiring the public schools to
teach "intelligent design" was held to be unconstitutional. The
legislature convenes on January 7, 2013.

The last antievolution bill to be introduced in Montana's legislature
was House Bill 588 in 2001, which would have required, among other
things, the teaching of "competing theories of origin" rather than
"the exclusive teaching of the theory of evolution"; a "reasonably
balanced presentation" of evidence "supporting and disproving each
major theory of origin"; and the appointment of a volunteer citizen
panel, with "supporters and nonsupporters of Darwin's theory of
evolution" equally represented, to recommend instructional materials
"that comply with the intent" of the bill. It died in committee.

For information about the bill draft, number LC0599, visit:$.startup?P_SESS=20131 

For NCSE's previous coverage of events in Montana, visit: 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


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

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