NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/10/07
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, The latest setback for John Freshwater, the Ohio middle school teacher accused of teaching creationism. Plus a deserved honor for Victor H. Hutchison and a preview of How and Why Species Multiply.
THE LATEST SETBACK FOR FRESHWATER John Freshwater's legal challenge to the decision to terminate his employment as a middle school science teacher in Mount Vernon, Ohio, failed on October 5, 2011, when a Knox County Common Pleas Court ruled against him. The Mount Vernon News (October 5, 2011) reported that the judge wrote, "there is clear and convincing evidence to support the Board of Education's termination of Freshwater's contract(s) for good and just cause," denied Freshwater's request for further hearings, and ordered him to pay the cost of the hearings. The Columbus Dispatch (October 5, 2011) added that Freshwater now has thirty days to appeal the decision to the Fifth Court of Appeals. The decision was the latest development in a long saga which began in 2008, when a local family accused Freshwater of engaging in inappropriate religious activity -- including teaching creationism -- and sued Freshwater and the district. The Mount Vernon City School Board then voted to begin proceedings to terminate his employment. After administrative hearings that proceeded sporadically over two years, the referee presiding over the hearings finally issued his recommendation that the board terminate his employment with the district, and the board voted to do so in January 2011. Freshwater challenged that decision in court on February 8, 2011, as NCSE previously reported. In a press release issued on October 6, 2011, the Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based conservative legal group, announced its intention to appeal the decision on behalf of Freshwater to the Fifth District Court of Appeals. The Rutherford Institute aided Freshwater previously, when it appealed the Ohio Department of Education's March 22, 2011, decision to admonish Freshwater for allowing students to "volunteer to touch a live Tesla coil." According to the Columbus Dispatch, "The issue has not been resolved. The department could remove the letter [of admonishment] permanently, return the letter to Freshwater?s file or begin a full hearing on the appeal." For the stories in the Mount Vernon News and the Columbus Dispatch, visit: http://mountvernonnews.com/local/11/10/05/eyster-upholds-decision-to-fire-teacher http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/10/05/mount-vernon-teacher-freshwater.html For the Rutherford Institute's press release, visit: http://www.rutherford.org/articles_db/press_release.asp?article_id=972 For NCSE's collections of documents from the various proceedings involving Freshwater, 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 And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Ohio, visit: http://ncse.com/news/ohio CONGRATULATIONS TO VICTOR H. HUTCHISON NCSE is delighted to congratulate Victor H. Hutchison on receiving the Jack Renner Distinguished Service to Oklahoma Science Education Award from the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association. Announcing the award, OSTA's Bob Melton described Hutchison as "a tireless advocate for quality science education in our public schools, a regular representative on our behalf in the halls of the legislature, and is a frequent speaker to school and civic groups as well as a commentator on radio and television." Especially noteworthy was Hutchison's work in defending the integrity of science education, which includes his helping to found Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, the leading voice for evolution education in the Sooner State. Hutchison is George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma. A long-time member of NCSE, he received NCSE's Friend of Darwin award in 2008. For the announcement of the award, visit: http://www.oklahomascienceteachersassociation.org/?p=3258 For Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, visit: http://www.oklascience.org/ A PREVIEW OF HOW AND WHY SPECIES MULTIPLY NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Peter R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant's How and Why Species Multiply (Princeton University Press, 2007, reissued in paperback in 2011). The preview consists of chapter 10 -- "Reconstructing the Radiation of Darwin's Finches" -- in which Grant and Grant "attempt to interpret the radiation of Darwin's finches by paying attention to the ecological circumstances in which different speciation cycles took place." They summarize, "The radiation unfolded with an increase in number and diversity of species in a changing environment, and it was molded by natural selection, introgressive hybridization, and extinction. An increase in number of islands increased the opportunities for speciation and thereby the number of species. A change in climate and altered vegetation increased the opportunities for new types of species to evolve." Famous for their sustained work on Darwin's finches (as recounted for a popular audience in Jonathan Weiner's Pulitzer-prize-winning The Beak of the Finch), Peter R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant are professors emeriti at Princeton University; among their honors are the 2005 Balzan Prize, the Darwin-Wallace Medal of the Linnean Society in 2008, and the 2009 Kyoto Prize. The reviewer for New Scientist described their book as "a must-have primer for any biology student," and David B. Wake praised How and Why Species Multiply as "a book that summarizes decades of research on Darwin's finches and integrates it into a very accessible synthesis. What really distinguishes the book, of course, is the authority of the authors, who have lived with these birds for many years and have unparalleled familiarity with them. Readers will benefit enormously from the scholarship in this book." For the preview of How and Why Species Multiply, visit: http://ncse.com/book-excerpt For information about the book from its publisher, visit: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8486.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. -- Sincerely, 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