Yesterday turned out to be a pretty good day for science education.
In Michigan, the Board of Education unanimously voted down an attempt to gut the evolution section of the Michigan science standards. This proposal had been put forward by a few creationist legislators after their similar efforts failed in the legislature this summer. See writeups by Michigan Citizens for Science and Ed Brayton at Dispatches, and the AP story at LiveScience.
In Ohio, the strife over Discovery Institute-inspired antievolution policies has been continuous since about 2002. It apparently came to an abrupt end yesterday when the full board voted 14-3 to override the Achievement Subcommittee’s attempts to produce a replacement for the infamous “Critical Analysis of Evolution” standard and lesson plan. See the updated PT post by Dick Hoppe and the summary at Ohio Citizens for Science, and the story in the Akron Beacon-Journal. (Of course, some of the board members haven’t given up and vow to raise the issue again, so we may be in for more.)
Some important notes: both of these victories absolutely required long-term vigilance and a tremendous amount of endurance from the local Citizens for Science groups, Michigan Citizens for Science and Ohio Citizens for Science. In both cases, members of these groups spoke at public hearings, often more than once, and also had to work to educate the politicians and the press about what the issues were. This is what it takes to win. If you haven’t already, look up the Citizens for Science group in your state, or consider starting one if the issue is on the horizon in your state.
Furthermore, in an interesting pattern, the creationists in each situation were attempting to put off any action on the proposals. This could just be an express of “delaying a vote is better than losing a vote”, but it may also indicate that antievolutionism has become a political hot potato that politicians would rather not deal with in an election season. This is pretty encouraging, but it’s already pretty clear that the ID guys have a raft of new dreck for the public schools in the pipeline for after the election. If only all antievolutionists saw what Paul Nelson sees, which is that political machinations and deceptive propaganda aimed at the public schools actually fatally undermine any attempt to make their views scientifically respectable. Did Einstein, or Watson and Crick, lobby school boards to get their theories into the schools so that they would later be accepted in the scientific community? The very idea is ridiculous.