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AIBS Public Policy Report for 25 October 2004

  • Pennsylvania: Local school board pushes intelligent design creationism
  • Wisconsin School Board Approves Intelligent Design
  • Update: Creationism in Grand Canyon National Park
  • From the AIBS Federal Register Resource

The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks to AIBS membership leaders and contacts, including the President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Director, AIBS Council Representative, Journal Editor, Newsletter Editor, Public Policy Committee Chair, Public Policy Representative, and Education Committee Chair of all AIBS member societies and organizations (see the Membership Directories for contact information).

All material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. Please mention AIBS as the source; office staff appreciate receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Dr. Robert Gropp [publ...@aibs.org; 202-628-1500 x250].


Pennsylvania: Local school board pushes intelligent design creationism

On October 18, 2004, the Dover Area School Board in Pennsylvania amended its science curriculum to include, "Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of life will not be taught." The curriculum change was spearheaded by board member and creationism advocate, William Buckingham, and approved over the objections of science teachers, school administrators, and 11 of 12 parents that testified at the board meeting. Buckingham's crusade to include alternatives to "Darwin's Theory" is seemingly the result of a request by Dover science teachers to adopt the 2002 edition of Kenneth R. Miller and Joseph Levine's "Biology: The Living Science." Buckingham, who chairs the board's curriculum committee, reportedly complained that the Miller and Levine book focused on "Darwinism" and vowed to adopt a textbook in which both evolution and creationism are presented. Citizens and other board members that expressed a concern that such a book is illegal and would result in the school district being drawn into a costly lawsuit did not dissuade Buckingham.

A number of local citizens are working to reverse the board's recent actions. Scientists and educators that live in or have friends and family in or near the Dover, PA area and wish to become involved with efforts to reverse the Board's decision should contact Nick Matzke at the National Center for Science Education (www.ncseweb.org). Pennsylvania residents interested in this and other threats to science education in Pennsylvania may wish to join the AIBS/NCSE Pennsylvania State Evolution List Serve.

Wisconsin School Board Approves Intelligent Design

Under the guise of improving student critical thinking skills, the Grantsburg School Board has adopted a new science curriculum policy that requires, "When theories of origin are taught, students will study various scientific models or theories of origin and identify the scientific data supporting each." According to board chairman, Dave Ahlquist, the policy is "opening the door that was closed before and was too narrow." Board member Cindy Jensen said of the new policy, "I don't think it's that big a deal." Deans from throughout the University of Wisconsin system strongly disagree, however, and have already sent a letter to the Grantsburg School Board that expresses their concern with the policy change, in part noting that teaching non-scientific concepts in science courses does not improve students understanding of the nature of science or improve critical thinking skills. A number of parents, scientists and educators have also expressed a concern with the new policy.

Wisconsin residents that wish to become involved with this matter may wish to contact the National Center for Science Education (www.ncseweb.org). Additionally, scientists and educators in Wisconsin may stay appraised of developments via the AIBS/NCSE Wisconsin State Evolution List Serve.

Update: Creationism in Grand Canyon National Park

In December 2003 the leaders of seven geoscience societies and the American Institute of Biological Sciences sent letters to the National Park Service requesting that NPS review its policy for determining what kinds of materials are sold within Grand Canyon National Park. The letter was in response to reports that a young-Earth creationist picture book was being sold alongside mainstream science publications in GCNP bookstores. In response to the letter and also from pressure from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and others, the National Park Service announced that it would begin a review of its guidelines for determining what materials are sold or disseminated within National Parks. Since early 2004, the park service has maintained that it was reviewing the policy. Within the last month, however, some reports have begun to emerge that suggest that a policy review has not been initiated.

On October 13, 2004, PEER - "a national non-profit alliance of local, state and federal scientists, law enforcement officers, land managers and other professionals dedicated to upholding environmental laws and values" - issued a press release accusing the NPS of failing to carry out its promised review of the policies governing the selections of books for sale in the bookstores overseen by the NPS. According to PEER, NPS has also failed to respond to a memorandum from the chief of its own Geologic Resources Division. As reported by the Washington Post newspaper, a NPS spokesperson indicated that the policy review was previously expected to be completed in February 2004. The NPS spokesperson said that "It's difficult on where to draw the line on these issues. We are moving very carefully and very cautiously."

From the AIBS Federal Register Resource

www.aibs.org/federal-register-resource/index.html

Week of October 18-22, 2004

COMMERCE

  • National Medal of Technology Nomination Evaluation Committee; Notice of Determination for Closure of Meeting

DEFENSE

  • National Security Education Board Meeting
  • Coastal Engineering Research Board (CERB)

EDUCATION

  • International Research and Studies Program; Notice Inviting Application for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005
  • National Board of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education

ENERGY

  • Office of Science; Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

  • FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel; Notice of Public Meeting
  • FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel; Notice of Public Meeting
  • Science Advisory Board Staff Office; Notification of an Upcoming Meeting of the Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); National Toxicology Program (NTP); NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM): Availability of Updated Standardized In Vitro Cytotoxicity Test Method Protocols for Estimating Acute Oral Systemic Toxicity; Request for Existing In Vivo and In Vitro Acute Toxicity Data

HOMELAND SECURITY

  • Notice of Meeting of Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

  • Notice of Intent To Seek Approval To Extend a Current Information Collection

From the week of October 12-15, 2004

AGRICULTURE

  • General Conference Committee of the National Poultry Improvement Plan; Reestablish

COMMERCE

  • Public Comment for Enhancement of the Initial Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)

DEFENSE

  • National Security Education Board Meeting

EDUCATION

  • Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education
  • National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, (National Advisory Committee); Meeting

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

  • Science Advisory Board (SAB) Staff Office Notification of Upcoming Meeting of the Regional Vulnerability Assessment Advisory Panel

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

  • Stimulating Innovation in Medical Technologies; Public Meeting

HOMELAND SECURITY

  • Adding Actuaries and Plant Pathologists to Appendix 1603.D.1 of the North American Free Trade Agreement

INTERIOR

  • Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force Northeast Regional Panel Meeting

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

  • NASA Advisory Council, Education Advisory Committee; Meeting

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

  • Notice of Meeting; Advisory Committee for Polar Programs
  • Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences; Notice of Meeting

 


The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association headquartered in Washington DC, with a staff of approximately 30. It was founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences and has been an independent organization since the mid-1950s, governed by a Board of Directors elected by its membership. The AIBS membership consists of approximately 6,000 biologists and 80 professional societies and other organizations; the combined individual membership of the latter exceeds 240,000 biologists. AIBS is an umbrella organization for the biological sciences dedicated to promoting an understanding of the natural living world, including the human species and its welfare, by engaging in coalition activities with its members in research, education, public policy, and public outreach; publishing the peer-reviewed journal, BioScience; providing scientific peer review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients; convening scientific meetings; and performing administrative and other support services for its member organizations.


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