NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2012/06/01
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Just two seats remain on NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon! Plus a First Amendment award for Zack Kopplin, and the end of the road for three legislative attempts to attack the teaching of evolution and of climate change in Oklahoma.
NCSE AND THE GRAND CANYON 2012 Explore the Grand Canyon with NCSE! Only two are still available for NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon -- as featured in the documentary No Dinosaurs in Heaven. From July 16 to 24, 2012, NCSE will again explore the wonders of creation and evolution on a Grand Canyon river run conducted by NCSE's Genie Scott and Steve Newton. Because this is an NCSE trip, we offer more than just the typically grand float down the Canyon, the spectacular scenery, fascinating natural history, brilliant night skies, exciting rapids, delicious meals, and good company. It is, in fact, a unique "two-model" raft trip, on which we provide both the creationist view of the Grand Canyon (maybe not entirely seriously) and the evolutionist view -- and let you make up your own mind. To get a glimpse of the fun, watch the short videos filmed during the 2011 trip, posted on NCSE's YouTube site. The cost of the excursion is $2625; a deposit of $500 will hold your spot. Seats are limited: call, write, or e-mail now. For information about the trip, visit: http://ncse.com/about/excursions/gcfaq For information about No Dinosaurs in Heaven, visit: http://www.nodinos.com/ For NCSE's YouTube site, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/NatCen4ScienceEd FIRST AMENDMENT AWARD FOR KOPPLIN NCSE is delighted to congratulate Zack Kopplin, the leader of the effort to repeal the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, on his receiving the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. According to a press release from the Playboy Foundation quoted by the Alexandria, Louisiana, Town Talk (May 27, 2012), the award was established in 1979 and is intended to "honor individuals who have made significant contributions in the vital effort to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for all Americans. The award winners, many of whom are unsung heroes, come from various walks of life." Kopplin will receive a cash award of $5,000 and a commemorative plaque. Kopplin launched the effort to repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which encourages the state's science teachers to miseducate their students about the scientific standing of evolution and climate change, as a high school senior in 2011. He renewed his effort in 2012, aided with the support of seventy-eight Nobel laureates -- "nearly 40% of all living Nobel laureate scientists in physics, chemistry, or physiology or medicine," as he observed in a press release. Senate Bill 384, which would have repealed the law, was rejected on a 2-1 vote in the Senate Education Committee in April 2012. Its 2011 counterpart, Senate Bill 70, was tabled by the same committee on a 5-1 vote in March 2011. Endorsing the repeal effort -- in addition to the seventy-eight Nobelists -- have been the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the Louisiana Coalition for Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Society for the Study of Evolution together with the Society of Systematic Biologists and the American Society of Naturalists, the Clergy Letter Project, the New Orleans City Council, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Kopplin's initiative was previously honored by NCSE, which awarded him (and the University of California Museum of Paleontology's Judy Scotchmoor) its Friend of Darwin award for 2012. Kopplin is the second person to receive both a Hefner Award and NCSE's Friend of Darwin Award, following Patricia Princehouse, Lecturer in Philosophy and Evolutionary Biology at Case Western Reserve University. NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott received a Hefner Award in 1999 and subsequently served as a judge on the Playboy Foundation's award committee in 2006. For the article in Town Talk, visit: http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20120527/NEWS01/205270336/Hasten-From-Playboy-honors-jet-setting-governor For the press release announcing the support of the Nobel laureates, visit: http://www.repealcreationism.com/678/75-nobel-laureate-scientists-call-for-repeal-of-louisiana-science-education-act/ For the announcement of NCSE's Friend of Darwin awards for 2012, visit: http://ncse.com/news/2012/03/friend-darwin-awards-2012-007242 And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: http://ncse.com/news/louisiana OKLAHOMA OKAY AT LAST When the Oklahoma legislature adjourned sine die on May 25, 2012, no fewer than three legislative attempts to attack the teaching of evolution and of climate change were finally laid to rest. All three would have encouraged teachers in the public schools of the Sooner State to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of "controversial" topics such as "biological evolution" and "global warming." Senate Bill 1742 was explicitly modeled in part on the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, passed and enacted in 2008 as Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1. The sole sponsor of SB 1742 was Josh Brecheen (R-District 6). It was his second attempt at antievolution legislation; in 2011, he introduced Senate Bill 554, which he described in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 24, 2010) as "requiring every publically [sic] funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution." SB 1742 died in committee on March 1, 2012. House Bill 1551 was originally introduced by Sally Kern (R-District 84) and was rejected by the House Common Education Committee in 2011, but it was resurrected by Gus Blackwell (R-District 61) and passed by that committee, which heard no testimony from the public, in 2012. HB 1551 passed the House of Representatives on a 56-12 vote on March 15, 2012. The bill was then sent to the Senate Education Committee, where it died on April 5, 2012, the deadline for single-assigned house bills (such as HB 1551) to be reported from their senate committees. A last-ditch effort was a proposal from Steve Russell (R-District 45) to amend House Bill 2341, which dealt with unrelated educational matters (extending a deadline by which local school districts are required to meet certain standards for media, equipment, and textbooks) and was passed by the House on March 7, 2012, to include the language of HB 1551. The amendment would have been considered when the bill came to a floor vote in the Senate, but it was not brought to the floor before April 26, 2012, the deadline for bills to receive their third reading in the opposite house. Organizations opposing these efforts to attack the teaching of evolution and of climate change included the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and -- as always -- the indefatigable grassroots organization Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education. For the website of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, visit: http://www.oklascience.org/ And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Oklahoma, visit: http://ncse.com/news/oklahoma 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 and climate education and threats to them. -- 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