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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2017/04/28

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

NCSE's response to a climate change misinformation campaign is here.
Alabama's antiscience resolution, now in the Senate, is emphatically
denounced. The Weather Channel focuses on Idaho's state science
standards. Plus a victory in Texas, but a cause for alarm in Florida.


NCSE is pleased to announce the on-line release of three flyers
addressing the Heartland Institute's recent mailing of unsolicited
climate change denial propaganda to science teachers across the

"Have You Received This? Then Read This" (one page) briefly explains
why using the material in the classroom would be a mistake. "Top 5
Reasons Why This Book Doesn't Belong in Classroom" (four pages)
amplifies, noting that the material gets the facts wrong,
misrepresents the scientific consensus, slanders the gold standard of
climate science review, contradicts state science standards,
textbooks, and curricula, and uses sham citations and dishonest
tactics. "Heartland's Claims Against the 97% Climate Consensus" (six
pages) debunks a central claim of the material -- that there is not a
robust scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change -- and
explains the significance of the scientific consensus.

For further resources about the material, see the April 14, 2017,
summary at NCSE's blog as well as a later story in Deutsche Welle
(April 21, 2017) and Curt Stager's recent op-ed in The New York Times
(April 27, 2017).

For the flyers (all PDF), visit: 

And for the listed further resources, visit: 


Writing on (April 27, 2017), Amanda Glaze denounced Alabama's
House Joint Resolution 78, which passed the House and is now headed
for the floor of the Senate.

As NCSE previously reported, the resolution describes "[b]iological
evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human
cloning" as scientifically controversial and encourages teachers to
present "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of scientific
theories covered in the state's science standards.

Glaze focused on the conflict between the advice offered by HJR 78 and
the new set of state science standards adopted in 2015, which she
described as laying "the framework for Alabama students to achieve the
scientific understanding and abilities they will need to prosper in
the twenty-first century."

"Biological evolution and global warming are mentioned in the
standards," Glaze wrote, "because ... they are important scientific
principles, long accepted and well understood by the scientific
community. By the same token, nIo 'scientific weaknesses' of
biological evolution and global warming are included in the

Glaze also observed that the lead sponsor of HJR 78 acknowledged that
his intention was to encourage the teaching of creationism in the
public schools of the state, asking, "So HJR 78 is aimed at
encouraging teachers not only to miseducate their students but also to
violate the law of the land. Is this a responsible legislative goal?"

She concluded her column with a salute to Alabama's "wide and deep"
contributions to science, adding, "Rejecting HJR 78 would send a
message to Alabama's science teachers, and to the world, that the
integrity of science education, and science itself, continues to
matter to Alabama."

A native Alabaman who earned her Ph.D. at the University of Alabama,
Glaze is now Assistant Professor of Middle Grades & Secondary Science
Education at Georgia Southern University.

For Glaze's column at, visit: 

For the text of Alabama's House Joint Resolution 78 (PDF), visit: 

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


A story on the Weather Channel's website (April 22, 2017) examined the
controversy over the legislature's deletion of climate change from the
state science standards in detail. "The Idaho Legislature recently
voted to remove the requirement to teach climate science to the
state’s students. How did the state get here and what happens next?"

As NCSE previously reported, the legislature decided to delete five
passages -- those discussing climate change and human impact on the
environment -- from a proposed new set of state science standards for
Idaho. The decision is temporary, since a revised set of standards
will be submitted to the legislature again in 2018.

The Weather Channel's reporter talked to a particularly wide group of
Idahoans, including students, teachers, legislators (some of whom
voted for and some of whom voted against the deletion), scientists,
businesspeople in areas likely to be affected by climate change, such
as agriculture, skiing, and timber, and wildlife managers.

NCSE's Glenn Branch described the deletion as "unprecedented," "a lot
more blatant than what other states have done," and "scientifically
unwarranted and pedagogically harmful." "If [the standards] remain as
they are, Idaho will have a good claim to have the least adequate
state science standards in the country with regard to climate change.”

The Weather Channel's story ended on a high note, quoting the Boise
School District's science curriculum director as saying, "In the Boise
School District we will continue to teach climate change and
investigate human impacts on biodiversity even though they are not
mentioned in the standards."

For the Weather Channel's story, visit: 

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


In a victory for the integrity of science education in Texas, the
Texas state board of education approved a revision to the state
science standards that removed language that opened the door to

Kathy Miller, the president of the Texas Freedom Network, commented,
"The politicians on the state board have finally listened to
scientists and classroom professionals who know what students need to
get a 21st-century education."

At issue were four standards inserted into the Texas state science
standards by members of the state board of education, without input
from scientists and educators, during the last revision of the
standards in 2009.

The objectionable standards called for students to analyze "all sides
of scientific evidence" and to evaluate "sudden appearance, stasis" in
the fossil record, "the complexity of the cell," and "the DNA molecule
for self-replicating life."

The history as well as the pedagogical and scientific problems of
these standards is described in detail by Ryan Valentine of the Texas
Freedom Network, Ben Pierce of Southwestern University, and John Wise
of Southern Methodist University in a 2015 report.

A panel of educators and scientists charged with streamlining the
science standards for biology recommended the removal of the standards
on the grounds that they raised issues too difficult for teachers to
present and students to understand.

On February 1, 2017, the board considered the panel's recommendations
about the four standards, voting to remove the "all sides of evidence"
standard -- the successor to Texas's notorious "strengths and
weaknesses" standard.

Although the board decided not to remove the fossil record standard as
recommended by the panel, it accepted a version of the standard that
the panel suggested as a possible  alternative not as problematic as
the original.

And the board voted to retain the complexity standard and the DNA
standard, revised to require students to "evaluate" scientific
explanations of the origin of DNA and the complexity of prokaryotic
and eukaryotic cells.

The February votes were only preliminary, however. At the board's
April 18, 2017, meeting, as the Houston Chronicle (April 19, 2017)
reported, the panel recommended slightly but importantly different
versions of the complexity and DNA standards.

Ron Wetherington of Southern Methodist University, a member of the
panel, explained that words like "evaluate" are seen as invitations by
ideologues "to explore creationism and intelligent design as
explanations for the origin of life," in the Chronicle's words.

In a preliminary vote on April 18, 2017, the board voted unanimously
to accept the panel's proposed revisions, particularly the
substitution of "examine" for "evaluate" in the complexity and DNA
standards. The decision was clinched by a final vote on April 21,

Welcoming the vote via Twitter, the Texas Freedom Network summed up
the situation: "SBOE votes & for the 1st time in 30 years, standards
are free of junk science designed to cast doubt on evolution. No, for

For the Texas Freedom Network's statement on the final vote, visit: 

For the Texas Freedom Network's report on the objectionable standards
(PDF), visit: 

For the article in the Houston Chronicle, visit: 

For the Texas Freedom Network's summary tweet, visit: 

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


On April 20, 2017, House Bill 989 passed the Florida House of
Representatives on a 94-25 vote, while its counterpart, Senate Bill
1210, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 16-0 vote. Both
bills are aimed at empowering taxpayers to object to the use of
specific instructional materials in the public schools — and as NCSE
previously reported, climate change and evolution are clearly among
the intended targets.

Before the vote, Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens for Science was
quoted in the Orlando Sentinel (April 18, 2017) as predicting that if
the bills are passed, it would be a "disaster," explaining, "school
boards will become inundated with demands that certain books be
outright banned and that schools must discontinue using textbooks that
don't mesh with a vocal minority's ideological views."

Senate Bill 1210 is apparently not yet scheduled for a hearing on the
floor of the Senate. If it passes the Senate, it will still be
necessary for the legislature to reconcile the House and the Senate
versions of the bill, which were originally identical but were
subsequently modified in different ways by their respective
committees. The last day of the legislative session is May 5, 2017.

For information on Florida's House Bill 989 and Senate Bill 1210, visit: 

For the article in the Orlando Sentinel, visit: 

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


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

* Ann Reid contemplating the March for Science speech she would have given: 

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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