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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2014/11/21

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

It's not too late to apply to host the Darwin Day Roadshow. A proposed
set of new state science standards for South Dakota is attracting
opposition from a state senator who favors creationism and climate
change denial. Plus signs of progress on climate science in Texas
social studies textbooks, a new issue of Reports of the NCSE, and
further signs of progress on climate science in Texas social studies


The Darwin Day Roadshow is returning! The Roadshow is a project of the
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, in which NESCent staff shares
their enthusiasm for evolutionary science with students, teachers, and
the general public on the occasion of Charles Darwin's birthday,
February 12. According to NESCent, "Our teams talk to students,
teachers and the general public about their research in evolutionary
science, describe what it takes to become an evolutionary biologist
(and what some of the rewards and challenges are), and convey why
evolutionary science is relevant to everyone."

And the results are delightful: as NESCent's Craig McClain wrote at
Pacific Standard (May 15, 2011), "for all of us the Darwin Day Road
Show was a gratifying adventure that no one will forget. From the
landscapes with their silos, combines, center pivot crop circles, high
school gymnasiums, to the indelible interactions we had along the way,
we absorbed it all." Applications from schools interested in hosting
the Roadshow, especially those who would not be likely to have access
to Darwin Day activities otherwise, are now being accepted -- now
until December 5, 2014.

For information about the Darwin Day Roadshow, visit: 

For Craig McClain's article in Pacific Standard, visit: 

And for the application for the Darwin Day Roadshow, visit: 


A South Dakota state senator dislikes a proposed new set of state
science standards, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (November
18, 2014). At a November 17, 2014, public hearing -- the second of
four -- on the standards, Phil Jensen (R-District 33) expressed
concern about the treatment of evolution and climate change.

Jensen's primary complaint about the standards was that they are
"inappropriate and unlawful," since a recent state law prohibits the
state board of education from adopting standards intended for
multi-state adoption. The new standards were developed in South
Dakota, but include elements of the Next Generation Science Standards.

According to the Rapid City Journal (November 18, 2014), "Jensen and
other opponents of Common Core said Monday the proposed standards for
science and social studies are linked to such multi-state efforts.
Their comments included references such as 'communist,' 'evolution,'
'leftist,' 'climate change' and 'environmentalism.'"

In 2014, Jensen was a cosponsor of South Dakota's Senate Bill 112,
which if enacted would have provided that "[n]o school board or school
administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school
from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related
topics."  The bill was killed in the Senate Education Committee.

In 2010, while serving in the South Dakota House of Representatives,
Jensen was a cosponsor of South Dakota's House Concurrent Resolution
1009, which called for " a balanced approach for instruction in the
public schools relating to global climatic change." The resolution was
adopted by both houses of the legislature.

Jensen is asking the state attorney general to provide an official
opinion on the legality of the standards. The president of the state
board of educaton told the Argus Leader that there is plenty of time:
there are two further public hearings to be held before the board
decides whether to adopt the standards in May 2015.

For the stories in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the Rapid City
Journal, visit: 

For information about 2014's Senate Bill 112 and 2010's House
Concurrent Resolution 1009, visit: 

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


"McGraw-Hill, the second-largest educational publisher in the world,
has removed key passages from a proposed Texas textbook that cast
doubt on climate science," reports theNational Journal (November 17,
2014). The decision follows on the heels of a similar decision by
Pearson, previouslyreported by NCSE.

McGraw-Hill confirmed that it will remove a deeply problematic lesson
that equated unsupported arguments from a special interest-funded
political advocacy group, the Heartland Institute, with data-backed
material from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a
Nobel-winning organization of scientists from around the world.

In a joint press release from NCSE, the Texas Freedom Network, and
Climate Parents, NCSE's Josh Rosenau praised the publishers for their
actions: "They listened to us and the nation’s leading scientific and
educational societies, ensuring that students will learn the truth
about the greatest challenge they'll confront as citizens of the 21st

Rosenau added, in a November 17, 2014, post on NCSE's Science League
of America blog, "The board might try to reverse the changes the
publishers made, so we'll stay vigilant until that last vote. But with
this move, the publishers have made clear that they intend to stand up
for accurate science, and we'll support them however we can."

The state board of education is scheduled to hold a final public
hearing on social studies textbooks, including the submissions from
McGraw-Hill and Pearson, on November 18, 2014, with a vote on the
textbooks expected to follow on November 21, 2014. Textbooks approved
by the board will be used in classrooms starting in the 2015-2016
academic year.

For the story in the National Journal, visit: 

For the press release, visit: 

For Rosenau's blog post, visit: 

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


NCSE is pleased to announce that the latest issue of Reports of the
National Center for Science Education is now available on-line. The
issue -- volume 34, number 6 -- contains Sehoya Cotner, D. Christopher
Brooks, and Randy Moore's "Science and Society: Evolution and Student
Voting Patterns"; John P. Abraham, John Fasullo, and Greg Laden's
"Continued Global Warming in the Midst of Natural Climate
Fluctuations"; and John Cook and Peter Jacobs's "Scientists are from
Mars, Laypeople are from Venus: An Evidence-Based Rationale for
Communicating the Consensus on Climate." And for his regular People
and Places column, Randy Moore discusses the geologist William Smith.

Plus a host of reviews of books on various topics: Douglas Allchin
reviews Martin A. Nowak and Sarah Coakley's collection Evolution,
Games, and God, David M. Dobson reviews Donald R. Prothero's Reality
Check, David Morrison reviews David C. Catling's Astrobiology, David
A. Rintoul reviews Gregg D. Caruso's Science and Religion: 5
Questions, Kenneth Saladin reviews Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner's
Understanding Galápagos, and Brian Switek reviews Richard Milner's
Charles M. Knight: The Artist Who Saw Through Time.

All of these articles, features, and reviews are freely available in
PDF form from Members of NCSE will shortly be 
receiving in the mail the print supplement to Reports 34:6, which, in
addition to summaries of the on-line material, contains news from the
membership, a regular column in which NCSE staffers offer personal
reports on what they've been doing to defend the teaching of
evolution, a regular column interviewing NCSE's favorite people, and
more besides. (Not a member? Join today! And as the holiday season
approaches, why not consider giving a membership to, or a donation in
honor of, that special someone?)

For the table of contents for RNCSE 34:6, visit: 

For information about joining NCSE, visit: 


"Climate scientists can breathe a bit easier," the National Journal
(November 13, 2014) reports. "Pearson Education -- the largest
educational publisher in the world -- has cut material from a proposed
Texas social-studies textbook that cast doubt on the human causes of
global warming."

Along with the Texas Freedom Network, NCSE previouslycharged that "an
examination of how proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public
schools address climate change reveals distortions and bias that
misrepresent the broad scientific consensus on the phenomenon."

As submitted, Pearson's fifth-grade social textbook claimed, "Some
scientists believe that this carbon dioxide could lead to a slow
heating of Earth's overall climate. This temperature change is known
as global warming or climate change. Scientists disagree about what is
causing climate change."

As now revised, the passage reads, "Carbon dioxide, which occurs both
naturally and through human activities, is called a greenhouse gas,
because it traps heat. As the amounts of carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases increase, the Earth warms. Scientists warn that
climate change, caused by this warming, will pose challenges to

"I couldn't be more pleased," NCSE's Josh Rosenau told the National
Journal. "The revised textbook [from Pearson] provides students with
the reliable science they need to understand the social debates
surrounding climate change and does so without manufacturing a
scientific debate."

Unfortunately, although McGraw-Hill revised problematic claims about
climate science in its sixth-grade social studies textbook, the
discussion still incorrectly suggests that climate change is still
scientifically controversial and still presents the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change and the Heartland Institute as offering
"differing viewpoints."

"The fundamental flaw remains unchanged," Rosenau said. "To have a
debate about science that is well understood is simply inappropriate."
(Rosenau further discusses the status of the textbook revisions in
detail in his "A Gold Star in the Lone Star," posted on November 14,
2014, on NCSE's Science League of America blog.)

The state board of education is scheduled to hold a final public
hearing on the textbooks on November 18, with a vote on the textbooks
expected to follow on November 21. "For now," the National Report
noted, "activists hope that the board will either reject the
McGraw-Hill book or that [the] publisher will make a last-minute

For the story in the National Report, visit: 

For Rosenau's blog post, visit: 

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


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog, The Science League of America,
recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Mark McCaffrey discussing a Virginia school district that's taking
climate change seriously: 

* Josh Rosenau covering the controversy over climate change in Texas
social studies textbooks: 

* Ann Reid recounting the impact of a science teacher on a NCSE staffer: 

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, 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.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x303
fax: 510-601-7204

Check out NCSE's new blog, Science League of America: 

Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: 

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