NCSE in the news
No fewer than three recent articles in the national media discussed the continuing struggle over evolution education in the United States. Unsurprisingly, NCSE, as the only national organization wholly devoted to promoting and defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools, was prominently featured in all three.
In Randy Dotinga's "A who's who of players in the battle of biology class," which appeared in the December 6, 2004, issue of the Christian Science Monitor, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott -- described as "the country's leading advocate for the teaching of evolution in the classroom" -- and the Discovery Institute's president Bruce Chapman were the central figures. The article pointedly compared the multimillion-dollar budgets of the Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, and the Institute for Creation Research with NCSE's 2003 budget of $606,000: "Funding is so limited that Scott, its executive director, once responded to a critic who said evolution is a religion by suggesting that her organization would have a lot more money if that were true." Dotinga adds, "Scott -- whose small staff provides resources to teachers and parents -- worries that her budget will shrivel because donors are tapped out after the presidential election." NCSE board member Barbara Forrest was also quoted as arguing that the creationism/evolution debate revolves around "the religious right's dislike of secular education and secular society."
Valerie Strauss's "Fresh Challenges in the Old Debate Over Evolution," which appeared in the December 6, 2004, issue of the Washington Post, began with a profile of David Jackson, a professor of science education at the University of Georgia's College of Education in Athens, who accepts evolution but finds that about half of the aspiring students under his tutelage are young-earth creationists. Noting the prevalence of debates over evolution education (with figures supplied by NCSE), Strauss correctly observes:
The vast majority of scientists agree that evolution is a proven major unifying concept in science and should be not only included in science education in kindergarten through 12th grade but also better imbedded in school standards. Many scientists grow infuriated at evolution challenges by people they believe are trying to infuse religion into a strictly scientific process.Also quoted as supporting evolution education are the University of Southern California's William McComas and Cobb County, Georgia, science teacher Wes McCoy, who remarked, "The parents and school board members I have spoken to who oppose the teaching of evolution seem to have little understanding of what evolution means."
And Marilyn Rauber's "Creationists try to edge around ban," [Link is broken] written for Media General News Service and published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on December 5, 2004, emphasized that across the country, state and local educational officials are trying to circumvent the constitutional prohibition on teaching creationism in the public schools (established by the 1987 Supreme Court case Edwards v. Aguillard). "[T]he tactic that most worries supporters of evolution," Rauber suggests, " is the use of anti-evolution disclaimers inserted into science textbooks," citing the disclaimers used in Alabama and Cobb County, Georgia (recently the subject of a court case, Selman v. Cobb County, as yet undecided), as well as those proposed in other states. NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch was quoted as saying, "we expect to see the Cobb County disclaimer pop up everywhere" in the event that the plaintiffs lose; "if you don't talk about your religious motivations, it's a lot harder to convince a judge that its real objective is religious," he added. Cobb County, Georgia, science teacher Wes McCoy and Georgia State University's Sarah Pallas were also quoted in connection with Selman v. Cobb County.
Expect to see NCSE continue to play a prominent role in media stories about the creationism/evolution controversy!