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Top Ten Evolution Stories of 2010

Those crafty creationists just won't let up. Since they can't get their way in the courts or state legislatures, their new tactic is to attack the curriculum itself, from science standards to textbooks, forcing teachers to teach science the creationist way.

In Texas, for example, a creo-dominated board of education in 2009 successfully shoehorned creationist language into the life and earth sciences standards. "Having students 'analyze and evaluate all sides of scientific evidence' is code that gives creationists a green light to attack biology textbooks," said Josh Rosenau, NCSE Programs and Policy Director.

But the board didn't stop there. In March of 2010, the board turned on Texas social studies standards, booting Thurgood Marshall out of the history books and inserting Phyllis Schlafly. "We are adding balance," said board chairman Dr. Don McLeroy.

Echoing language from the evolution vs. creationism wars, South Dakota passed a resolution encouraging teachers to present "a balanced and objective" view of global warming.

In Louisiana, creationists waving the banner of the 2008 Science Education Act almost derailed the adoption of nearly two dozen high school biology textbooks that, in the words of one creationist, "devoted too much time to evolutionary theory and none to intelligent design".

In short, it was a busy year.

Here's the National Center for Science Education's list of the ten hottest evolution stories of the year:

1. Louisiana biology textbooks under siege
Attacks orchestrated by The Louisiana Family Forum nearly upended the adoption of biology textbooks that (gasp) didn't talk about intelligent design. But the textbook subcommittee and the full board of education overwhelmingly approved the books.

Biology textbooks approved in Louisiana

Expert contact: Josh Rosenau

2. Gov backs Kentucky creationism theme park
A theme park complete with a replica of Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel? A park backed by state funds? Believe it.

Creationism theme park controversy continues

Expert contact: Josh Rosenau

3. Teacher makes an impression
John Freshwater, an Ohio middle school science teacher, was accused of displaying Biblical posters, branding crosses on the arms of his students, and teaching creationism. One family sued; the school district is out $475,000; Freshwater may soon be out of a job.

Settlement in Freshwater case final

Expert contact: Glenn Branch

4. Don McLeroy booted off Texas board of education
During his heyday as board chairman, McLeroy (an avowed creationist) made news during a hearing by crying out "Somebody's got to stand up to experts!". The voters thought otherwise and McLeroy lost his re-election bid.

McLeroy booted in Texas

Expert contacts: Josh Rosenau, Genie Scott

5. UC vs. Christian high schools
The University of California refused to give credits for high school biology classes that relied on creationist textbooks such as Biology: God's Living Creation. Several Christian schools sued, but the Supreme Court let stand a ruling supporting UC's policies.

Victory again in California creationism case

Expert contact: Glenn Branch

6. Anti-evolution bills DOA
Anti-evolution bills were proposed in Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Mississippi. The Kentucky bill was typical, "help[ing] 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." All died in committee.

Expert contacts: Josh Rosenau, Steve Newton

7. We don't need no stinkin' accreditation!
The Institute for Creation Research wanted to offer Masters of Science Education degrees without getting the Texas Higher Education board's certification. The board said no and the ICR sued and lost. Said the exasperated judge: "[ICR] is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information"

A legal defeat for the ICR

Expert contact: Glenn Branch

8. Forward an email, lose your job
Chris Comer, Director of Science at the Texas Education Agency, was fired in 2007 for forwarding an email announcing a public lecture by NCSE Board member Barbara Forrest. Comer sued, lost, appealed, and in 2010, had her appeal denied.

Comer loses appeal

Expert contact: Josh Rosenau

9. Top Doc Nabs Fab Sci Prize
The National Academy of Sciences awarded Dr. Eugenie C. Scott the Public Welfare Medal for her "extraordinary use of science for the public good". She joins an elite club that includes Carl Sagan, C. Everett Koop, David Packard, and Vannevar Bush.

Eugenie C. Scott honored by the National Academy of Sciences

Expert contact: Robert Luhn

10. Friends of Darwin Announced
NCSE's "Friend of Darwin" award was bestowed on three Texas educators who stood tall for science education: Dr. David Hillis (UT), Dr. Gerald Skoog (Texas Tech), and Dr. Ronald Wetherington (Southern Methodist).

Friends of Darwin awards for three Texans

Expert contact: Robert Luhn

CONTACT: Robert Luhn, Director of Communications, NCSE, 510-601-7203, luhn@ncse.com

Web site: www.ncse.com

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit, membership organization that defends and promotes the teaching of evolution in the public schools. The NCSE provides information and resources to schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution in public school science education. We educate the press and public about the scientific, educational, and legal aspects of the creation and evolution controversy, and supply needed information and advice to defend good science education at local, state, and national levels. Our 4000 members are scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens with diverse religious affiliations.