national center for science education

Thu, 2013-02-28 16:15Guest
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Not Smart, But Not ALEC Either

This is a guest post by Glenn Branch from the National Center for Science Education

When the Arizona Daily Star asked the president of the Arizona Education Association what he thought about Senate Bill 1213, a proposed law which would encourage teachers in the state’s public schools to misrepresent evolution and climate change as controversial, he rightly explained that it was unnecessary and misleading, saying, “The controversy is at the political level, not the scientific level.”

Where he may have erred, however, was in his attribution of the bill to the American Legislative Exchange Council. He’s not alone. A number of journalists and bloggers have charged that ALEC drafted the model bill that inspired Arizona’s SB 1213 and the similar bills to have been introduced in state legislatures around the country, including DeSmogBlog’s own Steve Horn.

But when they first appeared, these bills represented the latest development in the strategy of creationists. No longer was it possible to ban the teaching of evolution; no longer was it possible to require the teaching of Biblical creationism, creation science, or intelligent design. So creationists started, around 2004, to resort to a fallback strategy, undermining the teaching of evolution. Climate change is a postscript.

Thu, 2012-09-27 18:50Graham Readfearn
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Southeastern Louisiana University has "Honor" Of Hosting Birther Lord Monckton

DR Russell McKenzie, an associate professor at Southeastern Louisiana University Department of Management and Business Administration, is rather pleased with the guy he has secured to speak to students and the public about the economic cost of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are honored to have someone of his stature speaking,” he told an online university community newspaper. In another story, Dr McKenzie added: “It’s not every day you have the opportunity to have a world renowned speaker to come to Southeastern”.

So who is this global powerhouse on climate change and economics? Sir Nicholas Stern, perhaps, author of the UK government's “Stern Review”? Could it be James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and famed climate scientist?

No. The “world renowned speaker” appearing at Southeastern Louisiana University on 2 October is none other than Lord Christopher Monckton, the British hereditary peer who believes climate scientists are part of a plot to introduce a socialist world government.

Thu, 2012-06-07 09:54Laurel Whitney
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States Continue To Push For Anti-Climate and Anti-Evolution Curriculum Laws

It looks like Tennessee can add another dumb law to join the ranks of other special ones such as being able to shoot whales out of a car, marrying your cousin, and not being allowed to carry skunks into the state or electrifying your trash. It now joins Louisiana in being one of the only two states to have anti-evolution and anti-climate laws in effect.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) recently posted their yearly anti-science legislation scorecard. It tallies up all the bills that states tried to pass over the past year attempting to interpose more “objectivity” into science curriculum.

Normally objectivity in science isn't a bad thing, in fact it's quite necessary and essential. However, these state legislatures' brand of objectivity means questioning well-proven theories like evolution and climate change, which are supported by mounds of evidence and have earned consensus among (legitimate) scientists.

Recall that a “theory” in science has a different connotation than when everyday people use it. A scientific theory has been rigorously tested and reviewed by multiple experts by the time it's assigned that label.

Tue, 2012-01-17 12:03Chris Mooney
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The Classroom Climate Battle: A New Heavy Hitter Joins the Fray

For a year now, I’ve been covering the growing fight over the teaching of accurate climate science in American classrooms. The conflict is being driven by politics, of course, but also by the fact that school districts are, increasingly, bringing information about global warming into the educational curriculum–leading, inevitably, to pressure on teachers, backlash from parents, and even, in some cases, school board or legislative interference.

This is, of course, happening most often in ideologically conservative communities, where we have already seen climate science teaching conflicts start.

So what do you do about it?

As it happens, there is a national organization that already has decades of experience in dealing with politicized fights over the content of science education. It is the Oakland, CA-based National Center for Science Education (NCSE), which has defended the teaching of evolution across America going back nearly 30 years.

And now, NCSE has just announced it is adding climate change to its docket. (The group's arrival in this space is such a big development–at least to my mind–that I just devoted a full Point of Inquiry podcast episode to interviewing NCSE director Eugenie Scott about it.)

As this effort unfolds, I think there will be a few things to keep in mind. First, the climate education is not like the evolution education issue in several key respects, and so cannot be handled in the same way:

Wed, 2011-02-16 05:14Chris Mooney
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The Coming Classroom Climate Conflict

I’ve just completed a trip out to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado—a town that’s in many ways the chief hub for our country’s climate scientists, as well as for a variety of other researchers (especially on weather and renewable energy) and many science education specialists. My visit was focused on science communication, but another theme kept coming up: climate science education, and the conflicts arising therein.

A lot of people out here seem worried about growing resistance to climate science teaching in schools. It was a regular topic of conversation, and at the end of my public talk, one audience member asked whether there needs to be an equivalent of the National Center for Science Education for the climate issue. (The National Center for Science Education is the leading organization defending the teaching of evolution in the U.S.). And no wonder: This state has already seen one of the most direct attacks on climate education yet—although it seems to have fizzled.

Mon, 2011-01-31 07:59Chris Mooney
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Evolution and Climate Science: Fellow Travelers in U.S. Public Schools

Thanks to Joe Romm, I just became aware of the latest effort to undermine evolution education in the U.S.—and to denigrate climate science education as well. It’s a new bill in Oklahoma, but it fits a pattern that anti-science forces have already employed successfully in Louisiana and Texas. As the National Center for Science Education explains of the new Oklahoma bill:

Entitled the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act,” SB 320 would, if enacted, 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.” The only topics specifically mentioned as controversial are “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

What are the existing scientific theories pertinent to human cloning that need to be understood, analyzed, critiqued, and reviewed? Are the people who write these things even remotely clued in to the issues involved?

But I digress.

The big point here is that increasingly, evolution and climate change are being tied together in attacks on science education.

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