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NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2018/05/25

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The Association for Science Education expresses its opposition to the
undermining of evolution in Arizona's draft science standards, while
Arizona's media lays the blame at the door of the state's
superintendent of public instruction. And the creationist resolution
in Louisiana is out of commission.

A BRITISH REPROACH FOR DIANE DOUGLAS

In a May 15, 2018, letter to Arizona's Superintendent of Public
Instruction Diane Douglas, the Association for Science Education --
representing the United Kingdom's community of science educators --
expressed its opposition to the changes to the Arizona draft science
standards that compromised the treatment of evolution.

As NCSE previously reported, staffers at the Arizona state department
of education tampered with the treatment of evolution and allied
topics in the standards -- not long after Douglas endorsed the
teaching of "intelligent design" along with evolution at a Republican
candidate forum in Tempe in November 2017, as KPHX (May 18, 2018)
reported.

In its letter, the ASE noted that its publication Working with Big
Ideas of Science Education served as a basis for the draft standards
in Arizona. "Among the fourteen Big Ideas is evolution," the ASE
wrote. But the description of evolution in the draft standards differs
from the description in Working with Big Ideas in ways "that deserve
comment from ASE."

After explaining in detail the inappropriateness of the divergences,
the ASE summarized by recommending the restoration of the original
description of evolution from Working with Big Ideas: "Not doing so
would mischaracterize the Big Idea of Evolution and undermine the
scientific literacy of Arizona's students."

The ASE ended its letter by saluting "the hard work and good
intentions of those who have contributed to [the standards]," adding,
"Whether in London or Phoenix, Birmingham or Tucson, Manchester or
Mesa, students deserve our best efforts to ensure that they receive
the best science education possible."

The draft standards are available for public comment on-line at the
state department of education's website until May 28, 2018. NCSE
strongly encourages Arizonans concerned about the integrity of science
education in their state to review the standards and comment
appropriately; NCSE is available to help.

For the letter from ASE (PDF), visit:
https://ncse.com/files/ASE_letter_to_Arizona.pdf 

For the KPHX story, visit:
https://www.12news.com/article/news/arizona-could-roll-back-teaching-of-evolution-in-classroom/75-555209992 

For information about the Arizona science standards, visit:
http://www.azed.gov/standards-practices/k-12standards/k12engagement/az_sci_ss_standards-review/ 

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

UPDATE FROM ARIZONA

"School Superintendent Diane Douglas is apparently behind a rewrite of
science standards for all Arizona school children that would delete
references to evolution," reports KPHX (May 18, 2018) in Phoenix.

As NCSE previously reported, staffers at the Arizona state department
of education tampered with the treatment of evolution and allied
topics in the standards. NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch told KNAU
(May 14, 2018) in Flagstaff, "We can [be] quite sure, I think, that
the revisions are aimed deliberately at softening the treatment of
evolution, and thus misleading teachers and students about the
scientific standing of evolution."

KPHX cited audio from a November 2017 Republican candidate forum in
Tempe in which Douglas, who is seeking re-election, answered a
question by saying, "Should the theory of intelligent design be taught
along with the theory of evolution? Absolutely," adding, "I had a
discussion with my staff, because we're currently working on science
standards, to make sure this issue was addressed in the standards
we're working on."

While "intelligent design" is not included in the draft science
standards, the treatment of evolution was compromised by the
department of education staffers. For example, where the writing
committee's version of a standard for the eighth grade explained, "the
process of natural selection provides an explanation of how new
species can evolve," the revised version refers instead to "the
processes by which a species may change over time in response to
environmental conditions," thus avoiding both the e-word and the idea
of speciation.

Writing in the Arizona Republic (May 21, 2018), Laurie Roberts quoted
NCSE's Glenn Branch as saying that even if the compromised standards
are adopted, "Good teachers are still going to be presenting evolution
as scientists understand it, as the unifying backbone of biological
science." But, Roberts added, "By calling the scientific accuracy of
evolution into question, Arizona's proposed standards will give
teachers cover to bring religion into the classroom."

Roberts also observed that a reference to the Big Bang was deleted by
the department of education staffers. She jokingly predicted that
future revisions to the standards would tell Arizona's public school
students "that the moon really is made of cheese, the seas are rising
because of rocks that fall into the ocean, and yes, you really can
fall off the end of the earth if you walk far enough. "

The draft standards are available for public comment on-line until May
28, 2018. NCSE encourages Arizonans concerned about the integrity of
science education in their state to review and comment; NCSE is
available to help.

For the KPHX story, visit:
https://www.12news.com/article/news/arizona-could-roll-back-teaching-of-evolution-in-classroom/75-555209992 

For the KNAU story, visit:
http://knau.org/post/science-educators-raise-alarms-about-revised-k-12-standards 

For Laurie Roberts's column in the Arizona Republic, visit:
https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2018/05/21/evolution-under-attack-diane-douglas/629412002/ 

For information about the Arizona science standards, visit:
http://www.azed.gov/standards-practices/k-12standards/k12engagement/az_sci_ss_standards-review/ 

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

CREATIONIST RESOLUTION DIES IN LOUISIANA

When the Louisiana state legislature adjourned sine die on May 18,
2018, Senate Resolution 33, which would have commended a former state
senator "on his support and endorsement of teaching creationism in
public schools," died.

The resolution would have honored Bill Keith, who sponsored
Louisiana's Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and
Evolution-Science Act while serving in the state senate in 1981. The
law was subsequently overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme
Court's decision in Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987. It remains on the
books, however. As NCSE previously reported, there have been three
unsuccessful legislative attempts, most recently in 2016, to repeal
it.

The chief sponsor of the resolution was John Milkovich (D-District
38), who was the most outspoken opponent of the most recent effort to
repeal the Balanced Treatment Act, according to the Associated Press
(March 29, 2016).

For the text of Louisiana's Senate Resolution 33 (PDF), visit:
http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1077093 

For the Associated Press's story on the most recent repeal effort, visit:
http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/03/louisiana_senators_refuse_to_r.html 

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

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 
https://ncse.com 

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https://ncse.com/blog 

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