NCSE has just reported that the last two of the 2010 anti-evolution bills has died in committee. These were the two holdouts in South Carolina from 2009. The antievolutionists batted 0 for 4 this year.
Nice to see that Texans are giving us here in Arizona a run for our money. Not content with coming from a state that is rewriting history to reflect the right wing mantra of God and Guns, it now seems that a Texas congressman has killed a reauthorization of the 2007 America COMPETES Act. The reauthorization would have continued funding for science education and basic research. Ralph Hall decided to introduce an amendment regarding federal employees viewing pornography while at work, thus blocking funding by forcing Democrats to seem to be voting for pornography if they voted against Hall’s motion to recommit. And 121 Democrats folded like the cowards they are. These unfortunately included most of the AZ democratic delegation (Kirkpatrick, Pastor, Mitchell & Giffords). Only Grijalva did the right thing.
NCSE notes that the Missouri anti-evolution bill (HB 1651) has fallen by the wayside, joining similar bills in Kentucky and Mississippi. That means all three bills presented this year have failed. Two bills, in South Carolina, remain as hold outs from last year.
Last year there were ten pieces of anti-evolution legislation (South Carolina , Mississippi, Oklahoma, Iowa, New Mexico, Florida, Alabama, Missouri & Texas), eight of which died.
The last lecture.
Update: I changed the post title as I had forgotten that the Mississippi bill died in February. Thanks to James for reminding me.
House Bill 397 would, if enacted, allow teachers to “use, as permitted by the local school board, other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” NCSE has more.
For those counting score, this makes three bills this year (and two – from South Carolina – that are active from last).
Classes started this week. I’m teaching the second half of the Socratic seminar that is required of all honors students at Barrett – you can see the schedule of readings here – and my course “Origins, Evolution and Creation” which is now in its twelfth year. You can read more about that class here. Above are the slides for the first class of “Origins” – an introduction to the course. I tried to record a podcast so you all could listen along, but ran into a problem. If there is sufficient interest (let me know in the comments), I may keep uploading slide presentations as the semester goes on. You’ll need to guess at what I’m saying, but it may be useful none the less :)
According to NCSE, the latest anti-evolution bill is being brought to us by Missouri.
Last year it was Oklahoma. This year the honor of birthing the first anti-evolution bill of 2010 goes to Mississippi. HB 586 provides for a lesson on human evolution which “shall have proportionately equal instruction from educational materials that present scientifically sound arguments by protagonists and antagonists of the theory of evolution.”
Why what happens in Texas matters:
Texas is the nation’s second-largest textbook market and one of the few biggies where the state picks what books schools can buy rather than leaving it up to the whims of local districts, which means publishers that get their books approved can count on millions of dollars in sales. …
Until recently, Texas’s influence was balanced to some degree by the more-liberal pull of California, the nation’s largest textbook market. But its economy is in such shambles that California has put off buying new books until at least 2014. This means that [Don] McLeroy and his ultraconservative crew have unparalleled power to shape the textbooks that children around the country read for years to come.
A poll of 11,768 adults across ten countries indicates that 43% think that “[e]volutionary theories should be taught in science lessons in schools together with other possible perspectives, such as intelligent design and creationism.” Agreement ran at 54% in Britain and 51% in the US. This article notes that “Britons were almost three times more likely than Egyptians to want creationism and intelligent design to be included in the teaching of evolution” but if the question was worded as above, I suspect that the lower rate for Egyptians may actually be from them wanting only creationism taught in schools. Unfortunately, I can’t actually find the report online.
(HT to John Pieret)
In 2006 and 2007, I participated in the Scienceblogs.com DonorsChoose campaign to raise funds for K-12 science education. In 2006, readers of my blog donated over $500 to help fund four proposals, while in 2007 nearly $2000 went to seven projects. This year, October is the month of the Social Media Challenge and while my readership has definitely shrunk since I moved from Scienceblogs, I’d still like to run a campaign.
As many of you will know, Arizona is particularly negligent in funding K-12 education. This time around I’m restricting my campaign to Arizona proposals but opening it up beyond just science. As of today, there are eight such projects originating from “high poverty” districts. Wander over to here and help some K-12 teachers here in Arizona achieve their goals. All donations are tax deductible.
Colin Purrington (Swarthmore) has a new blog – with a nice banner by Carl Buell – called Axis of Evo. Expect the posting of images and other stuff you can use to help “folks get over their fear of evolution.”
Update: This only works if I remember to link to the blog. D’oh!