NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2008/10/17
[by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch]
Dear Friends of NCSE, Antievolutionists have been appointed to a committee to review the draft set of Texas state science standards. More welcome is the news that Randy Moore received the 2008 Evolution Education Award from the NABT and Eugenie C. Scott received the Field Museum's Award of Merit.
ANTIEVOLUTIONISTS ASKED TO REVIEW DRAFT STANDARDS IN TEXAS Three antievolutionists have been appointed to a six-member committee to review the draft set of Texas state science standards, and defenders of the integrity of science education in the Lone Star state are livid. "The committee was chosen by 12 of the 15 members of the board of education, with each panel member receiving the support of two board members," as the Dallas Morning News (October 16, 2008) explains. Six members of the board "aligned with social conservative groups" chose Stephen C. Meyer, the director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, Ralph Seelke, a biology professor at the University of Wiconsin, Superior, and Charles Garner, a chemistry professor at Baylor University. Meyer, Seelke, and Garner are all signatories of the Discovery Institute-sponsored "Dissent from Darwinism" statement. Meyer and Seelke are also coauthors of Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism (Hill House, 2008), which, like Of Pandas and People, is a supplementary textbook that is intended to instill scientifically unwarranted doubts about evolution. A recent review by biologist John Timmer summarized, "But the book doesn't only promote stupidity, it demands it. In every way except its use of the actual term, this is a creationist book." Garner reportedly told the Houston Press (December 14, 2000) that he "criticizes evolutionary theory in class." Meyer and Seelke also testified in the 2005 "kangaroo court" hearings held by three antievolutionist members of the Kansas state board of education, in which a parade of antievolutionist witnesses expressed their support for the so-called minority report version of the state science standards (written with the aid of a local "intelligent design" organization), complained of repression by a dogmatic evolutionary establishment, and claimed to have detected atheism lurking "between the lines" of the standards. A version of the minority report was adopted in 2005, despite criticism from the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association, but the balance of power on the board changed, and supporters of the integrity of science education quickly restored a proper treatment of evolution to the standards. Referring to the appointment of Meyer, Seelker, and Garner, Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network told the Austin American-Stateman (October 16, 2008), "I think these state board members have really lifted the veil on what their real agenda is here ... It's clear they picked a few experts and a few people with a clear conflict of interest and a political agenda." Similarly, in a press release issued on October 15, 2008, Texas Citizens for Science's Steven Schafersman lamented, "It is unfortunate that some SBOE members have such a poor regard for the education of Texas science students that they must resort to pushing their own anti-evolutionist and Creationist religious ideologies into the science standards revision process." The three remaining members of the committee -- "veteran science professors from major Texas universities," as the Morning News observed -- are David Hillis, a biology professor at the University of Texas, Austin, Gerald Skoog, a professor of education at Texas Tech University, and Ronald Wetherington, an anthropology professor at Southern Methodist University. The American-Statesman noted, "a seventh panel member could be nominated. The panel is expected to send recommendations on the proposal back to the board in the coming months," with a public hearing following in November 2008 and a final decision on the standards scheduled for March 2009. For the story in the Dallas Morning News, visit: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/101608dntexevolutionists.4a8e2cf.html For information about the "Dissent from Darwinism" statement, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/7306_pr87_11292001__doubting_dar_11_29_2001.asp For information about Of Pandas and People, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=21 For John Timmer's review of Explore Evolution, visit: http://arstechnica.com/reviews/other/discovery-textbook-review.ars For the testimony from the "kangaroo court" hearings, visit: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/kansas/kangaroo.html For NCSE's previous coverage of events in Kansas, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=KS For the Austin American-Stateman story, visit: http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/10/16/1016science.html For the Texas Citizens for Science press release, visit: http://www.texscience.org/releases/creationists-science-review-panel.htm For the pro-science organizations in Texas, visit: http://www.tfn.org http://www.texscience.org http://www.texasscientists.org/ And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Texas, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=TX MOORE WINS EVOLUTION EDUCATION AWARD Randy Moore is the winner of the 2008 Evolution Education Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers, according to a press release issued on October 14, 2008, by the American Institute of Biological Sciences. The award, sponsored by AIBS and the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, recognizes innovative classroom teaching and community education efforts to promote the accurate understanding of biological evolution. "This is a great honor, especially considering the roles AIBS and BSCS have played in defending the teaching of evolution," Moore was quoted as saying. He added, "Evolution is a unifying theme in biology; teaching it as such is the best way to show students what biology is about and how they can use evolution as a tool to understand our world. [Evolution] is as important an idea as there is in science -- it is a great gift to give to students." Moore will receive the award, which includes a plaque and a prize of $1000, at the NABT national conference in Memphis, Tennessee, in October 2008. A long-time member of NCSE who received its Friend of Darwin award in 2004, Moore is Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His latest book, coauthored with Mark Decker, is More than Darwin: An Encyclopedia of the People and Places of the Evolution-Creationism Controversy (Greenwood Press, 2008). For the AIBS press release, visit: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/aiob-ber100708.php To buy More than Darwin from Amazon.com (and benefit NCSE), visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/0313341559/nationalcenter02 NCSE'S SCOTT RECEIVES AWARD FROM THE FIELD MUSEUM On October 10, 2008, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was presented with the Field Museum's Award of Merit at a ceremony at the museum, where she gave a talk, attended a gala dinner, and received a $7500 honorarium for NCSE. The award is presented by the Field Museum's Founders' Council each year to "a leading scientist who has brought issues of cultural and environmental understanding to the forefront of public attention." Previous recipients include NCSE Supporter Stephen Jay Gould, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson, Richard E. Leakey, Jane Goodall, NCSE Supporter Lynn Margulis, Walter Alvarez, and NCSE Supporter Niles Eldredge. For information about the Field Museum, visit: http://www.fieldmuseum.org/ REMINDER If you wish to unsubscribe to these evolution education updates, please send: unsubscribe ncse-news firstname.lastname@example.org in the body of an e-mail to email@example.com. If you wish to subscribe, please send: subscribe ncse-news firstname.lastname@example.org again in the body of an e-mail to email@example.com. Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x305 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.ncseweb.org Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools http://www.ncseweb.org/nioc Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism http://www.ncseweb.org/evc NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://www.ncseweb.org/membership.asp