NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/05/08
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Florida's antievolution bill is apparently dead; the winners of Alliance for Science's third annual essay contest have been announced; and NCSE is expanding its presence on Facebook.
FLORIDA ANTIEVOLUTION BILL DIES With the close of the regular legislative session in Florida on May 1, 2009, Senate Bill 2396 apparently died in committee. If enacted, the bill would have amended a section of Florida law to require "[a] thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution." The bill's sponsor, Stephen R. Wise (R-District 5), originally announced his intention to introduce a bill requiring "intelligent design" to be taught in Florida's public schools, telling the Jacksonville Times-Union (February 8, 2009), "If you're going to teach evolution, then you have to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking." The phrase "[a] thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution" appeared in the previous legislative session in Florida. House Bill 1483, which originally purported to protect the right of teachers to "objectively present scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution," was eventually amended -- due to concerns about its constitutionality -- to require the public schools to provide "[a] thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution." Both that bill and its Senate counterpart died in committee. After SB 2396 was introduced, Florida Citizens for Science quickly denounced it, writing, in a February 27, 2009, press release, "Wise’s antievolution bill is an insult to citizens who are tired of stomping over the same ground over and over again. The Florida Board of Education and last year’s state legislature have already debated the teaching of evolution ad nauseam. To insist on bringing this up again is irresponsible because it will distract our lawmakers from the important tasks at hand, and could burden one of our school districts with a million dollar legal bill" (a reference to the Kitzmiller case). For the story in the Jacksonville Times-Union, visit: http://www.jacksonville.com/news/metro/2009-02-08/story/wise_to_introduce_intelligent_design_bill For Florida Citizens for Science's press release, visit: http://www.flascience.org/wp/?p=926 And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit: http://ncseweb.org/news/florida ALLIANCE FOR SCIENCE ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS NCSE congratulates the winners of Alliance for Science's third annual essay contest, announced on April 30, 2009. Alliance for Science -- a non-profit organization which seeks "to heighten public understanding and support for science and to preserve the distinctions between science and religion in the public sphere" -- invited high school students to compare the achievements and dedication of a modern-era scientist with those of Charles Darwin. Alliance for Science received entries from students around the country. The winning entry was submitted by Regina Parker, a high school sophomore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who wrote about Walter J. Gehring. She received copies of Lauri Lebo's The Devil in Dover and Carl Zimmer's Microcosm as well as $300 as a prize, while her teacher Jessica Jones received copies of Kenneth R. Miller's Finding Darwin's God and Only a Theory as well as $150 toward classroom supplies. Parker's prize essay, as well as four other prize-winning essays from the contest, are now posted in PDF form at Alliance for Science's website. "Our winners this year really showed how well they grasped the theme of the contest," said Dick Lessard, the director of Alliance for Science's essay contest. "We hope that all of the students who entered the contest learned to look at Darwin's work and career in a new light, while also developing an appreciation for the challenges and excitement of science today." For the announcement of the winners (PDF), visit: http://www.allianceforscience.org/files/active/0/Alliance%20for%20Science%20Essay%20Contest%20Press%20Release.pdf For the prize essays, visit: http://www.allianceforscience.org/2009_essay_winners NCSE'S EXPANDED PRESENCE ON FACEBOOK NCSE is expanding its presence on the social networking website Facebook with a new page, supplementing the existing NCSE group. The new page enables NCSE to showcase its work and interact with its fans to a greater degree than ever before. To become a fan of NCSE's page, visit the page and click on the "Become a Fan" link in the upper right. Almost 2000 Facebook users are fans of the new page already — please join them! NCSE's Facebook group, with over 3000 members, will continue to operate as well. For the new NCSE Facebook page, visit: http://www.facebook.com/pages/NCSE-The-National-Center-for-Science-Education/185362080579 For the existing NCSE Facebook group, visit: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5105447682 -- 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://ncseweb.org Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism -- now in its second edition! http://ncseweb.org/evc Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools http://ncseweb.org/nioc NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncseweb.org/membership