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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2016/01/29

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

NCSE is moving! A new antiscience bill in South Dakota. A bill in Iowa
to undo the state's adoption of the NGSS. A second antiscience bill in
Oklahoma. And a reminder about Darwin Day.


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February 1, 2016, NCSE will be at 1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600,
Oakland CA 94612-2922. Please update your address book. (Telephone and
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Senate Bill 83, introduced in the South Dakota Senate and referred to
the Senate Education Committee on January 25, 2016, would, if enacted,
allow teachers to teach "the strengths and weaknesses of scientific
information" presented in courses aligned with the state education

No areas of "scientific information" are specifically identified as
abounding in weaknesses, but the legislative history of the lead
sponsor, Jeff Monroe (R-24), is suggestive. In 2014, he sponsored
Senate Bill 112, which would have allowed teachers to teach
"intelligent design"; in 2015, he sponsored Senate Bill 114, which
identified "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global
warming, [and] human cloning" as scientifically controversial.

Senate Bill 112 was killed in the Senate Education Committee at
Monroe's request. Senate Bill 114 received a hearing in the Senate
Education Committee, during which representatives of the state
department of education, the South Dakota Education Association, and
the Associated School Boards of South Dakota testified in opposition
to the bill, and then died in committee when the legislative session

In sponsoring Senate Bill 83, Monroe is joined by Ried Holien
(R-District 5), Phil Jensen (R-District 33), Betty Olson (R-District
28), and Bill Van Gerpen (R-District 19) in the Senate and by seven
members of the House of Representatives, although there is no House
equivalent of the bill.

For the text of South Dakota's Senate Bill 83 as introduced, visit: 

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


House File 2054, introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives on
January 19, 2016, and referred to the House Committee on Education,
would, if enacted, reverse Iowa's decision to adopt the Next
Generation Science Standards -- and there is reason to believe that
part of the motivation is the NGSS's treatment of evolution and
climate change.

The lead sponsor of HF 2054 is Sandy Salmon (R-District 63), who in
2015 introduced House File 272, which would have prevented Iowa from
adopting the NGSS. She told the Cedar Rapids Gazette (March 2, 2015)
that she was "concerned that the standards miss some key math and
science concepts, present evolution as scientific fact[,] and shine a
negative light on human impacts on climate change." HF 272 died in

The Iowa Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the Next
Generation Science Standards at its August 6, 2015, meeting. HF 2054
would undo that decision, directing the board to adopt the same
science standards used during the 2014-2015 school year and requiring
further changes to be approved by the legislature and governor.

For the text of Iowa's House File 2054 as introduced, visit: 

For the story in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, visit: 

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


House Bill 3045, styled the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom
Act, is the second antiscience bill in the Oklahoma legislature for
2016, joining Senate Bill 1322.

If enacted, the bill would require state and local educational
authorities to "assist teachers to find more effective ways to present
the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies"
and permit teachers to "help students understand, analyze, critique,
and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and
scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the
course being taught," prohibiting administrators from interfering. As
introduced, the bill specifically mentions "biological evolution, the
chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning" as
subjects which "some teachers may be unsure" about how to teach.

The sole sponsor of HB 3045 is Sally Kern (R-District 84), a
persistent sponsor of antiscience legislation in the Sooner State. In
2011, Kern introduced House Bill 1551. The House Common Education
Committee initially rejected the bill, but passed a revised version,
which then passed the House of Representatives, but died in the Senate
Education Committee. In 2013, House Bill 1674 -- identical to the
revised version of HB 1551 passed by the House of Representatives --
was introduced with Kern as a cosponsor. Like its predecessor, it
passed the House of Representatives, but died in the Senate Education
Committee. HB 3045 is virtually identical.

Kern's antiscience bills have elicited criticism from scientific and
educational organizations within the state and across the country.
Responding to a previous incarnation of the bill, HB 1551 in 2011, for
example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science's
chief executive officer Alan I. Leshner wrote, "There is virtually no
scientific controversy among the overwhelming majority of researchers
on the core facts of global warming and evolution," adding, "asserting
that there are significant scientific controversies about the overall
nature of these concepts when there are none will only confuse
students, not enlighten them."

As usual, the grassroots organization Oklahomans for Excellence in
Science Education will be coordinating opposition to the antiscience
bills in the state.

For the text of Oklahoma's House Bill 3045 as introduced (PDF), visit: 

For Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education's website, visit: 

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


It's time to dust off your Darwin costume again: less than two weeks
remains before Darwin Day 2016! Colleges and universities, schools,
libraries, museums, churches, civic groups, and just plain folks
across the country -- and the world -- are preparing to celebrate
Darwin Day, on or around February 12, in honor of the life and work of
Charles Darwin. These events provide a marvelous opportunity not only
to celebrate Darwin's birthday but also to engage in public outreach
about science, evolution, and the importance of evolution education --
which is especially needed with assaults on evolution education
already under way in state legislatures. NCSE encourages its members
and friends to attend, participate in, and even organize Darwin Day
events in their own communities. To find a local event, check the
websites of local universities and museums and the registry of Darwin
Day events maintained by the Darwin Day Celebration website. (And
don't forget to register your own event with the Darwin Day
Celebration website!)

And with Darwin Day comes the return of Evolution Weekend! Hundreds of
congregations all over the country and around the world are taking
part in Evolution Weekend, February 12-14, 2016, by presenting sermons
and discussion groups on the compatibility of faith and science.
Michael Zimmerman, the initiator of the project, writes, "Evolution
Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the
relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to
elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic -- to
move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that
religious people from many faiths and locations understand that
evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith.
Finally, as with The Clergy Letter itself, Evolution Weekend makes it
clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and
science are creating a false dichotomy." At last count, 346
congregations in forty-eight states (and eleven foreign countries)
were scheduled to hold Evolution Weekend events.

For the Darwin Day registry, visit: 

For information about Evolution Weekend, visit: 


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

* Steven Newton discussing sea level rise in Florida: 

* Josh Rosenau considering a rapper's geocentrism in context: 

* Glenn Branch investigating the connection between two creationists
named Patterson: 

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.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax: 510-601-7204

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