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In the wake of the November 2004 elections in Kansas, antievolutionists gained the majority of seats on the state board of education, and they are now using their 6-4 majority to try to undermine the treatment of evolution in the state science standards, which are undergoing revision. A first draft of the revised standards was submitted to the board in December 2004, and approved, despite complaints that the opinions of antievolutionists were ignored. Efforts to incorporate a "minority report" written with the aid of a local "intelligent design" organization were unsuccessful.
On February 10, 2005, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that the Beebe School District in Beebe, Arkansas, agreed to remove warning labels from its science textbooks which describe evolution as "a controversial theory" and refer to an "intelligent designer" as a possible explanation of the origin of life.
According to the Lawrence Journal-World, an antievolution resolution was introduced in the Kansas House of Representatives on February 15, 2005. The sponsor is Representative Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee), who said that the proposed resolution, which is nonbinding, was meant to promote "objectivity in science education."
by Glenn Branch and Nick Matzke
On February 8, 2005, a pair of bills — House Bill 352 and Senate Bill 240 — was introduced in the Alabama legislature, under the rubric of "The Academic Freedom Act." Virtually identical, these bills purport to protect the right of teachers "to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories" and the right of students to "hold positions regarding scientific views." In language reminiscent of the Santorum language removed from the No Child Left Behind Act, they specify that "[t]he rights and privileges contained in this act apply when topics are taught that may generate co
According to the Associated Press [Link broken], a South Carolina education subcommittee removed the provision from S 114 that would have established a South Carolina Science Standards Committee to "study standards regarding the teaching of the origin of species; determine whether there is a consensus on the definition of science; [and] determine whether alternatives to evolution as the origin of species should be offered in schools." (For the history and purpose of the provision, see
An important article by Cornelia Dean in the Science section of the February 1, 2005, issue of The New York Times details a common, but rarely recognized, form of evolution censorship in the United States: self-censorship. In her article, "Evolution Takes a Back Seat in U.S.
House Bill 179, introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives on January 27, 2005, would require "Whenever any theory of the origin of human beings or other living things is included in a course of study offered by a local unit of administration, factual scientific evidence supporting or consistent with evolution theory and factual scientific evidence inconsistent with or not supporting the theory shall be included in the course of study." NCSE's executive director Eugenie C.
A trio of op-ed columns greeted the January 13, 2005, ruling in Selman et al. v. Cobb County School District et al., in which U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper deemed that the evolution disclaimer required in the Cobb County School District violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Although the board decided (on January 17) to appeal the decision to the 11th U.S. District Court of Appeals, the discussions in these columns are still worthwhile and timely. And a humor column in Scientific American looks on the lighter side.