Skip navigation.
Home
The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2017/03/10

  • : Function split() is deprecated in /var/www/vhosts/antievolution/public_html/drupal-4.7.3/modules/filter.module on line 1067.
  • : Function split() is deprecated in /var/www/vhosts/antievolution/public_html/drupal-4.7.3/modules/filter.module on line 1067.
  • : Function split() is deprecated in /var/www/vhosts/antievolution/public_html/drupal-4.7.3/modules/filter.module on line 1067.
  • : Function split() is deprecated in /var/www/vhosts/antievolution/public_html/drupal-4.7.3/modules/filter.module on line 1067.

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A busy week again! Nature calls on scientists to defend the integrity
of science education. New science standards are adopted in Louisiana,
while antievolution legislation surfaces in Arkansas, concerns mount
about Oklahoma's antiscience bill, and two antiscience bills die in
Iowa. NCSE endorses the March for Science. And a particularly
egregious antiscience bill appears in Iowa.

NATURE ISSUES A RALLYING CALL TO SCIENTISTS

The editorial in the March 8, 2017, issue of the prestigious
scientific journal Nature calls on researchers to defend the integrity
of science education -- and cites NCSE.

Alluding to Iowa's House File 480, which would have required teachers
in the state's public schools to include "opposing points of view or
beliefs" to accompany any instruction relating to evolution, the
origins of life, global warming, or human cloning, the editorial
continues, "It's the latest in a surge of what advocacy group the
National Center for Science Education calls 'antiscience' bills
introduced in US state houses in recent weeks."

"Although these proposed changes are typically presented by their
supporters as giving teachers the chance to discuss genuine scientific
controversies, in truth they are (very) thinly veiled attempts to
pursue political and religious agendas that have no place in school
science lessons -- for whatever age," the editorial observes, adding,
"[C]hildren ... deserve much better from those elected to serve them."

The editorial offers advice to concerned scientists: "join the voices
and campaigns that seek to protect educational standards, speak out
against damaging changes and support others who are already doing so,
including those in the education system. Get involved: visit schools,
meet teachers and assist people who want to continue to offer kids the
best possible education by helping to prepare materials and lesson
plans."

NCSE's executive director Ann Reid commented, "Kudos to Nature for its
rallying call to scientists. And a great way to pitch in, of course,
is to support NCSE!"

For the editorial in Nature, visit:
http://www.nature.com/news/rising-to-the-challenge-as-us-states-turn-the-screw-on-science-education-1.21589 

For NCSE's on-line donation system, visit:
https://ncse.com/donate 

NEW SCIENCE STANDARDS IN LOUISIANA

Louisiana's state board of elementary and secondary education voted to
adopt a new set of state science standards on March 8, 2017, according
to the Baton Rouge Advocate (March 8, 2017) -- but not without a nod
in the general direction of creationism.

At a meeting of a committee of the board held on March 7, testimony
and discussion centered on the treatment of evolution in the
standards, according to the Associated Press (March 7, 2017). After
critics complained that no alternatives to evolution were included in
the standards, the committee voted 7-2 to add a reference to the
so-called Louisiana Science Education Act. Thus amended, the standards
were unanimously approved.

As NCSE previously reported, the LSEA, passed and enacted in 2008,
calls on state and local administrators to help to promote "critical
thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion
of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to,
evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning";
these four topics were described as controversial in the original
draft of the legislation.

The LSEA also allows teachers to use "supplemental textbooks and other
instructional materials to help students understand, analyze,
critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner" if so
permitted by their local school boards. Writing in Slate in 2015, Zack
Kopplin presented evidence that the LSEA was invoked by Louisiana
school districts as justification for using creationist material in
their classrooms.

Beyond the explicit reference to evolution, the links between the LSEA
and creationism are abundantly clear. For instance, a sponsor of the
bill told the Hammond Daily Star (April 6, 2008) that the bill was
aimed at promoting the discussion of "scientific data related to
creationism," and Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal told NBC News in
2013 that the LSEA permits the teaching of creationism.

The effort, led by Zack Kopplin, to repeal the LSEA have been endorsed
by a host of scientific and science education organizations, including
the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National
Association of Biology Teachers,the American Institute for Biological
Sciences, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
and the American Society for Cell Biology.

The Advocate reports that the new standards will take effect in the
2018-2019 school year, with the 2017-2018 school year serving as a
transitional period for teacher training and field testing. It remains
to be seen what, if any, effect the mention of the LSEA will have.

For the story in the Baton Rouge Advocate, visit:
http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/education/article_5a25fccc-03ac-11e7-9063-fb6e0e6d0c3e.html 

For the Associated Press story (via the New Orleans Times-Picayune), visit:
http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2017/03/science_evolution_standards.html 

For Zack Kopplin's story in Slate, visit:
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/04/creationism_in_louisiana_public_school_science_classes_school_boards_and.single.html 

For the story in the Hammond Daily Star, visit:
http://www.hammondstar.com/local_news/news/bill-allows-teaching-creationism-as-science/article_95832759-1abf-54c0-b67a-d2dbb99a570f.html 

For Bobby Jindal's comments about the LSEA to NBC News (at about 9:00), visit:
http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/51522589#51522589 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/louisiana 

ANTIEVOLUTION BILL IN ARKANSAS

Arkansas's House Bill 2050, filed as a shell bill on March 6, 2017 --
the last day on which bills may be filed in the 2017 regular session
-- would, if enacted, "allow public schools to teach creationism and
intelligent design as theories alongside the theory of evolution,"
according to THV 11 (March 6, 2017). The bill was filed by Mary
Bentley (R-District 73).

The federal courts have repeatedly held that teaching creationism,
whether under the guise of "creation science" or "intelligent design,"
is unconstitutional. Among the relevant decisions is McLean v.
Arkansas (1982), in which Arkansas's Balanced Treatment for
Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act was held to violate the
Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

HB 2050 is the only antievolution bill to be filed in Arkansas since
2005's House Bill 2607, similarly filed as a shell bill and
subsequently amended. If enacted, the bill would have required the
state Department of Education to include "intelligent design" in its
educational frameworks and also encouraged teachers in the state to
include it in their lesson plans. HB 2607 died in committee.

For the (placeholder) text of Arkansas's House Bill 2050 (PDF), visit:
http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2017/2017R/Bills/HB2050.pdf 

For the story from THV 11, visit:
http://www.thv11.com/news/local/on-final-day-to-file-bills-ark-legislators-introduce-slew-of-shell-bills/420182993 

For the decision in McLean v. Arkansas, visit:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/mclean-v-arkansas.html 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Arkansas, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/arkansas 

CONCERNS MOUNT ABOUT OKLAHOMA'S ANTISCIENCE BILL

Two additional national organizations have expressed their concern to
the Oklahoma Senate about Senate Bill 393, which would empower science
denial in the classroom.

In a March 2, 2017, letter, the American Institute of Biological
Sciences described SB 393 as "bad for science, science education, and
the future economic health and well[-]being of Oklahoma." The letter
explained, "If Senate Bill 393 is enacted, it is our understanding
that it would permit teachers to miseducate Oklahoma's students about
any topic a teacher deems controversial, and would prevent state and
local administrators from intervening. Litigation will almost
certainly result if this bill is passed, and that will do little more
than cost the state money that could be better used to support
teachers and students," adding, "Importantly, there is no scientific
controversy about the legitimacy of evolution or global climate
change."

In a March 6, 2017, letter, the National Coalition Against Censorship
warned, "In contrast to its title, the bill is likely to undermine the
integrity of science education by allowing classroom instruction to
deviate from, and possibly contradict, professionally developed
science standards." The letter explained, "The First Amendment has
never been interpreted to allow, much less require, the dilution of
educational standards. Scientists and science educators should
determine together what should be taught in science class. Individual
teachers should not be permitted to contravene that determination in
favor of their own personal opinions; nor should legislators enact a
bill that would allow or encourage them to do so."

The National Association of Biology Teachers, as NCSE previously
reported, already expressed its opposition to SB 393 in a February 15,
2015, letter, which warned, "The wording of this legislation easily
allows non-scientific and false explanations for scientific topics to
be inappropriately introduced into the science classroom." The letter
explained, "NABT is confident that the students of Oklahoma are best
served when scientific integrity is maintained in the science
classroom. We respectfully request that the state reject SB 393 in
support of science education that imparts to students an understanding
of science based on the key components of the nature of science and
content agreed upon by scientists and professional educators."

SB 393 passed the Senate Education Committee on February 27, 2017. It
is not yet scheduled to be heard on the floor of the Senate; March 23,
2017, is the last day on which it could pass the Senate.

For information about Oklahoma's Senate Bill 393 from the legislature, visit:
http://www.oklegislature.gov/BillInfo.aspx?Bill=SB393 

For the three letters (all PDF), visit:
https://ncse.com/files/Oklahoma%20Letter%203.2017%20final.pdf 
https://ncse.com/files/SB393_LetterNCAC.pdf 
https://ncse.com/files/Reject%20OK%20SB393%20.pdf 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Oklahoma, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/oklahoma 

TWO DOWN IN IOWA

Two bills in the Iowa legislature that would have undermined the
integrity of science education died on March 3, 2017, when a deadline
for bills to pass committee in their house of origin expired.

House File 480, introduced and referred to the House Education
Committee on March 1, 2017, would, if enacted, have required teachers
in Iowa's public schools to include "opposing points of view or
beliefs" to accompany any instruction relating to evolution, the
origins of life, global warming, or human cloning. There was no
requirement that those "points of view or beliefs" have any scientific
credibility. In 2015, Iowa adopted the Next Generation Science
Standards, so presumably evolution and global warming are presented in
the state's classrooms.

House File 140, introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives on
January 31, 2017, and referred to the House Education Committee,
would, if enacted, have prohibited the state board of education from
"adopting, approving, or requiring implementation of the [N]ext
[G]eneration [S]cience [S]tandards by school districts and accredited
nonpublic schools." The lead sponsor of HF 140, Sandy Salmon
(R-District 63), is on record as opposing the NGSS in part of their
treatment of evolution and climate change.

Both bills were opposed by the Iowa State Education Association and
the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, according to the
legislature's website.

For the text of House Fill 480 and House File 140, visit:
https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=87&ba=hf480 
https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=87&ba=hf140 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Iowa, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/iowa 

NCSE AND THE MARCH FOR SCIENCE

NCSE is among the scientific, academic, and educational institutions
endorsing the March for Science that will take place in Washington DC
on April 22, 2017, with satellite marches planned in almost three
hundred communities across the world. The goal of the march is to
celebrate science and its crucial role in protecting the health of our
communities, the safety of our families, the education of our children
and the foundation of our economy and jobs.

As NCSE's executive director Ann Reid explained in a March 6, 2017,
blog post, "we believe that the marches will be a powerful and
positive reminder that there is something that virtually everyone
agrees on: the value and importance of science. ... While it is
certainly true that Americans seem to be intractably divided over more
issues than ever before, support for science is something that all of
us share, and can continue to share."

Among the partners with the March for Science besides NCSE are the
American Anthropological Association, the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union,  the American
Society for Cell Biology,the Entomological Society of America,
Research America, Science Debate, Sigma Xi, and the Union of Concerned
Scientists.

For the March for Science, visit:
https://www.marchforscience.com/ 

And for Ann Reid's blog post, visit:
https://ncse.com/blog/2017/03/why-ncse-is-marching-science-0018478 

ANTISCIENCE BILL IN IOWA

Iowa's House File 480, introduced and referred to the House Education
Committee on March 1, 2017, would, if enacted, require teachers in
Iowa's public schools to include "opposing points of view or beliefs"
to accompany any instruction relating to evolution, the origins of
life, global warming, or human cloning.

There is no requirement that those "points of view or beliefs" have
any scientific credibility -- only that they are opposed to whatever
material is presented in the classroom. In 2015, Iowa adopted the Next
Generation Science Standards, so presumably evolution and global
warming are presented in the state's classrooms.

"The rudiments of evolution and global warming, which are what is
presented in Iowa's science standards, are scientifically
uncontroversial," commented NCSE's executive director Ann Reid.
"Passage of House File 480 would thus require the miseducation of
Iowa's students on these topics and damage the integrity of science
education in Iowa."

Echoing the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008, the
bill also provides that teachers may use supplementary instructional
materials "to help understand, analyze, critique, and review
scientific theories in an objective manner" with the approval of the
board of directors of their school district.

"The intention here is evidently to allow local school districts to
allow their teachers to present creationism in their classrooms,"
NCSE's Reid observed. "The federal courts have repeatedly held that
teaching creationism in the public schools is unconstitutional, so
passage of HF 480 is likely to result in unnecessary conflict and even
litigation."

The bill is sponsored by Skyler Wheeler (R-District 4), Larry Sheets
(R-District 80), Ralph C. Watts (R-District 19), Rob Taylor
(R-District 44), Sandy Salmon (R-District 63) -- the sponsor of House
File 140, which aims to undermine Iowa's adoption of the NGSS -- Tedd
Gassman (R-District 7), and Terry C. Baxter (R-District 8).

Already listed on the legislative website as opposing HF 480 are the
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund and the Iowa State Education
Association, which represents teachers, administrators, and
educational support personnel from every level of public education in
the state.

The only similar bill ever to appear in Iowa previously was House File
183 in 2009, which would have applied only to higher education and
which would have allowed but not required instructors to present "the
full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical
evolution." HF 183 died in committee.

For the text of Iowa's House File 480, visit:
https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ba=HF%20480&ga=87 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Iowa, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/iowa 

WHAT'S NEW AT NCSE'S BLOG?

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

* Ann Reid discussing the March for Science:
https://ncse.com/blog/2017/03/why-ncse-is-marching-science-0018478 

For NCSE's blog, visit:
http://ncse.com/blog 

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.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
510-601-7203
fax 510-788-7971
branch@ncse.com 
http://ncse.com 

Check out NCSE's blog:
http://ncse.com/blog 

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