Science Teachers Must Remain Vigilant

 

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The last week has generated plenty of news concerning bad bills in the Oklahoma legislature.  Without a doubt, the proposal to eliminate APUSH by defunding the program is troubling as is the subsequent mischaracterization of the entire Advanced Placement program as a “national curriculum” that should not be taught in Oklahoma.

With 600 bills filed that relate to education there is a lot of mischief to track. But science teachers MUST NOT loose track of three proposals that will directly impact the teaching and learning of science in Oklahoma if passed.

HB 1537 by Thomsen would replace the current (less than a year-old) science standards with new science standards to be produced by the 2016-2017 academic year. Please recall that during the process in which the Common Core was repealed, the legislature gave itself the right to conduct a line-by-line review of any future standards and force changes in contact standards and objectives with which they disagree.  Thomsen’s bill will force science into that disruptive, politically charged process now, rather than 6 years hence as is currently scheduled.  How many scientists or educators are there in the legislature?  How informed do you think that process is going to be? All of the decisions and purchases made for the curriculum materials process currently under way would be at risk.

HB 1537 has been assigned to the House Common Education Committee. Please contact the committee members and let them know how you feel about the bill. Emails should summarize you bottom-line position about the bill (Oppose HB 1537). Here is contact info for that committee:

Ann Coody, Chair, 557-7398, anncoody@okhouse.gov
Michael Rogers, Vice Chair, 557-7362, michael.rogers@okhouse.gov
Chad Caldwell, 557-7317, chad.caldwell@okhouse.gov
Ed Cannaday, 557-7375, ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov
Dennis Casey, 557-7344, dennis.casey@okhouse.gov
Donnie Condit, 557-7376, donnie.condit@okhouse.gov
Dan Fisher, 557-7311, dan.fisher@okhouse.gov
Katie Henke, 557-7361, katie.henke@okhouse.gov
John Paul Jordan, 557-7352, jp.jordan@okhouse.gov
Jeannie McDaniel, 557-7334, jeanniemcdaniel@okhouse.gov
Jason Nelson, 557-7335, jason.nelson@okhouse.gov
Jadine Nollan, 557-7390, jadine.nollan@okhouse.gov
Shane Stone, 557-7397, shane.stone@okhouse.gov
Chuck Strohm, 557-7331, chuck.strohm@okhouse.gov

Senate Bill 665, Oklahoma Science Education Act by Brecheen directly attacks the teaching of sound science.  The National Center for Science Education described the long history of this bill and the prior attempts by Senator Brecheen to disrupt science education on Oklahoma:

Senate Bill 665 (document), styled the Oklahoma Science Education Act, is the third antiscience bill of the year. SB 665 would, if enacted, in effect encourage science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach anything they pleased — proponents of creationism and climate change denial are the usual intended beneficiaries of such bills — and discourage responsible educational authorities from intervening. No scientific topics are specifically identified as controversial, but the fact that the sole sponsor of SB 665 is Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who introduced similar legislation that directly targeted evolution in previous legislative sessions, is suggestive.

SB 665 would require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies” and permit teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught”; it would prevent such authorities from “prohibit[ing] any teacher in a public school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.”

In late 2010, Brecheen announced his intention to file antievolution legislation in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 19, 2010): “Renowned scientists now asserting that evolution is laden with errors are being ignored. … Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings[,] is incomplete and unacceptable.” In a later column in the newspaper (December 24, 2010), he indicated that his intention was to have creationism presented as scientifically credible, writing, “I have introduced legislation requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution using the known science, even that which conflicts with Darwin’s religion.”

What Brecheen in fact introduced in 2011, Senate Bill 554, combined a version of the now familiar “academic freedom” language — referring to “the scientific strengths [and] scientific weaknesses of controversial topics … [which] include but are not limited to biological origins of life and biological evolution” — with a directive for the state board of education to adopt “standards and curricula” that echo the flawed portions of the state science standards adopted in Texas in 2009 with respect to the nature of science and evolution. SB 554 died in committee. In 2012, Brecheen took a new tack with Senate Bill 1742, modeled in part on the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act; SB 1742 likewise died in committee.

In 2013, Brecheen modified his approach again. Senate Bill 758 followed the lead of Tennessee’s “monkey law” (as it was nicknamed by House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh), enacted (as Tenn. Code Ann. 49-6-1030) over the protests of the state’s scientific and educational communities in 2012. The major difference is that SB 758 omitted the monkey law’s statement of legislative findings, which cites “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as among the topics that “can cause controversy” when taught in the science classroom of the public schools. The bill died in the Senate Education Committee.

In 2014, Brecheen introduced the virtually identical SB 1765. Like SB 758, it died in the Senate Education Committee, but not before eliciting opposition from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, which described the bill as “bad for science and bad for science education,” and the National Association of Biology Teachers, which warned that it “could easily permit non-science based discussions of ‘strengths and weaknesses’ to take place in science classrooms, confusing students about the nature of science.” Since Brecheen’s latest effort, SB 665, is virtually identical to SB 758 in 2013 and SB 1765 in 2014, it is sure to provoke a similar reaction.”

SB 665 has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee. Please contact the committee members and let them know you oppose the bill. Here is contact info for that committee:
John Ford, Chair, 521-5634, fordj@oksenate.gov
Ron Sharp, Vice Chair, 521-5539, sharp@oksenate.gov
Earl Garrison, 521-5533, whitep@oksenate.gov
Jim Halligan, 521-5572, halligan@oksenate.gov
Clark Jolley, 521-5622,jolley@oksenate.gov
Susan Paddack, 521-5541, paddack@oksenate.gov
Marty Quinn, 521-5555, quinn@oksenate.gov
Wayne Shaw, 521-5574, shaw@oksenate.gov
Jason Smalley, 521-5547, smalley@oksenate.gov
John Sparks, 521-5553, sparks@oksenate.gov
Gary Stanislawski, 521-5624, stanislawski@oksenate.gov
Roger Thompson, 521-5588, thompson@oksenate.gov

SB 21, the “The Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act” by Allen (UPDATE. SB 21 passed the Judiciary committee on February 24th on a 7-2 vote.  The bills title was stuck, which will lead to a re-work of it’s language.  Observers at the meeting reported a lack of discussion, although committee members had been provided with abundant information about the bill, including the effects of a similar bill enacted in Texas,  Senator Floyd did speak against the bill.)

Last legislative session and every year since 2008 we have written in this space about bills like SB 21.  This year’s version of  “The Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act” is by Senator Allen, but it is virtually identical to past bills filed by Representative Sally Kern (R- Oklahoma City).

Last February we wrote this about that session’s version of this bad idea:

“That bill was itself a reintroduced edition of HB 2211, which had failed the previous year. Nothing if not persistent, Rep. Kern has refiled the act this year as HB 1551, the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act”. The name and number of the bill may have changed, but the reasoning behind it is still bad.  It not only singles out specific areas of scientific study as controversial, it specifies that students may not he held accountable for embracing explanations in opposition to those derived through the scientific process.  Recognizing the folly of the original Kern bills, the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association issued the following statement when HB 2211 was making it’s way through the Legislature.  The statement is no less valid this time either:

“The Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association has issued the following statement concerning HB 2211, “The Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act”, by Representative Sally Kern, which is under consideration by the Legislature.“The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (OSTA) is dedicated to the promotion and development of high quality science education for all students in Oklahoma. The development of a scientifically literate citizenry, conversant in principles and processes of science, is essential for any state or nation to be competitive in a global economy. The effort to grow 21st century industry and agriculture, including Oklahoma’s burgeoning research in nanotechnology and biotechnology, depends on the availability of a scientifically literate workforce that understands the process of posing and testing hypotheses, logically evaluating the results, and expanding our understanding of the natural world. OSTA believes the provisions of HB 2211 hold great potential for harm to the development of scientifically literate citizens in this state. Teachers will be shackled in their efforts to guide students to explore scientific data and explanation and will be forced to give full credence and course credit to viewpoints that have no scientific data or basis. The damage to the credibility of an Oklahoma high school diploma cannot be overstated. While some might posit that examination and exploration of alternative viewpoints is appropriate in a classroom, those ideas that are not scientific and cannot be tested have no place in a science classroom. Under the provisions of this bill, teachers will be required to give full forum to non-scientific viewpoints and will be prevented from explaining that such ideas have no scientific support. Provisions currently in law and expressed in the Constitution give ample protection for religious expression within schools. The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association believes the late Harvard Paleontologist Steven J. Gould’s concept of “Nonoverlapping Magisteria” accurately reflects the interaction of science and religion; both having important, but non-interacting roles in helping us make sense of our place in the physical and spiritual world. HB 2211 actively violates that concept in a direct effort to inject religious viewpoints into public school classrooms and should not be enacted.”

NOW is the time to contact your Senator as well as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to express you opinions about this bill.

Important note to those of you who teach in Oklahoma Public Schools… Contacting your legislator on these matters during school time and on a school district computer is not recommended.  Taking action as a citizen is a spare-time activity best done on your computer using your email address at your home.

 Senate Judiciary Committee Members

Senator Anthony Sykes – Chair

Senator Brian Crain – Vice Chair

Senator Corey Brooks

Senator Kay Floyd

Senator A J Griffin

Senator David Holt

Senator John Sparks

Senator Rob Standridge

Senator Roger Thompson

Senator Greg Treat

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National Lab Day at OSU

Registration Opens for the

2015 OSU-National Lab Day Event

Oklahoma State University’s sixth annual National Lab Day is set for Tuesday, May 12, 2015, on the Stillwater campus. High school teachers are invited to bring students to OSU to visit science, engineering and mathematics research labs at the university. Hands-on activities will assist students in learning about current research at OSU while exploring career paths in STEM fields.

This year we can host up to 22 teachers who in turn can bring seven students currently in their sophomore or junior year in high school. With limited space available, early registration is encouraged.

Register here for the 2015 OSU-NLD event 

     http://education.okstate.edu/node/707

 For more information, please contact Dr. Julie Angle at (405) 744-8147 or Julie.angle@okstate.edu

 

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NCSE Evolution and Climate Change Update – 2.13.15

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BILL TO UNBLOCK NGSS PASSES WYOMING SENATE

Wyoming’s House Bill 23 was passed by the Senate on a 27-3 vote on February 12, 2015. The bill would allow the state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards by repealing a footnote in the state budget for 2014-2016 that precluded the use of state funds for “any review or adoption” of the NGSS.

The treatment of climate change was cited as the reason for the footnote in the budget, as NCSE previously reported. The Wyoming state board of education subsequently declined to develop a new set of science standards independent of the NGSS. Despite the legislature’s decision, local school districts are free to adopt the NGSS, and about fifteen (of forty-eight) have reportedly done so.

Before passing HB 23, the Senate amended it by adding, “The state board of education may consider, discuss or modify the next generation science standards, in addition to any other standards, content or benchmarks as it may  determine necessary, to develop quality science standards that are unique to Wyoming.” The House previously considered and rejected such a provision, so the bill will proceed to conference committee.

“It’s clear,” commented NCSE’s Mark McCaffrey, “that Wyoming educators want to be able to make use of the NGSS. It would be a shame if the Senate’s amendment to the bill survived, enabling the opponents of sound science education to lobby against the use of the standards as somehow not sufficiently unique to the state.”

For Wyoming’s House Bill 23 as introduced (PDF), visit:

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2015/Introduced/HB0023.pdf

And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Wyoming, visit:

http://ncse.com/news/wyoming

ANTISCIENCE BILL IN MONTANA DIES

Montana’s House Bill 321, which purports to “encourage critical thinking regarding controversial scientific theories” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, random mutation, natural selection, DNA, and fossil discoveries,” was tabled in the House Education Committee on February 9, 2015.

According to the Billings Gazette (January 29, 2015), the bill “would encourage high school teachers to present evolutionary biology as disputed theory rather than sound science and protect those who teach viewpoints like creationism in the classroom.”

The House Education Committee discussed HB 321 in its February 6, 2015, meeting. Only two testifiers, including the bill’s sponsor, Clayton Fiscus (R-District 46), spoke in favor of the bill, while over a dozen testifiers, including scientists, teachers, theologians, school board members, and concerned parents, testified against it.

For information about Montana’s House Bill 321, visit:

http://www.leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billhtml/HB0321.htm

For the story in the Billings Gazette, visit:

http://billingsgazette.com/news/government-and-politics/anti-evolution-bill-would-protect-hs-teachers-who-teach-creationism/article_6c80d5dc-13d4-5e28-a195-61e83e9d8d78.html

And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Montana, visit:

http://ncse.com/news/montana

ANTISCIENCE BILL IN SOUTH DAKOTA DIES

South Dakota’s Senate Bill 114 is out of commission, following a February 10, 2015, hearing in the Senate Education Committee. The committee voted to defer further consideration of the bill to the forty-first legislative day, and since the legislative session in South Dakota is forty days long in odd-numbered years, the bill is effectively dead.

Identifying “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning” as scientifically controversial, SB 114 would, in effect, have allowed public school teachers to miseducate their students about science—and would have prevented state and local educational authorities from intervening.

Testifying in support of the bill at the committee hearing were representatives of Concerned Women for America, the South Dakota Family Policy Council, and the Discovery Institute; testifying in opposition were representatives of the state department of education, the South Dakota Education Association, and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota.

For information about South Dakota’s Senate Bill 114, visit:

http://legis.sd.gov/Legislative_Session/Bills/Bill.aspx?File=SB114P.htm&Session=2015

And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in South Dakota, visit:

http://ncse.com/news/south-dakota

STORMS OVER NEW UTAH SCIENCE STANDARDS?

Utah’s new state standards for middle school science education are on hold, reports the Salt Lake Tribune (February 9, 2015) — and evolution and climate change may be the reason.

Although the draft standards were to be released for public review and comment in February 2015, the state board of education’s standards and assessment committee decided to postpone their release pending further revisions. Laura Belnap, a member of the board, told the newspaper that the reason for the committee’s decision was the incorporation of computer science in the standards.

In a subsequent editorial, however, the Tribune (February 9, 2015) complainedthat “the state board is in a holding pattern because of a few objections that the proposed standards are too accepting of such ‘controversial’ scientific principles as evolution and climate change,” adding, “in science class they teach science. Evolution and climate change included, or it cannot be called science class.”

The editorial may have been prompted by a comment from Vincent Newmeyer, a parent who served on a state committee that reviewed the standards, who felt that the draft standards took a position on controversial subjects. “That is true with global warming, that is true with Darwinian evolution and a number of other things,” Newmeyer told the newspaper. “It’s not a science class in these areas. It’s an indoctrination class.”

“With the public review now on hold,” the Tribune commented, “it is not clear what the next steps for the science standards will be.”

For the Salt Lake Tribune’s story and editorial, visit:

http://www.sltrib.com/home/2150311-155/new-school-science-standards-for-utah

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2159511-155/editorial-utah-is-not-exempt-from

And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Utah, visit:

http://ncse.com/news/utah

—–

Thanks for reading. And don’t forget to visit NCSE’s website –
http://ncse.com – where you can always find the latest news on
evolution and climate education and threats to them.

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
branch@ncse.com
http://ncse.com

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OESE Legislative Update

o-OKLAHOMA-STATE-CAPITOL-BUILDING-facebook

Senate Bill 665, the “Oklahoma Science Education Act” by Brecheen is legislation that directly attacks the teaching of sound science.  The bill is virtually identical to a bill filed by Brecheen last year that died in the Senate Education Committee. Analysis of the bill by Rich Brougton is here. A description of the bill and its history is on the NCSE site. Additional information at the Sensuous CurmudgeonScience is OK, and Okie Funk.

Action is NEEDED NOW: SB 665 has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee. Please contact the committee members and let them know you oppose the bill. It is important that messages go to ALL committee members. A short message is all that is need NUMBERS of messages is what counts. To send separate messages to committee, see OESE web site post. To save time copy and paste the addresses below and mention ‘oppose SB 665’ in subject line. You can the same for HB 1537:

For Microsoft,( semicolon and space between addresses):
fordj@oksenate.govsharp@oksenate.govwhitep@oksenate.govhalligan@oksenate.govjolley@oksenate.gov;paddack@oksenate.govquinn@oksenate.govshaw@oksenate.govsmalley@oksenate.govthompson@oksenate.gov

For gmail (, and space between addresses)

fordj@oksenate.govsharp@oksenate.govwhitep@oksenate.govhalligan@oksenate.govjolley@oksenate.gov,paddack@oksenate.govquinn@oksenate.govshaw@oksenate.govsmalley@oksenate.govthompson@oksenate.gov

House Bill 1537 by Thomsen would replace the current science standards with a new, as yet unwritten set of science standards to be produced before the start of the 2016-2017 academic year.

Governor Fallin approved new Oklahoma science standards in June of last year.

Action NEEDED NOW: HB 1537 has been assigned to the House Common Education Committee. Please contact the committee members and let them know you oppose the bill. Mention opposition to HB 1537 in subject. Here is contact info for that committee: 

Microsoft email: 

anncoody@okhouse.govmichael.rogers@okhouse.govchad.caldwell@okhouse.gov
ed.cannaday@okhouse.govdennis.casey@okhouse.govdonnie.condit@okhouse.govdan.fisher@okhouse.gov;katie.henke@okhouse.govjp.jordan@okhouse.govjeanniemcdaniel@okhouse.govjason.nelson@okhouse.gov;jadine.nollan@okhouse.gov;
shane.stone@okhouse.govchuck.strohm@okhouse.gov

gmail;

anncoody@okhouse.govmichael.rogers@okhouse.govchad.caldwell@okhouse.gov
ed.cannaday@okhouse.govdennis.casey@okhouse.govdonnie.condit@okhouse.govdan.fisher@okhouse.gov,katie.henke@okhouse.govjp.jordan@okhouse.govjeanniemcdaniel@okhouse.govjason.nelson@okhouse.gov,jadine.nollan@okhouse.gov,
shane.stone@okhouse.govchuck.strohm@okhouse.gov

OESE is also opposed to SB 21, the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimnation Act. You can send messages to the Senate Education Committee by using the Senate addresses above.

Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education
P.O. BOX 721454
NORMAN, OK 73070
oklascience@gmail.com
http://www.oklascience.org/
OESE_logo
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Legislative update

SB 21, the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act by Allen has been referred to the Judiciary Committee and SB 665, the Oklahoma Science Education Act by Brecheen has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Both of these bills have been discussed previously on this website.

A previous and very similar version of SB 21 was discussed 4 years ago here: http://www.oklahomascienceteachersassociation.org/?p=2553

And SB 665 was discussed last month here: http://www.oklahomascienceteachersassociation.org/?p=6162

NOW is the time to contact your Senator as well as members of the Senate Judiciary and Education Committees to express you opinions about these two bills.

Important note to those of you who teach in Oklahoma Public Schools… Contacting your legislator on these matters during school time and on a school district computer is not recommended.  Taking action as a citizen is a spare-time activity best done on your computer using your email address at your home.

 Senate Judiciary Committee Members

Senator Anthony Sykes – Chair

Senator Brian Crain – Vice Chair

Senator Corey Brooks

Senator Kay Floyd

Senator A J Griffin

Senator David Holt

Senator John Sparks

Senator Rob Standridge

Senator Roger Thompson

Senator Greg Treat

 Senate Education Committee Members

Senator John Ford – Chair

Senator Ron Sharp – Vice Chair

Senator Josh Brecheen

Senator Earl Garrison

Senator Jim Halligan

Senator Clark Jolley

Senator Susan Paddack

Senator Marty Quinn

Senator Wayne Shaw

Senator Jason Smalley

Senator John Sparks

Senator Gary Stanislawski

Senator Roger Thompson

 

 

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NCSE Update – 2.6.2015

DARWIN DAY RESOLUTION IN CONGRESSlogo_new_final_med

House Resolution 67, introduced in the United States House of Representatives on February 2, 2015, would, if passed, express the House’s support of designating February 12, 2015, as Darwin Day, and its recognition of “Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to focus and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity intended to promote a common bond among all of Earth’s peoples.”

Jim Himes (D-Connecticut), the lead sponsor of the bill, explained in a January 26, 2015, press release from the American Humanist Association, “Charles Darwin’s discoveries gave humankind a new, revolutionary way of thinking about the natural world and our place in it. His insatiable quest for knowledge and decades of meticulous observation and analysis opened new pathways for advancements in biology, medicine, genetics and ecology.” He added, “Without Darwin’s contributions to science, philosophy and reason, our understanding of the world’s complexity and grandeur would be significantly diminished.”

  1. Res. 67 is the latest in a string of similar bills: H. Res. 467 in 2014 and H. Res. 41 in 2013, introduced by Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) — who, having not run for re-election, is about to become the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science—and H. Res. 81 in 2011, introduced by Pete Stark (D-California.) All three of the previous resolutions eventually died in committee.

“2015 has already seen five states introduce antievolution measures, so it’s wonderful to see a resolution that recognizes the importance of teaching evolution,” commented NCSE’s executive director Ann Reid. “I encourage members and friends of NCSE to urge their representatives to support H. Res. 67. The problem is real: one of eight U.S. public high school biology teachers are explicitly presenting creationism, and six of ten are reluctant to teach evolution properly. So, yes, support H. Res 67, but don’t overlook the many ways to defend the teaching of evolution locally.”

For House Resolution 67 (PDF), visit:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114hres67ih/pdf/BILLS-114hres67ih.pdf

For the American Humanist Association’s press release, visit:

http://americanhumanist.org/news/details/2015-01-congressional-resolution-introduced-to-support-darwi

For a press release about Rush Holt’s becoming the new CEO of AAAS, visit:

http://www.aaas.org/news/AAASCEO

And for a list of ways to support evolution education, visit:

http://ncse.com/taking-action/29-ways-to-support-science-education

VIEWS ON CLIMATE CHANGE AMONG THE PUBLIC AND SCIENTISTS

Whereas seven out of eight of scientists say that humans are causing global warming, only half of the public agrees, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Asked which comes closer to their view, “The earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels,” “The earth is getting warmer mostly because of natural patterns in the earth’s environment,” or “There is no solid evidence that the earth is getting warmer,” 87% of scientists responding chose the first option, 9% chose the second option, and 3% chose the third option, while 50% of the public responding chose the first option, 23% chose the second option, and 25% chose the third option.

In a separate series of questions, the respondents from the public were asked, “From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?” Yes was the answer of 72% of respondents, with 46% regarding it as “mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels” and 22% regarding it as “mostly because of natural patterns in the earth’s environment.” No was the answer of 25% of respondents, with 11% agreeing that “we just don’t know enough yet about whether the Earth is getting warmer” and 13% agreeing that “it’s just not happening.”

The respondents from the public were asked whether scientists generally agree that earth is getting warmer due to human activity, with 57% answering yes and 37% answering no. The report observes, “Perceptions of where the scientific community stands on climate change have fluctuated from a low of 44% in 2010 who said that scientists agree … to a high of 57% saying this today.” There was a correlation between regarding scientists in agreement on global warming and accepting global warming: “Those who say either that climate change is occurring due to natural patterns in the earth’s environment or who do not believe there is solid evidence of climate change are more inclined to see scientists as divided.”

Demographically, the report explains, “[v]iews about climate change tend to differ by party and political ideology, as also was the case in past surveys. Democrats are more likely than either political independents or Republicans to say there is solid evidence the earth is warming. And, moderate or liberal Republicans are more likely to say the earth is warming than are conservative Republicans. Past Pew Research surveys have also shown more skepticism among Tea Party Republicans that the earth is warming. Consistent with past surveys, there are wide differences in views about climate change by age, with adults ages 65 and older more skeptical than younger age groups that there is solid evidence the earth is warming.”

The questions about evolution were part of a larger project, conducted by the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, investigating the public’s attitude toward science and comparing it to the attitude of scientists. The report relied on two surveys, one conducted by telephone among members of the general public in the United States in August 2014, and one conducted on-line among members of the AAAS in September and October 2014. The broader significance of the project’s results are summarized in the Pew Research Center’s report, issued on January 29, 2015.

For the Pew Research Center’s report (in text and PDF formats), visit:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/

http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/01/PI_ScienceandSociety_Report_012915.pdf

And for NCSE’s collection of polls and surveys on climate, visit:

http://ncse.com/polls/polls-climate-change

VIEWS ON EVOLUTION AMONG THE PUBLIC AND SCIENTISTS

Whereas nearly all scientists say that humans and other living things have evolved over time, only two thirds of the public agrees, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Asked which comes closer to their view, “Humans and other living things have evolved over time” or “Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time,” 98% of scientists responding chose the former option and only 2% chose the latter option; 65% of the public responding chose the former option and 31% chose the latter option.

Those who chose the former option were also asked whether they preferred “Humans and other living things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection” or “A supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.” Among scientists, 90% preferred the former option and 8% preferred the latter option; among the public, 35% preferred the former option and 24% preferred the latter option. Members of the public were also asked whether scientists generally agree that humans evolved over time; 66% said yes, 29% said no.

Demographically, acceptance of evolution was correlated with level of education: “Three-quarters (75%) of college graduates believe that humans have evolved over time, compared with 56% of those who ended their formal education with a high school diploma or less.” The report adds, “Beliefs about evolution also differ strongly by religion and political group, as was also the case in past surveys,” but deferred the details to a future publication. Judging from similar previous surveys, rejection of evolution was probably associated with conservative political attitudes and religiosity.

The same questions were asked in a Pew Research Center survey in 2009, providing a basis for a longitudinal comparison. In 2009, 97% of scientists and 61% of the public accepted evolution, while 2% of scientists and 31% of the public rejected evolution. Among scientists who accepted evolution, 87% attributed it to natural processes and 8% to divine guidance; among members of the public who accepted evolution, 32% attributed it to natural processes and 22% to divine guidance. Members of the public were asked whether scientists generally agree that humans evolved over time; 60% said yes, 28% said no.

The questions about evolution were part of a larger project, conducted by the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, investigating the public’s attitude toward science and comparing it to the attitude of scientists. The report relied on two surveys, one conducted by telephone among members of the general public in the United States in August 2014, and one conducted on-line among members of the AAAS in September and October 2014. The broader significance of the project’s results are summarized in the Pew Research Center’s report, issued on January 29, 2015.

For the Pew Research Center’s report (in text and PDF formats), visit:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/

http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/01/PI_ScienceandSociety_Report_012915.pdf

For the Pew Research Center’s 2009 report (PDF), visit:

http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/528.pdf

And for NCSE’s collection of polls and surveys, visit:

http://ncse.com/creationism/polls-surveys

MONTANA’S ANTISCIENCE BILL IN THE NEWS

“A Billings legislator has reintroduced a bill that would encourage high school teachers to present evolutionary biology as disputed theory rather than sound science and protect those who teach viewpoints like creationism in the classroom,” reports the Billings Gazette (January 29, 2015).

The bill is House Bill 321 — formerly bill draft LC 1324 — which is the fifth antiscience bill in 2015, after Missouri’s House Bill 486, Indiana’s Senate Bill 562, Oklahoma’s Senate Bill 665, and South Dakota’s Senate Bill 114. All five bills are similar to Tennessee’s “monkey law,” enacted over the protests of the state’s scientific and educational communities in 2012.

Introduced by Clayton Fiscus (R-District 46), who introduced a similar bill in 2013, HB 321 purports to “emphasize critical thinking in instruction related to controversial scientific theories on the origin of life” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, random mutation, natural selection, DNA, and fossil discoveries.”

“That’s all bunk,” NCSE’s Glenn Branch told the Gazette. “[Fiscus] thinks that these whole fields are scientifically controversial, and that’s not true.” He added that if enacted, the bill would allow teachers with fringe or crank ideas to present them in class, unchecked by administrations. “It’s inviting the teachers to go rogue.”

Craig Beals, a Billings science teacher and the 2015 Montana Teacher of the Year, told the newspaper that he teaches evolution, climate change, and the Big Bang in his classes, adding, “The topics have long been debated not because scientists disagree but because the topics don’t always agree with people’s beliefs.”

For the story in the Billings Gazette,

http://billingsgazette.com/news/government-and-politics/anti-evolution-bill-would-protect-hs-teachers-who-teach-creationism/article_6c80d5dc-13d4-5e28-a195-61e83e9d8d78.html

For information about Montana’s House Bill 321, visit:

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billhtml/HB0321.htm

And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Montana, visit:

http://ncse.com/news/montana

 DARWIN DAY APPROACHES

It’s time to dust off your Darwin costume again: less than a week remains before Darwin Day 2015! Colleges and universities, schools, libraries, museums, churches, civic groups, and just plain folks across the country—and the world—are preparing to celebrate Darwin Day, on or around February 12, in honor of the life and work of Charles Darwin. These events provide a marvelous opportunity not only to celebrate Darwin’s birthday but also to engage in public outreach about science, evolution, and the importance of evolution education— which is especially needed with assaults on evolution education already under way in state legislatures. NCSE encourages its members and friends to attend, participate in, and even organize Darwin Day events in their own communities. To find a local event, check the websites of local universities and museums and the registry of Darwin Day events maintained by the Darwin Day Celebration website. (And don’t forget to register your own event with the Darwin Day Celebration website!)

And with Darwin Day comes the return of Evolution Weekend! Hundreds of congregations all over the country and around the world are taking part in Evolution Weekend, February 13-15, 2015, by presenting sermons and discussion groups on the compatibility of faith and science. Michael Zimmerman, the initiator of the project, writes, “Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic—to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith. Finally, as with The Clergy Letter itself, Evolution Weekend makes it clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy.” At last count, 439 congregations in forty-five states (and twelve foreign countries) were scheduled to hold Evolution Weekend events.

For the Darwin Day registry, visit:

http://darwinday.org/events/

http://darwinday.org/events/community/add

For information about Evolution Weekend, visit:

http://www.evolutionweekend.org/

Thanks for reading. And don’t forget to visit NCSE’s website— http://ncse.com – where you can always find the latest news on evolution and climate education and threats to them.

Glenn Branch

Deputy Director

National Center for Science Education, Inc.

420 40th Street, Suite 2

Oakland, CA 94609-2509

510-601-7203 x303

fax: 510-601-7204

800-290-6006

branch@ncse.com

http://ncse.com

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TiffanyGram – 2.4.15

Greetings Science Educators!

I hope the week finds you well. It has been a very busy time for many of us since returning from Winter Break! We are wrapping up the last three Science Standards Regional Workshops around the state and the Oklahoma Science Standards Framework Project is moving full steam ahead! Currently we have nineteen highly qualified Oklahoma educators working diligently to prepare resources to support OKSci teachers as they implement the new Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science.

The resources should be available sometime this summer. However, we will be putting out samples of the resources this spring!

Assessment Update:

I wanted to introduce you to our new Science Assessment Coordinator at the SDE, Tony Cortez. Tony is taking over for Craig Walker, but Craig still remains in the assessment office and will continue to support districts and teachers.

Contact Information:

Tony Cortez

P: (405) 522-3341

E-mail: Tony.Cortez@sde.ok.gov

Resources:

  1. Biology practice test and reference sheet can be accessed using the following link: Testing Resources

Use the information below to get started with the practice test:

URL: http://oklahoma.measuredprogress.org

Student Login: practice

Password: Oklahoma

  1. State Score Summary Report can be accessed using the following link: Science Score Summary Sheet
  2. Spring Testing Updates can be accessed using the following link: Spring Testing Updates

Science Assessment Q&A

Below you will find a short Q&A regarding several questions we’ve received and responses from Tony and/or Craig.

Q1: Can students use calculators on the 8th grade science test this year?

A1: Scientific calculators can be used for the 8th grade science test, please refer to the following link for more information: Calculator Policy.

Q2: Do students need a scientific calculator for the 8th grade science test this year?

A2: Scientific calculators (or 4 function calculators) are allowed on the Grade 8 science test for Spring 2015.  We didn’t want to restrict calculator usage to just 4 function calculators because teacher committees stated that both types of calculators were used during classroom instruction, so the policy includes scientific calculators.  Cosine/sine functions will not be needed for Grade 8 science calculations.  As an example, a student may encounter an item that requires students to calculate speed of an object (See page 17 of the Test & Item Specification document).

Q3: Are formulas going to be provided on the 8th grade science test this year?

A3: All Grade 8 science items requiring the use of formulas are embedded in each item.

Q4: Will the 8th grade science tests be paper-based or computer-based this year:

A4: Grade 8 science tests will be paper-based tests for Spring 2015.  We intend to provide Grade 8 Science and Social Studies through a computer-based test in Spring 2016. The decision has not been finalized.

Q5: Are there online practice tests for 5th or 8th science?

A5: Only online tests will have online practice tests.  The purpose of the online practice tests is to familiarize students with the tools that they will be using during the exam such as the eraser function, scientific calculator, etc.  The parent teacher student guide (PTSG) would be the manual of reference for paper/ pencil tests. Spring 3-8 PSTG’s will be online 2/6/15 and EOI PSTG’s will be online 2/9/15.

Resources Shared on #OKSci Facebook:

There are several questions being posted concerning textbooks and the textbook adoption process on the OKSci Facebook page. Check out the responses by other science by joining the OKSci Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/118400268320217/ .

Educator Opportunities:

Summer Authentic Research Experience for Teachers

Where – Participants will either be on-site (stipend & lodging provided) working with NSF EPSCoR Research Scientists at:

(1) Kiamichi Forest Research Station near Idabel

(2) Urban ecology in Oklahoma City and K20 in Norman:

Areas of Study:

Kiamichi:  (1) Ecological response of plants and animals to drought

Urban area: (2) Vegetation response to drought, land cover and land use

When – Monday-Thursday, June 8-11, 2015

Register at https://k20.wufoo.com/forms/z1a02xfm0247ib5/

For more information, contact Quentin Biddy 405-325-2530 quentinbiddy@ou.edu

 

Improving Your Schoolyard Habitat Workshop:

See attached SchoolSite Workshop Flyer for details.

Hosted By: The Oklahoma Green Schools Program & Oklahoma Project Learning Tree

When: February 21st

Where: OSU Botanic Garden in Stillwater

Register: http://www.forestry.ok.gov/workshop-schedule

 

Yellowstone Science Course for Educators.

Oklahoma State University will host a new travel course, Yellowstone Science for Educators. During the first three days of this two week course graduate (CIED 5280) and undergraduate (CIED 4560) students will hear presentations from top scientists regarding the science of Yellowstone (i.e. extremophiles, plate tectonics, deforestation due to natural causes, ecological impacts of specie introduction, etc.). Then we head to Yellowstone National Park to experience the scientific wonders of this majestic place. In addition to course readings, students will develop a standards-based lesson addressing the science of Yellowstone. Application Deadline is March 9th 2015 with a limit of 15 students. For more information contact Dr. Julie Angle at mailto:Julie.angle@okstate.edu or Vallory Vencill at vallory.vencill@okstate.edu .

Student Opportunities:

Kansas-Nebraska-Oklahoma Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS).

This prestigious event provides high school students (9-12) with an opportunity to present their original research and research paper to a panel of judges. Sponsored by the Academy of Applied Sciences, and held on the OSU Stillwater campus, the first place award winner will receive $2,000, second place $1500, and third place $1,000 cash scholarship. Five students will receive an all expense paid trip to the national JSHS competition with the potential of earning an additional $12,000 scholarship.

Hotel and food will be provided free to participating students and sponsoring teacher. Sponsoring teachers will receive a $100 stipend with the potential of winning the $500 teacher award.

Student applications and research papers are due by 5:00 on Tuesday February 24th, 2015. For more information go to:  https://education.okstate.edu/outreach/jsh or contact Dr. Julie Angle at mailto:Julie.angle@okstate.edu .

 

NSTA Free Articles

Elementary: Virtual Modeling – http://static.nsta.org/files/sc1505_30.pdf

Observing Life in a Square – http://static.nsta.org/files/sc1404_26.pdf

Middle School: No Ordinary Coronary – http://static.nsta.org/files/ss1404_24.pdf

High School: Project Based Science – http://static.nsta.org/files/tst1501_25.pdf

Catching the Wrong Species – http://static.nsta.org/files/tst1409_25.pdf

Stay Connected:

Social Media:

Twitter: @tiffanyneill

Facebook: #OKSci

Hashtags: #oksde #OKSci #OKSTEM

Sign Up for a Twitter account: https://twitter.com/

Accessing Archived Science Messages:

You can access Archived Science Messages I’ve sent out since March via the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (OSTA) website. Scroll down to see previous posts. 

Science Listserv:

Please encourage others to register for the science listserv and pass along the following registration link:

Register for Science Listserv

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have!

 

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Legislative Tools for Science Teachers

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The Oklahoma Legislature begins it’s 55th regular session next week.  Here are some popular links and resources that you might find handy at some point during the next 4 months until adjournment at the end of May:

Aren’t sure who to contact?  Find your House Representative or Senator here:

 http://www.oklegislature.gov/findmylegislature.aspx

The House Common Education Committee is found here:

http://www.okhouse.gov/Committees/CommitteeMembers.aspx?CommID=255&SubCommID=0&clientHeight=633&clientWidth=1220

The Senate Education Committee is found here:

http://www.oksenate.gov/Committees/standingcommittees.aspx

On the legislature website you can track and find the text of bills, find committee members, and even set up automatic notification of action on bills as they progress through the process.

http://www.oklegislature.gov

The process whereby a bill becomes law can be VERY confusing.  A roadmap to the process can be found here:

http://www.okhouse.gov/Information/CourseOfBills.aspx

Another site you might find useful is Legiscan, which tracks legislation and features some interesting search and browse features.

https://legiscan.com/OK

Here is an interesting education-related bill tracking spreadsheet from the OKELA site:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16WdOMCiOr0hPifFJ3BjIOg2U6NesWx-VG385Tbe3WeQ/edit?pli=1

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HB 1537 Introduced to Re-Write Science Standards (Again)

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District 25 (Pontotoc county) Representative Todd Thompsen has introduced legislation that, if passed, would re-write Science Standards for the 3rd time in 5 years. HB 1537 modifies the law from last year that scrapped the Common Core and mandated new College and Career Ready standards for ELA and Math to include Science.  This is despite the year’s-long efforts of K-20 educators, parents, industry leaders, research scientists and college professors to develop the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science that were enacted in June of last year.

The essential portion of the bill is:

  1. In addition to the requirements set forth in subsection A of this section, on or before August 1, 2017, the State Board of Education shall adopt subject matter standards for Science which are college- and career-ready and will replace the current standards. The meaning of college- and career-ready shall be the same as set forth in subsection B of this section.

Stay tuned…

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Antiscience Bill Filed in Oklahoma Senate (Again)

(Based on information from the National Center for Science Education with additional information from Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education)

Senate Bill 665 (document), styled the Oklahoma Science Education Act, is the third antiscience bill of the year. (Read about the VERY similar bills filed in Montana, and Indiana here). SB 665 would, if enacted, in effect encourage science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach anything they pleased — proponents of creationism and climate change denial are the usual intended beneficiaries of such bills — and discourage responsible educational authorities from intervening. No scientific topics are specifically identified as controversial, but the fact that the sole sponsor of SB 665 is Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who introduced similar legislation that directly targeted evolution in previous legislative sessions, is suggestive.

SB 665 would require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies” and permit teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught”; it would prevent such authorities from “prohibit[ing] any teacher in a public school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.”

In late 2010, Brecheen announced his intention to file antievolution legislation in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 19, 2010): “Renowned scientists now asserting that evolution is laden with errors are being ignored. … Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings[,] is incomplete and unacceptable.” In a later column in the newspaper (December 24, 2010), he indicated that his intention was to have creationism presented as scientifically credible, writing, “I have introduced legislation requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution using the known science, even that which conflicts with Darwin’s religion.”

What Brecheen in fact introduced in 2011, Senate Bill 554, combined a version of the now familiar “academic freedom” language — referring to “the scientific strengths [and] scientific weaknesses of controversial topics … [which] include but are not limited to biological origins of life and biological evolution” — with a directive for the state board of education to adopt “standards and curricula” that echo the flawed portions of the state science standards adopted in Texas in 2009 with respect to the nature of science and evolution. SB 554 died in committee. In 2012, Brecheen took a new tack with Senate Bill 1742, modeled in part on the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act; SB 1742 likewise died in committee.

In 2013, Brecheen modified his approach again. Senate Bill 758 followed the lead of Tennessee’s “monkey law” (as it was nicknamed by House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh), enacted (as Tenn. Code Ann. 49-6-1030) over the protests of the state’s scientific and educational communities in 2012. The major difference is that SB 758 omitted the monkey law’s statement of legislative findings, which cites “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as among the topics that “can cause controversy” when taught in the science classroom of the public schools. The bill died in the Senate Education Committee.

In 2014, Brecheen introduced the virtually identical SB 1765. Like SB 758, it died in the Senate Education Committee, but not before eliciting opposition from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, which described the bill as “bad for science and bad for science education,” and the National Association of Biology Teachers, which warned that it “could easily permit non-science based discussions of ‘strengths and weaknesses’ to take place in science classrooms, confusing students about the nature of science.” Since Brecheen’s latest effort, SB 665, is virtually identical to SB 758 in 2013 and SB 1765 in 2014, it is sure to provoke a similar reaction.

——————-

An analysis of SB 665 has been written by OU Biology Professor Richard Broughton. Read “Why SB 665 by Brecheen is a Bad Law” here.

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