NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/12/02
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, News from Texas, where there's a challenge to the Institute for Creation Research's eligibility to receive donations from the state employee charitable campaign, and where the Texas Freedom Network is warning of a possible resurgence of controversies over the treatment of evolution in textbooks.
ICR CHALLENGED IN CHARITABLE CAMPAIGN The presence of a creationist group on a list of charitable organizations approved to receive donations from state employees is under challenge, according to the Austin American-Statesman (November 30, 2011). David Hillis, a professor of biology at the University of Texas, Austin, was surprised to discover that the Institute for Creation Research was included in the list of organizations eligible to receive donations through the State Employee Charitable Campaign. Such organizations are supposed to provide "direct or indirect health and human services." But, Hillis told the newspaper, the ICR works "to undermine the mission of the university and of science in general, and especially the science that is the very basis for health and human services. How could such an organization possibly be listed as a charitable organization to be supported by state employees?" His colleague John Hoberman, a professor of Germanic studies, added that the ICR's activities "do not qualify as the sort of humanitarian activity we associate with charity in the proper sense of the word." The ICR is currently described in the list as follows: "Science strongly supports the Bible's authority and accuracy. With scientific research, education programs, and media presentations, we equip Christians to stand for the Truth." Hillis and a number of his colleagues will be asking the State Employee Charitable Campaign Policy Committee, which oversees the State Employee Charitable Campaign, to remove the ICR from the list at its December 2, 2011, meeting. Asked by the American-Statesman for comment, current and former members of the committee were noncommittal. For the Austin American-Statesman's story, visit: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/ut-professors-object-to-creation-institutes-inclusion-in-2005416.html And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Texas, visit: http://ncse.com/news/texas TEXTBOOK FIGHTS IN TEXAS AGAIN? "Just when it looked like science education might be safe for a while in Texas public schools, the State Board of Education could soon be dragging the state back into the textbook wars over evolution," the Texas Freedom Network reported on its blog (November 23, 2011). At its most recent meeting, the Texas state board of education considered a proposed schedule on which new science textbooks would be adopted in 2013, in time for classroom use in 2014. "A full textbook adoption in 2013," TFN explained, "would give creationists another opportunity to pressure publishers into dumbing down instruction on evolution." Even in 2011, when only a limited adoption process for supplementary materials was conducted, there were attempts to introduce materials laced with creationist arguments as well as to undermine the treatment of evolution in scientifically accurate materials, as NCSE previously reported. Complicating the situation is the fact that owing to redistricting in Texas, all fifteen seats on the state board of education are up for grabs in the November 2012 election. And the impact of state textbook adoption may be muted in any case due to a new state law -- analyzed in detail by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund -- that allows local school districts to buy textbooks not on the state board's approved list. For TFN's blog post, visit: http://tfninsider.org/2011/11/23/science-back-in-the-crosshairs-in-texas/ For the analysis of the new state law (PDF), visit: http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/SB6analysisFINAL.pdf?docID=2801 And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Texas, visit: http://ncse.com/news/texas 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