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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2012/05/25

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Are private school scholarship programs promoting creationism at the
expense of the public schools? Plus a poll on attitudes toward
evolution in New Jersey, and the two antievolution bills in Missouri
are dead.


Private school scholarship programs "have been twisted to benefit
private schools at the expense of the neediest children," according to
The New York Times (May 22, 2012) -- and part of the problem involves
the teaching of creationism. At issue are programs in eight states
that allow taxpayers to donate money to non-profit groups that award
scholarships to students attending private schools; the taxpayers
receive tax credits in return for their donations. "This school year
alone, the programs redirected nearly $350 million that would have
gone into public budgets to pay for private school scholarships for
129,000 students," the Times reported, adding, "While the scholarship
programs have helped many children whose parents would have to scrimp
or work several jobs to send them to private schools, the money has
also been used to attract star football players, expand the payrolls
of the nonprofit scholarship groups and spread the theology of

"Some of the schools use textbooks produced by Bob Jones University
Press and A Beka Book, a Christian publisher in Pensacola, Fla.," the
Times observed. Such textbooks were at issue in the 2005 legal case
ACSI v. Stearns, where the plaintiffs charged that the University of
California system discriminated against applicants from Christian
schools by rejecting high school biology courses that use these
creationist textbooks as "inconsistent with the viewpoints and
knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community." In court
documents, the university system described the books as "inappropriate
for use as primary texts in college preparatory science courses due to
their characterizations of religious doctrine as scientific evidence,
scientific inaccuracies, failure to encourage critical thinking, and
overall un-scientific approach." The plaintiffs, though aided by the
expert witness Michael Behe, lost their case as well as their
subsequent appeals.

According to the Times, "Most of the private schools are religious.
Nearly a quarter of the participating schools in Georgia require
families to make a profession of religious faith, according to their
Web sites. Many of those schools adhere to a fundamentalist brand of
Christianity. A commonly used sixth-grade science text retells the
creation story contained in Genesis, omitting any other explanation."
?You have to keep in mind that the curriculum goes beyond the
textbook,? the headmaster of a Christian school in Georgia told the
Times, adding, ?Not only do we teach the students that creation is the
way the world was created and that God is in control and he made all
things, we also teach them what the false theories of the world are,
such as the Big Bang theory and Darwinism. We teach those as
fallacies.? The Times explained, "The programs are insulated from
provisions requiring church-state separation because the donations are
collected and distributed by the nonprofit scholarship groups."

For the article in The New York Times, visit: 

For NCSE's collection of documents from ACSI v. Stearns, visit: 


A bare majority of New Jerseyans accept evolution, according to a new
poll from Monmouth University and the Asbury Park Press. Asked
"whether or not you personally believe in ... the theory of evolution
-- that humans evolved from lower life forms," 51% of respondents said
yes, 42% said no, and 7% volunteered that they don't know. Democrats
and independents, males, college graduates, and people between 35 and
54 years of age were more likely to answer yes; Republicans, females,
those with only a high school education or less, and people over 55
years of age were more likely to answer no.

According to the report, "The poll was conducted by the Monmouth
University Polling Institute on April 11 to 15, 2012 with a statewide
random sample of 804 adult residents, including 644 contacted on a
landline telephone and 160 on a cell phone. Live interviewing services
were provided by Braun Research, Inc. and the telephone sample was
obtained from Survey Sampling International. ... For results based on
the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error
attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5
percentage points."

For the report of the poll (PDF), visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of evolution polls and surveys, visit: 


When the Missouri legislature adjourned on May 18, 2012, both
antievolution bills in the House of Representatives died in committee.
House Bill 1276 would have permitted teachers "to help students
understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the
scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of
biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution." House Bill 1227
would have required "the equal treatment of science instruction
regarding evolution and intelligent design," both in public elementary
and secondary schools and in "any introductory science course taught
at any public institution of higher education" in the state. Both
bills were referred to the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary
Education but never received a hearing.

For the text of Missouri's HB 1276 and 1227, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Missouri, 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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