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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2012/12/07

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A new twist for the expected antievolution bill in Indiana. And in
Louisiana a controversial voucher program was ruled to be
unconstitutional, while in Britain private religious schools receiving
government funding are being required to present evolution.


The expected antievolution bill in Indiana appears to have mutated. As
NCSE previously reported, state senator Dennis Kruse (R-District 14)
told the Lafayette Journal and Courier (November 10, 2012) that he
planned to introduce a bill drafted by the Discovery Institute,
presumably along the lines of the bills enacted in Tennessee in 2012
and Louisiana in 2008, encouraging teachers to misrepresent evolution
as controversial. But now the Indianapolis Star (December 4, 2002)
reports that Kruse plans "to pursue legislation that allows students
to challenge teachers on issues, forcing them to provide evidence to
back up their lessons."

In 2011, Kruse's Senate Bill 89 would have allowed local school
districts to require the teaching of creation science -- despite the
Supreme Court's ruling in the 1987 case Edwards v. Aguillard that
teaching creation science in public schools is unconstitutional. SB 89
passed the Senate but was amended there to delete the reference to
creation science and to require reference to "Christianity, Judaism,
Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology"; the speaker of the House
of Representatives declined to let it come to a vote there, citing
concerns about a potential lawsuit, and the bill died when the
legislature adjourned.

Describing his new idea as "a different approach," Kruse explained to
the Star, "I would call it 'truth in education' to make sure that what
is being taught is true ... And if a student thinks something isn't
true, then they can question the teacher and the teacher would have to
come up with some kind of research to support that what they are
teaching is true or not true." He added that the bill would delegate
the exact implementation of the process to local school districts:
"It's going to be written in kind of a broad way." Although Kruse was
not quoted as mentioning evolution in particular, the Star seemed
convinced that it was in his sights.

Nate Schnellenberger, president of the Indiana State Teachers
Association and a former biology teacher, told the Star that a teacher
faced with a student's challenge to demonstrate the truth of evolution
could simply "turn to the textbook and use fossils as an example."
Citing the possibility of students demanding evidence of such
uncontroversial facts as the moon landing, he argued that the bill, if
enacted, would be unduly burdensome to teachers. "I think we've got
more important things to worry about than that," he commented. "It's
just another thing to add to the myriad of hoops teachers have to jump
through now that take away from actual instruction."

State senator Tim Skinner (D-District 38), who taught in Indiana
schools for nearly a quarter century, told Indiana Public Media
(December 4, 2012) that Kruse's proposal was unnecessary. "If Senator
Kruse had education experience he would know that students across the
country are already doing that every day in the public school
classroom," Skinner said. "They question everything, and I think a
teacher who's actually doing their job will answer those questions."
Skinner was one of two members of the Senate Committee on Education
and Career Development who voted against Kruse's Senate Bill 89 in

The Lafayette Journal and Courier (December 5, 2012) reported that Bob
Behning (R-District 91) -- the chair of the House Education Committee,
where Kruse's antievolution bill would be referred if it were to pass
the Senate -- said that he "wouldn't prejudge whether he'd give this
bill a hearing if it makes it through the Senate." Nevertheless,
Behning was unenthusiastic about it, describing it as too broad and
vague. Echoing Schnellenberger's concerns, he commented, "I don't want
to do something that?s going to burden schools to the point where
they?re going to spend their lives trying to validate what is assumed
to be true."

For the November 10, 2012, story in the Lafayette Journal and Courier, visit: 

For the story in the Indianapolis Star, visit: 

For the story at Indiana Public Media, visit: 

For the December 5, 2012, story in the Lafayette Journal and Courier, visit: 

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


Louisiana's controversial voucher program was ruled to violate the
Louisiana state constitution, the Baton Rouge Advocate (December 3,
2012) reports. Part of the controversy over the program, which 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, involves creationism:
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 that of the roughly 6600 spaces
available for students under the program, 1350 will be filled, as the
Lafayette Independent Weekly (July 26, 2012) described it, "at private
Christian schools that teach creationism and peg evolution as 'false

But creationism was not at issue in the lawsuit just decided: rather,
the Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of
Teachers along with a number of local school boards argued that the
program violates the state constitution by redirecting local tax
dollars from public schools to private schools. District Judge Tim
Kelley agreed, ruling, "The MFP [the Minimum Foundation Program] was
set up for students attending public elementary and secondary schools
and was never meant to be diverted to private educational providers
... vital public dollars raised and allocated for public schools
through the MFP cannot be lawfully diverted to nonpublic schools or
entities." Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal indicated that the
decision will be appealed to Louisiana's Supreme Court.

For the story in the Baton Rouge Advocate, visit: 

For the story in the Lafayette Independent Weekly, visit: 

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


"All free schools will be forced to present evolution as a
comprehensive and central tenet of scientific theory," the Guardian
(November 29, 2012) reported, "following lobbying by senior scientists
concerned that Christian-run institutions could exploit loopholes in
the rules to present creationism as a credible theory." A relatively
new phenomenon, free schools in Britain resemble charter schools in
the United States, and as with charter schools, there are concerns
about whether creationism is taught in institutions sponsored or
operated by religious groups with creationist views.

As NCSE previously reported, although the Department for Children,
Education, and Schools promised to reject the application of any free
school proposing to teach creationism in the science curriculum, there
was widespread concern whether it was sufficient. The Guardian
(September 18, 2011) noted, "A number of faith schools say that they
teach creationism in religious studies but not in science and then
leave students to decide," and quoted one proposal for a church-run
free school, according to which creationism "[w]ill be embodied as a
belief at Everyday Champions Academy, but will not be taught in the

Paul Nurse, the president of the Royal Society of London, who lobbied
for the tightening of the requirements, told the Guardian, "They had,
quite reasonably, controlled the possibility that creationism might be
taught as science, but what hadn't been protected was that evolution
should be taught at all. You could have ended up, if a school was so
minded, not to teach creationism in science but to discuss creationism
as the basis of the origin of species in religious studies, and not
talk about evolution in science studies. ... the message about
evolution by natural selection could have been completely lost."

According to the new requirement, free schools must "make provision
for the teaching of evolution as a comprehensive, coherent and
extensively evidenced theory"; the Guardian quoted the minister of
education as saying, "While we have always been clear that we would
expect to see evolution included in schools' science curricula, this
new clause will provide more explicit reassurance that free schools
will have to meet that expectation." Nurse, while admitting to still
harboring personal concerns about science education in free schools,
commented, "the major concern was this one and that has been dealt
with by these new regulations."

Writing in the Guardian (November 30, 2012), Andrew Copson of the
British Humanist Association applauded the new requirement as "the
furthest a British government has ever gone to counter the threat of
pseudoscientific creationist beliefs being taught in our state
schools," but warned that it would be necessary to be vigilant to
ensure the integrity of science education in British schools: "In
addition to such concerns about the ability of public bodies to uphold
and guarantee commitments made on paper, there are still loopholes
allowing the determined to teach creationism."

For the November 29, 2012, story in the Guardian, visit: 

For the September 18, 2011, story in the Guardian, visit: 

For Andrew Copson's column in the Guardian, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events abroad, 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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