Evolution and climate education update: June 8, 2018

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Glenn Branch

Jun 8, 2018, 10:27:00 AM6/8/18
to ncse-news
Dear friends of NCSE,

NCSE is pleased to announce the recipients of the Friend of Darwin and
the Friend of the Planet awards for 2018. The Orlando Sentinel finds
that creationism is taught in publicly funded private schools in
Florida. And NCSE bids a fond farewell to Emily Schoerning.


NCSE is pleased to announce the winners of the Friend of Darwin award
for 2018: Tiffany Adrain, the collections manager at the University of
Iowa Paleontology Repository and a supporter of NCSE’s Science Booster
Clubs in Iowa, and Robert Stephens, a cell and molecular biologist who
proposed the idea of Darwin Day in 1993 and cofounded the Darwin Day
Program to coordinate and encourage the celebrations of the great
naturalist's life and work.

"The continued vitality of Darwin Day celebrations across the country
-- and around the world -- is in large part due to Bob Stephens's
success in establishing the Darwin Day program," commented NCSE's
executive director Ann Reid, "while it would be hard to overstate how
generous Tiffany Adrain was, both with her time and with the specimens
that she curates, to the then-fledgling Science Booster Clubs that
NCSE piloted in eastern Iowa."

NCSE is also pleased to announce the winners of the Friend of the
Planet award for 2018: Climate Central, a group of scientists and
journalists providing a reliable and accurate source of information
about climate change, especially through its website and its book
Global Weirdness (2013), and Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric
Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of
What We Know About Climate Change (2007).

"Kerry Emanuel is not only a pre-eminent climate scientist but also a
highly skilled climate communicator," Reid explained. "As his
colleague Ben Santer says, when Emanuel speaks about human effects on
climate, people listen." She added, "Likewise, Climate Central's
efforts to translate the complexities of scientific research on
climate change into plain English for a general public have been both
indefatigable and invaluable: a true model of science communication."

The Friend of Darwin and Friend of the Planet awards are presented
annually to a select few whose efforts to support NCSE and advance its
goal of defending the teaching of evolution and climate science have
been truly outstanding. Previous recipients of the Friend of Darwin
award include Brian Alters, Brandon Haught, Ronald L. Numbers, and
Judy Scotchmoor. Previous recipients of the Friend of the Planet Award
include Michael E. Mann, Naomi Oreskes, and Skeptical Science.

For information on the awards, visit:


"Some private schools in Florida that rely on public funding teach
students that dinosaurs and humans lived together," reports the
Orlando Sentinel (June 1, 2018).

The newspaper surveyed "151 private schools newly approved by the
education department to take scholarships for the 2017-18 school year.
Seventy[-]five of the schools provided information about their
curriculum either on their website or when contacted by phone, and 30
of those, or about 40 percent, reported Abeka, BJU [Bob Jones
University Press] or ACE [Advanced Christian Education] was a part of
their academic offerings."

According to experts asked by the Sentinel to review the textbooks
from these publishers, "[t]he most striking feature of the biology
books is their focused argument against evolution, a fundamental
building block of modern biology." Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens
for Science said, of claims about dinosaurs in a workbook from ACE,
"That was just plain-old, misguided, bad, horrible science, talking
about dinosaurs and humans living together."

Concerns about the textbooks used in private schools that receive
public funding have surfaced elsewhere. Writing in the Huffington Post
(December 7, 2017), Rebecca Klein reported on a study that found that
"many of the non-Catholic Christian schools" participating in private
school choice programs were using Abeka, BJU, or ACE textbooks, which
"often flout widely accepted science and historical fact."

Despite the public funding of these private schools, the Sentinel
noted, "Florida law prohibits the department [of education] from
asking about or regulating academics at these schools."

For the story in the Orlando Sentinel, visit:

For the story in the Huffington Post, visit:

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


NCSE bids farewell to Emily Schoerning, who joined NCSE as its first
Director of Community Organizing and Research in 2015. A
microbiologist by training, Schoerning brought to NCSE a passion for
science education and outreach that she found while a post-doctoral
researcher. Particularly noteworthy was her development and
supervision of NCSE's Science Booster Club program, aimed at rallying
communities to support local science education. Initially piloted with
a single club in Iowa City in 2015, the program now includes clubs in
a dozen states, which have together reached almost 200,000 people at
community events. As her title suggested, Schoerning was also involved
in acquiring and analyzing data on the program's efficacy. The first
article based on her research on the project's impact is forthcoming
in the Journal of Science Communication. In 2017, she was elected as
the Research Division Director of the National Science Teachers
Association. All of us at NCSE wish her the best in her new endeavors.

For information about NCSE's Science Booster Club program, visit:


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Glenn Branch discussing the 2018 Friends of Darwin recipients:

* Ann Reid discussing the 2018 Friends of the Planet recipients:

For NCSE's blog, visit:

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.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax 510-788-7971

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