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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2017/02/24

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

Ben Santer appears on Late Night. Victory in South Dakota! NCSE is
seeking to hire a Director of Teacher Support. And congratulations are
in order for NCSE's Emily Schoerning.


Ben Santer, a member of NCSE's board of directors, appeared on Late
Night with Seth Meyers on February 22, 2017.

Asked to comment on the federal government's shift in attitude to the
reality of climate change, Santer said, "It feels tough. Imagine, if
you will, that you spend your entire life trying to understand one
thing, and that thing is the cause of change in the climate system, to
the best of your ability. ... And then someone comes and dismisses
everything you've understood, all of that scientific understanding, as
a hoax, as a conspiracy, as worthless, as a contrived, phony, mess.
You have a choice. What do you do with that? You either can retreat to
your office, close the door, and be silent -- or you can choose to
push back against ignorance, and say, hey, this is not our
understanding. We know something about the causes of climate change."
Throughout his interview, he consistently recommended the latter
reaction, seeing, in the renewed attacks on climate science, a series
of teachable moments.

A noted climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
Santer was appearing on Late Night in his capacity as a private

For the video of the interview (starting at about 33:00), visit: 


South Dakota's Senate Bill 55, which would have empowered science
denial in the classroom, was defeated in the House Education Committee
on February 22, 2017. A motion to pass the bill was defeated on a 6-9
vote, while a subsequent motion to defer further consideration of the
bill to the forty-first legislative day -- effectively killing it --
passed on an 11-4 vote.

Among those testifying against the bill were representatives of the
state department of education, the Associated School Boards of South
Dakota, the School Administrators of South Dakota, the South Dakota
Education Association, and Climate Parents, a national movement of
parents, grandparents, and families mobilizing for clean energy and
climate solutions.

In the days before the hearing, there was a groundswell of opposition
to the bill, as NCSE previously reported, from both state and national
organizations, including scientific, science education, civil
liberties, and environmental groups. And a petition organized by
Climate Parents garnered almost 1450 signatures from South Dakotans
opposed to the bill.

The day before the vote, the Associated Press (February 21, 2017)
reviewed the controversy over the bill, quoting teachers, parents, and
scientists with concerns about SB 55, and citing a letter from
Governor Dennis Daugaard in which he told a group of Augustana
University professors that he views the bill as unnecessary.

A story in the University of South Dakota student newspaper The
Volante (February 21, 2017) quoted a state department of education
staffer as describing SB 55 as "attempting to fix a problem that
doesn't exist" and a number of professors at the university as
expressing opposition to the bill -- one describing it as

SB 55 reads: "No teacher may be prohibited from helping students
understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific
manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information
presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content
standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48."

SB 55 was one of four similar bills active in 2017, along with
Indiana's Senate Resolution 17, Oklahoma's Senate Bill 393, and
Texas's House Bill 1485; South Dakota's was the only of them to have
been passed by a chamber of the legislature but is the first of them
to die. About seventy such bills have been introduced across the
country since 2004.

For information about South Dakota's Senate Bill 55 from the legislature, visit: 

For the stories from the Associated Press and The Volante, visit: 

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


NCSE is seeking to hire a Director of Teacher Support. The full-time
position involves overseeing NCSE's current teacher support programs,
NCSEteach and Scientist in the Classroom, as well as developing and
implementing new programs that provide tangible and practical support
to as many science teachers as possible. The Director will also be
expected to deepen NCSE’s ongoing relationships with teacher
associations, climate change education groups, and the education
departments of scientific societies. Further information about duties,
qualifications, salary and benefits, and the application process is
available from NCSE's job page.

For NCSE's job page, visit: 


Emily Schoerning, NCSE's Director of Community Organizing and
Research, was elected as the National Science Teachers Association's
Research Division Director.

Schoerning is perhaps most familiar for her efforts at community
organizing, having overseen the pilot of NCSE's Science Booster Club
program in eastern Iowa and, lately, its national expansion, with new
clubs starting in ten states.

But all along she has been conducting the program also as a research
study, in close association with the University of Iowa. She continues
to accumulate data, and research studies showing the effects of the
program are slated for publication.

"Research is a crucial tool for guiding teaching practice," Schoerning
wrote in her candidacy statement for the post. "I will work to promote
cost-effective, high-impact research, and to make such research
accessible and meaningful to classroom teachers."

Schoerning will serve a three-year term as NSTA's Research Division
Director, from June 2017 to May 2020.

For information about NSTA, visit: 


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Glenn Branch discussing creationism and evolution in a new book of quotations: 

For NCSE's blog, 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.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax 510-788-7971 

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