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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2018/02/23

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The instructional materials bill in the Florida House of
Representatives passes committee, while a creationist lawsuit is
dismissed in Pennsylvania, and a last-minute threat to evolution
education is averted in Ohio.


Florida's House Bill 827 -- which would make it easier for
creationists and climate change deniers to smuggle instructional
materials they favor into public school classrooms -- was approved,
with slight modifications, by the House Education Committee on a 19-0
vote on February 15, 2018.

If enacted, the bill would allow members of the public to recommend
instructional materials for consideration by the state or their
district school board, which would then be required to allow the
publisher of those materials to submit a bid for evaluation.

Testifying in favor of the bill was a representative of the Florida
Citizens Alliance, who cited a report prepared by his organization on
the supposed flaws of textbooks currently in use in Florida's public

As Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens for Science noted in a February
15, 2018, blog post, the report complains of the presentation of
climate change and evolution (among other topics) in environmental
science and history textbooks.

As NCSE previously reported, the chief sponsor of HB 827, Bryon
Daniels (R-District 80), was the chief sponsor of a bill in 2017 that
was intended to make it easier for creationists and climate change
deniers to pester their school districts.

The Senate counterpart of the bill, Senate Bill 1644, was approved,
with slight modifications, by the Senate Education Committee on
February 12, 2018. As they currently stand, there are differences
between the two bills. Neither is yet scheduled for consideration on
the floor of its chamber of the legislature.

For information about Florida's Senate Bill 1644 and House Bill 827, visit: 

For Brandon Haught's blog post, visit: 

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


"For the second time in a decade, a state appeals court has told a
taxpayer that he can't sue his school district because it teaches the
theory of evolution in science class," reported PennLive (February 16,

In 2016, Thomas J. Harclerode filed a complaint against the Everett
(Pennsylvania) Area School District Superintendent and School Board,
asking the district "to stop promoting ... the theory of evolution in
their [sic] curriculum or giving any credence to them [sic] as well as
providing the Scientific information that refutes them [sic]."

In his complaint, Harclerode expressed distress that his taxes were
used in part to teach evolution, which he described as "the unproven
Century old Theory that Life began by Time and Chance and that Man is
a direct descendant of a lower life form." He also alleged that the
teaching of evolution is dangerous, citing the serial killer Jeffrey
Dahmer and the German dictator Adolf Hitler as supposed examples.

The trial court dismissed his complaint on the grounds that Harclerode
lacked standing. The state appeals court upheld the dismissal because
Harclerode failed to file a timely statement of errors with the trial
court, although it indicated that it would have affirmed the trial
court's decision on the issue of his lack of standing.

The state appeals court also observed that Harclerode's complaint was
"essentially identical" (except for the warning of the dangers of
evolution) to a complaint he filed in 2007, which was dismissed by the
trial court on the same grounds in 2008.

For PennLive's story, visit: 

For the ruling in the case (PDF), visit: 

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


On February 13, 2018, the Ohio state board of education voted to adopt
a new set of science standards -- although not without the appearance
of a last-minute amendment that seems to have been intended to
undermine the teaching of evolution.

Evolution is prominent in the new standards, including -- for the
first time -- at the middle school level. There was not a significant
public controversy over the treatment of evolution during the process,
unlike in 2002, as NCSE then reported.

But just before the February 13, 2018, meeting of the board, Sarah
Fowler (representing District 7), proposed to amend the high school
standards by adding the following "overarching content statement":


Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on
observation, measurement, experimentation, analysis, hypothesis
testing, and theory building, which attempt[s] to provide more
adequate explanations of natural phenomena; however, scientific
conclusions are necessarily based upon philosophical assumptions,
especially those interpreting the past or future. The nature of
science is to continually test and strengthen or rebut/refute existing
understandings of natural phenomena.

The aligned assessment must state the philosophical assumptions upon
which the expected answer is based.


The description of science in the first sentence follows a description
in the 2002 version of the standards (except that the standards
contain "which leads to" where Fowler's amendment contains "which
attempt[s] to").

The remainder of the first sentence, however, seems to reflect the
idea -- prominent in the "intelligent design" movement -- that
evolution is not scientific but based on philosophical views that are
inherently antithetical to theism.

At the board meeting, Fowler expressed concern that the high school
standards exhibited a philosophical bias which would disadvantage
students from different philosophical backgrounds, especially on state
assessment tests.

Although Fowler failed to identify the bias or any specific standards
that exemplified it, her colleague Cathye Flory (at large)
subsequently asked about how a hypothetical student who doesn't accept
"the Darwin theory" would be tested.

Fowler's amendment failed on a 2-14 vote, with Lisa Woods
(representing District 5) joining Fowler in voting for it. A
resolution to approve the standards as proposed then passed on a 15-1
vote, with Fowler the sole dissenter.

For the new standards (PDF), visit:

For video of the relevant portion of the board meeting, start at 1:37:00 of: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Ohio, 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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