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NCSE's Branch on evolution in Kentucky

"Teach evolution as the fact it is," a column by NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch, appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal (January 13, 2013). "The opening salvo in the evolution wars was fired in Kentucky," Branch wrote, noting that Kentucky was the first state, in 1922, to consider a law banning the teaching of evolution in the public schools. "As 2013 begins, the evolution wars continue to rage, with bills that are intended to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools already expected in Indiana, Montana and New Mexico."

"In Kentucky, there's good news and there's bad news," Branch continued, reviewing the recent legislative assaults on evolution in Kentucky, the quality of the state's science education standards, and the likely prevalence of creationism in the state's science classrooms. He warned, "Students cheated of their chance to attain a proper understanding of evolution are at risk of not attaining a basic level of scientific literacy. But the impact is broader. Due to the mushrooming economic importance of fields such as medicine, biotechnology and agriculture, the nation can't afford not to teach evolution properly."

The column ended its plea to support the teaching of evolution in the public schools by appealing also to the local pride of Kentuckians. "A Kentucky native — Thomas Hunt Morgan, who helped to lay the foundation of the modern understanding of evolution — was the first American to be awarded a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine," Branch wrote. "Supporting the teaching of evolution, undiluted by creationist interference, in Kentucky's public schools may not ensure the emergence of a new scientist of Morgan’s stature. But it is bound to help."

In a sidebar, Branch also cast his gaze across the Ohio River, observing, "Indiana is expected to see anti-evolution legislation in 2013, unlike Kentucky. Leading the charge is state Sen. Dennis Kruse," who, he explained, after pledging to remove evolution from the state science standards and then repeatedly introducing legislation that would allow local school districts to teach "creation science," now "reportedly plans to introduce a bill allowing students to force their teachers to provide evidence for any of the material presented in class."