Skip navigation.
Home
The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/12/11

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A new Darwin Day resolution in the House of Representatives. New
science standards for middle school in Utah. And a failed measure to
recognize the reality of climate change in the House of
Representatives.

DARWIN DAY RESOLUTION IN CONGRESS

House Resolution 548, introduced in the United States House of
Representatives on December 3, 2015, would, if passed, express the
House's support of designating February 12, 2016, as Darwin Day, and
its recognition of "Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to
celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of
human knowledge."

Jim Himes (D-Connecticut), the lead sponsor of the bill, explained in
a December 3, 2015, press release from the American Humanist
Association, "Charles Darwin's ground-breaking and world-changing work
has left an indelible mark on the way human beings view the world and
our relationship with it," adding, "The world owes a debt of gratitude
to this pioneer."

Cosponsors of the measure are Elizabeth Esty (D-Connecticut), Charles
Rangel (D-New York), Adam Schiff (D-California), Eleanor Holmes Norton
(D-District of Columbia), Alan Grayson (D-Florida), Louise Slaughter
(D-New York), Alan Lowenthal (D-California), Jackie Speier
(D-California), Matt Cartwright (D-Pennsylvania), and Mark Pocan
(D-Wisconsin).

Now with the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, H.
Res. 548 is the latest in a string of similar Darwin Day bills in
Congress: H. Res. 67 (also introduced by Himes) and S. Res. 66 in
2015, H. Res. 467 in 2014 and H. Res. 41 in 2013, and H. Res. 81 in
2011. All five of the previous resolutions eventually died in
committee.

"It's wonderful, as always, to see a resolution that how important
evolution is to understanding the world around us," commented NCSE's
executive director Ann Reid. "I encourage members and friends of NCSE
to urge their representatives to support H. Res. 548. And don't
overlook the many ways to encourage the teaching of evolution
locally."

For House Resolution 548 (PDF), visit:
https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hres548/BILLS-114hres548ih.pdf 

For the press release from the American Humanist Association, visit:
http://americanhumanist.org/news/details/2015-12-rep-jim-himes-reintroduces-resolution-in-support-of 

And for a list of ways to encourage the teaching of evolution, visit:
http://ncse.com/taking-action/29-ways-to-support-science-education 

UTAH ADOPTS NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE STANDARDS

The Utah state board of education voted 11-4 on December 4, 2015, to
adopt a new set of science standards for grades 6-8,according to a
December 4, 2015, press release. Included, despite early signs of
controversy, are evolution and climate change.

As NCSE previously reported, the draft standards were to be released
for public review and comment in February 2015, but the board decided
to postpone their release pending further revisions -- owing, it was
speculated, to their inclusion of evolution and climate change.

During public comment in October 2015, concern was expressed about a
sixth-grade standard that described the natural greenhouse effect as
maintaining "Earth's energy balance and a relatively constant
temperature" and as "necessary for maintaining life on Earth."

While not challenging the standard's accuracy, April Mitchell, a
district science specialist, told the Salt Lake Tribune (October 13,
2015), "My concern was that it would create a misconception that our
temperature currently is constant."

As adopted, however, the standard avoids the potential misconception,
calling for students to understand "the role of the natural greenhouse
effect in Earth's energy balance, and how it enables life to exist on
Earth," with no reference to constancy of temperature.

There was also concern expressed about the fact that global warming,
which was previously included at the sixth-grade level, was not
present in the draft standards until the eighth-grade level. That
remains the case in the standards as adopted.

Concern was also expressed about the treatment of evolution in the
seventh-grade standards, particularly by NCSE's Minda Berbeco in a
blog post subsequently republished by the Washington Post (October 22,
2015).

Berbeco noted that the standards "don't mention evolution by name.
Instead, they say 'change in species over time.' That's not just
awkward, it's inaccurate. Moreover, they don't address natural
selection, whereas the equivalent section of the [NGSS] does."

As adopted, the standards include the word "evolution," although the
section title is still "Changes in Species Over Time," and natural
selection is mentioned in the introduction to the section, although
there is no standard specifically devoted to it.

According to the state board of education, "The standards will go into
effect in the 2018-19 school year, following a pilot year in 2017-18."
The state is expected to continue revising its science standards, with
grades 9-12 next on the agenda.

For the Utah state board of education's press release, visit:
http://schoolboard.utah.gov/news/state-board-adopts-new-science-standards-for-grades-6-8 

For the story in the Salt Lake Tribune, visit:
http://www.sltrib.com/home/3059052-155/utah-students-will-study-earths-relatively 

For Minda Berbeco's blog post published by the Washington Post, visit:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/10/22/in-utah-evolution-is-under-siege-in-science-standards/ 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Utah, visit:
http://ncse.com/news/utah 

CLIMATE CHANGE AMENDMENT IN THE HOUSE

A measure that would have acknowledged "the overwhelming scientific
consensus that climate change is real" was rejected in the U.S. House
of Representatives on December 3, 2015, according toThe Hill (December
3, 2015).

While H.R. 8 -- the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure
Act of 2015 -- was under consideration, Matt Cartwright
(D-Pennsylvania) proposed to amend it with a section reading, "In
response to the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change
is real, United States energy policy should seek to remove market
barriers that inhibit the development of renewable energy
infrastructure."

In his remarks, reported in the Congressional Record, Cartwright
described his motion "as a chance for this Congress to avoid the harsh
light and the implacable judgment of the historians, who will not
hesitate to include us on their lists of the greatest ignoramuses of
all time, to lump us in without fear of contradiction, with the worst,
lantern-jawed simpletons of history ... if we do not take action to
prevent damage to our climate."

H.R. 8's sponsor, Fred Upton (R-Michigan), spoke against Cartwright's
motion, which was subsequently defeated on a 180-243 vote, along party
lines, according to The Hill. H.R. 8 was passed by the House on the
same day.

For the article in The Hill, visit:
http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/261970-dem-climate-deniers-among-the-greatest-ignoramuses-of-all-time 

For the remarks in the Congressional Record, visit:
https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2015/12/03/house-section/article/H8983-1 

WHAT'S NEW FROM THE SCIENCE LEAGUE OF AMERICA

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

* Steven Newton expressing his amusement at a climate change denial conference:
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/12/heartland-institute-event-convinces-scientists-no-wait-i-0016792 

* Stephanie Keep interviewing paleontologist James Hopson:
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/12/talking-paleo-with-one-greats-0016801 

* Ann Reid expressing her outrage at a congressional committee's
harassment of climate scientists:
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/12/grab-some-pine-meat-0016795 

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, visit:
http://ncse.com/blog 

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.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x303
fax: 510-601-7204
800-290-6006
branch@ncse.com 
http://ncse.com 

Check out NCSE's new blog, Science League of America:
http://ncse.com/blog 

Read Reports of the NCSE on-line:
http://reports.ncse.com 

Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter:
http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news 

NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter:
http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse 
http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd 
http://twitter.com/ncse 

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!
http://ncse.com/join