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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

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.


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: 

For the Rutherford Institute's press release, visit: 

For NCSE's collections of documents from the various proceedings
involving Freshwater, visit: 

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


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: 

For Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, visit: 


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: 

For information about the book from its publisher, visit: 

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


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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