Ann Reid is new executive director of NCSE


Genie Scott has announced her retirement, and Ann Reid will take over as new Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education. Congratulations to both Dr. Scott and Dr. Reid! Dr. Reid is a research scientist whose team sequenced the 1918 influenza virus at the Air Force Institute of Technology. One colleague credited her with the additional ability to herd cats. See the NCSE press release here.


No one can really replace Genie, but Ann Reid sounds highly qualified, and I wish her all the best in carrying on NCSE’s mission. And I hope Genie enjoys her much-deserved retirement, although I’m sure she will continue to serve in other ways. Genie’s calm, reasoned commitment to the defense of teaching evolution, and her ability to connect with so many of us personally, has been an inspiration that hovered over our local efforts in Kansas, and, I’m sure elsewhere. I remember first meeting her at the activist summit that Kansas Citizens for Science held in 2000 - her presence and guidance then, and at other later times, helped us feel that we were part of something bigger that was worth fighting for. Congratulations, and thanks, Genie.

Wow, yes, congrats to Genie on an enormous success story, and best luck to Ann.

Thanks to Genie Scott for her hard work, and welcome to Ann Reid!


Thanks for the heads up, Jimbo! Is there an actual decision somewhere, or is this it in terms of information?

4 versus 3; close one. is more information on the Freshwater decision. I’m reading it now…

Here’s a tidbit (from the opening section). Looks like they ruled narrowly:

“After detailed review of the voluminous record in this case, we hold that the court of appeals did not err in affirming the termination. The trial court properly found that the record supports, by clear and convincing evidence, Freshwater’s termination for insubordination in failing to comply with orders to remove religious materials from his classroom. Accordingly, based on our resolution of this threshold issue, we need not reach the constitutional issue of whether Freshwater impermissibly imposed his religious beliefs in his classroom. We affirm the judgment of the court of appeals because there was ample evidence of insubordination to justify the termination decision.”

Having browsed it, IMO this is not a great ruling for the mainsteam. Its extremely narrow, they defend Freshwater on some key points, and the one act they do say was insubordinate is going to be a little scary for teachers because it will repress dissent (i.e., teachers will be more scared to symbolically dissent from administrative orders).

So, without further adieu, here’s my “suggestde reading” of the not-so-good stuff from the Freshwater decision.

Page 28:

We begin by considering Principal White’s order for Freshwater to remove his personal Bible from his desk. We conclude that this order was neither reasonable nor valid. The order infringed without justification upon conduct protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

So, while Freshwater was insubordinant, Ohio teachers can continue to keep their own bibles on desks in their classes. Also note that later they say that because Freshwater’s right to have his bible was constitutional, he was not insupordinate for disobeying to remove it.

In this case, we must reject the district’s justification because the inconspicuous presence of Freshwater’s personal Bible posed no threat to the Establishment Clause and the record supports that he did not use the Bible while teaching. A public school violates the Establishment Clause if its actions could reasonably be perceived as an official endorsement of religion…

…The district does not convey a message that it endorses or promotes Christianity by simply allowing Freshwater to keep a personal Bible on his desk.

So a teacher can make it very clear that they are strongly christian and put a bible on their desk to remind you of that, but oh no, this will not at all influence student decisions about what they say in class or how they answer test questions.

I find this really bad. The judges seem not to have considered at all how the students will perceive such gestures; only whether the state employee is technically endorsing religion or not.

But maybe some good news:

HROC concluded that the Bible was not on display; it was neither prominently staged nor placed in a way that would draw any particular attention to it. Other witnesses testified that Freshwater himself never drew any attention to the Bible. Given this unobtrusive, obscured, personal setting, no reasonable observer would assume that the state intended to promote or endorse Freshwater’s Bible.

So, they are not saying that a religious display is legal. Sadly, I think this just leaves wiggle room for arbitrary, exceptional, religious discrimination. I imagine that most bibles will be considered “unobtrusive” while any koran or dawkins book will be considered “obtrusive.”

And here we find the very, very narrow issue on which they decided to rule:

Freshwater’s refusal to remove the other items from his classroom—the Oxford Bible, Jesus of Nazareth, and the George W. Bush/Colin Powell poster—presents a much simpler issue. Freshwater’s First Amendment rights did not protect the display of these items, because they were not a part of his exercise of his religion. Freshwater admitted that he checked out the additional books only in order to make a point once this controversy began. Thus, the district would not run afoul of the Free Exercise Clause by ordering Freshwater to remove these materials; the orders were both reasonable and valid. Freshwater’s willful disobedience of these direct orders demonstrates blatant insubordination. That insubordination is established by clear and convincing evidence, and the record fully supports the board’s decision to terminate him on these grounds.

So, that’s it. OSC says: ‘you can have a bible on your desk. And we’re not going to say anything at all about the legality of creationism. But if you display other books as a form of protest of an official order, you can be fired for it.’ Yuck.

PT managers - please feel free to move my posts to a new FReshwater thread, when it starts…

eric, unfortunately one can’t (easily) move comments from thread to thread. I’ll leave these here with your pointer from my Supreme Court thread.

Oh, and on topic: Many many thanks to Genie for her decades of work, and welcome to Ann. May she have just as many decades!

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on November 18, 2013 8:32 PM.

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