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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2012/12/14

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A creationist legislator in Kentucky says that he won't push for
creationism there, there is a mixed result for climate change in
Nebraska's new state social studies standards, and newspapers in
Indiana denounce the antievolution bill expected in that state's
legislature. Plus a new issue of RNCSE is available on-line, and
NCSE's Minda Berbeco appears in California Classroom Science.


The new chair of the Kentucky Senate Standing Committee on Education
"has no intention of using his new role to help push his personal
belief in creationism into the curriculum of public schools," reports
the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 12, 2012). Mike Wilson
(R-District 32) was among the state legislators who, in August 2012,
expressed concern about the presence of evolution in the state science
standards and associated end-of-course testing, as NCSE previously
reported. According to the Courier-Journal, Wilson then said, "My
concern is that our students are indoctrinated into one way of
thinking without allowing them to have intellectual freedom," adding,
"And that really bothers me."

His remarks were remembered when he was recently appointed to chair
the committee. The Courier-Journal (December 13, 2012) editorialized,
"Religious ideology has no place in public education. Sen. Wilson
needs to park his personal beliefs outside the committee room if he
truly wants to use his new chairmanship to make a difference in
Kentucky." Apparently in agreement, Wilson told the Courier-Journal
that although he believes in creationism, he is not interested in
pursuing the issue in his new role in the Senate. He explained,
"Number one, I don't think there’s sufficient support for it within
the General Assembly. Number two, I don't think that's the most
important thing by any means that we need to be focused on right now."

Previous legislative activity aimed at undermining the teaching of
evolution in Kentucky's public schools includes House Bill 169 in 2011
and House Bill 397 in 2010, both based on the so-called Louisiana
Science Education Act; both bills died in committee. Kentucky is
apparently unique in having a statute (Kentucky Revised Statutes
158.177) on the books that authorizes teachers to teach "the theory of
creation as presented in the Bible" and to "read such passages in the
Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of
creation." Yet the Courier-Journal (January 11, 2006) reported that in
a November 2005 survey of the state's 176 school districts, none was
teaching or discussing "intelligent design."

For the story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, visit: 

For the editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal, visit: 

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


Climate change is included in the new set of state social studies
standards for Nebraska -- but in a way that misrepresents the
scientific consensus on global climate change. In particular, the
adopted indicator 12.3.5.c reads, "Evaluate successful solutions and
problems related to the physical environment from a geographical
perspective (e.g., the role of irrigation, contour farming and hybrid
seeds in expansion of agriculture in the Midwest; the role of air
conditioning in the industrialization of the South; recent global
climate change theories, and evidence that supports and refutes such
theories)." The indicator is part of the new set of social science
standards adopted by the Nebraska state board of education on December
7, 2012.

In a previous draft of the standards, the same indicator (then labeled
12.3.5.d) read, "Evaluate environmental geographical issues related to
the natural environment (e.g., climate change, loss of biodiversity,
deforestation, ozone layer, air pollution, water pollution, disposal
of waste, flood plain management)." But as the Omaha World-Herald
(November 16, 2012) observed, climate change (along with American
exceptionalism) was a major point of contention during public
testimony on the draft standards. In the end, the World-Herald
(December 7, 2012) subsequently reported, "Eleventh-hour changes in an
earlier draft appeared to have soothed board members' concerns over
the treatment of 'American exceptionalism' and climate change."

The result is equivocal, explained NCSE's Minda Berbeco, who worked
with concerned Nebraskans to support a scientifically accurate
treatment of climate change in the standards. "On the one hand,
climate change wasn't even mentioned in the previous set of social
studies standards, and still isn't mentioned in the current set of
science standards [adopted in 2010], so it's good for it to be
acknowledged in the social studies standards now. On the other hand,
the wording of the new indicator encourages social studies teachers to
misrepresent global climate change as scientifically controversial.
Whether in the social studies classroom or the science classroom, it's
scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible to preach
climate change denial."

For the adopted standards, visit: 

For the stories in the Omaha World-Herald, visit: 

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


Indiana's newspapers are reacting to the prospective antievolution
bill in Indiana. As NCSE previously reported, state senator Dennis
Kruse (R-District 14) plans to introduce a bill that, in the words of
the Indianapolis Star (December 4, 2012), "allows students to
challenge teachers on issues, forcing them to provide evidence to back
up their lessons." Kruse told the Star, "I would call it 'truth in
education' to make sure that what is being taught is true ... if a
student thinks something isn't true, then they can question the
teacher and the teacher would have to come up with some kind of
research to support that what they are teaching is true or not true."
While Kruse was not quoted as mentioning evolution in particular, his
history of antievolution legislation is suggestive.

The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel (December 6, 2012) remarked, "Proposed
'truth in education' legislation by Republican state Sen. Dennis Kruse
of Auburn won't mention the terms 'creationism' or 'intelligent
design' or 'evolution,' but don't doubt for a second that this is one
more attempt to force a religious debate into science classrooms,"
adding, "The General Assembly should have none of it." The editorial
echoed the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association in
commenting, "The burden on teachers would be great," and quipping,
"It's also easy to imagine students gaming the process and creating
all sorts of havoc. OK, teacher, prove we actually landed on the moon.
And, oh, while you're at it, prove it isn't made of green cheese."

Tim Swarens, writing in the Indianapolis Star (December 7, 2012),
offered a prediction about the bill: "Perhaps it's an article of
faith, but I choose to believe that Bosma [the speaker of the Indiana
House of Representatives], Behning [the chair of the House Education
Committee] and a majority of lawmakers will see that Kruse is badly
misguided in pushing a bill that, if implemented, would undercut
educators, embolden classroom mischief-makers, and send the wrong
message to the rest of the nation about a state that wants to grow its
science and technology sectors." Describing it as a misguided effort
at legislative micromanagement of the classroom, Swarens concluded,
"Kruse's bill should quietly expire as the 2013 session unfolds."

The Lafayette Journal and Courier (December 7, 2012) was especially
concerned about Indiana's reputation, commenting, "For a state that
lays claim to being a leader in education reform, it sure has a funny
way of showing it when it comes to science education ... Indiana
doesn't need another reason to look like the backwater hinterlands."
The editorial also noted that Kruse is on record about his motivation,
quoting him as saying, with reference to the prospective bill, "I'd
guess 80 percent of Indiana would be oriented with the Bible and
creation. Where you're at, at Purdue or IU, you might have more who
are for evolution. But once you get out away from there, out into the
hinterlands, I think you’ll see a lot more people receptive to it."

And Matthew Tully, writing in the Indianapolis Star (December 8,
2012), remarked, "Less than a year after Kruse and others in the state
Senate failed to push an embarrassment of a bill through the
legislature that would have allowed the teaching of creationism in
science classes, the Auburn Republican is at it again. ... It's a
silly idea at a time when seriousness is needed in the General
Assembly. It's a distraction when the legislature should be focused on
core education issues. It's a reminder that ideology far too often
gets in the way of tackling important issues under the Statehouse
dome. And it's an attempt to walk through the back door a bill that --
thanks to sensible lawmakers, outraged voters and the courts -- can't
make it through the front."

For the story in the Indianapolis Star, visit: 

For the editorial in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, visit: 

For Tim Swarens's column in the Indianapolis Star, visit: 

For the editorial in the Lafayette Journal and Courier, visit: 

For Matthew Tully's column in the Indianapolis Star, visit: 

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


NCSE is pleased to announce that the latest issue of Reports of the
National Center for Science Education is now available on-line. The
issue -- volume 32, number 6 -- features Lorence G. Collins and
Barbara J. Collins offering "More Geological Reasons Noah's Flood Did
Not Happen." For his regular People and Places column, Randy Moore
discusses the career of Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, who in the 1920s banned
the use of biology textbooks that covered evolution. And James Shapiro
responds to them review of his book by Laurence A. Moran.

Plus a host of reviews of books on the history and philosophy of
biology: Robert Arp reviews the anthology Evolutionary Theory: Five
Questions, Francesca Merlin reviews the anthology Transformations of
Lamarckism, Andrew J. Petto reviews Carol Kaesuk Yoon's Naming Nature,
Doren Recker reviews Elliott Sober's Did Darwin Write the Origin
Backwards?; Brian Regal reviews Michael Ruse's Defining Darwin, and
John S. Wilkins reviews the anthology The Cambridge Companion to
Darwin (second edition).

All of these articles, features, and reviews are freely available in
PDF form from Members of NCSE will shortly be 
receiving in the mail the print supplement to Reports 32:6, which, in
addition to summaries of the on-line material, contains news from the
membership, a regular column in which NCSE staffers offer personal
reports on what they've been doing to defend the teaching of
evolution, a new regular column interviewing NCSE's favorite people,
and more besides. (Not a member? Join today!)

For the table of contents for RNCSE 32:6, visit: 

For information about joining NCSE, visit: 


NCSE's Minda Berbeco contributed "Getting the Science Right: Teaching
Climate Change in the Classroom" to California Classroom Science, a
publication of the California Science Teachers Association. "As the
newest Programs and Policy Director here at the National Center for
Science Education, I am constantly asked where educators can find good
lesson plans and classroom activities to teach about climate change,"
she writes, citing three resources in particular -- the Climate
Literacy & Energy Awareness Network, the Alliance for Climate
Education, and the ECO2School in Sonoma County, California -- as
models of good scientific and pedagogical practice.

Berbeco concludes, "Students will need to have a good understanding of
the science of climate change in order to make educated and thoughtful
policy decisions about the consequences of climate change in the
future. Unfortunately, many teachers avoid the subject, because they
feel poorly prepared to address the many questions that can arise or
are concerned about bringing controversy into their classroom. In
addition, the resources are not yet in place at the state level to
encourage them to present the science accurately and effectively. With
lessons and programs such as the ones described here, though, it is
becoming easier for teachers to integrate climate change into their
science teaching."

For Berbeco's article, visit: 

For the resources she cites, visit: 

And for NCSE's resources on teaching climate change, 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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