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Jack Friedman dies

Jack Friedman

Jack Friedman, a past president of NCSE's board of directors, died on July 31, 2014, at the age of 88, according to Newsday (August 2, 2014). As a master biology teacher, Friedman viewed the surge of antievolution activity in the 1970s with alarm, and consequently helped to mobilize concerned citizens in the New York City area — including Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge — to take the threat seriously. He served as president of the New York Council for Evolution Education, one of the first Committees of Correspondence that preceded the establishment of NCSE. Subsequently, Friedman helped to found NCSE in 1983, and served on its board for twenty-nine years (1983-2012), including five years as treasurer (1988-1992) and seven years as president (1983-1987 and 1993-1994).

Writing in Newsday (July 14, 1995), Friedman explained, "Biology makes no sense unless we view it through the eyes of evolution ... Teaching creationism as if it were accepted scientifically deprives students of the most unifying principle of biology." A good example of his profound commitment to the integrity of science education was featured in Newsday (November 27, 2005), just after the Kansas state board of education's decision to adopt a set of state science standards that impugned the scientific status of evolution and just before the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover. Amid these controversies, Friedman, then 80, was busy "coaching middle school teachers on how to address the issue [of creationism] with their students." He told the newspaper, "They didn't want to step on anybody's religion and have their parents come in and get them in trouble" even while they were complying with the state's expectation that evolution would be taught.

Friedman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 26, 1925. He served in the Army in World War II as a medic. Discharged with the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart, he attended Brooklyn College, graduating in 1950, and New York University, from which he earned a master's degree in biology in 1960. In the same year, he helped to write a BSCS high school biology textbook published in 1963. He taught at the Bronx High School of Science for five years and then at Syosset High School, where he founded the science department and chaired it for thirty years. After retiring, he taught biology at Hofstra University and for a decade at Nassau Community College, where he was honored as teacher of the year for 2003.