"Creationism's evolving strategy"

Writing in the January 2011 issue of Americans United for Separation of Church and State's journal Church & State, Sandhya Bathija reviewed the developments in the creationism/evolution controversy since the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. Warning, in the words of her subtitle, "Five years after a landmark court ruling against 'intelligent design,' evolution opponents are still on the prowl," she allowed that there's good news to accompany the bad news: "it's clear the decision gave the science community new momentum to ramp up instruction on evolution."

"After the large amount of publicity from Dover," NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott explained, "the science community is much more attuned to why individual scientists as well as their representative science societies have to take an interest in these local education issues." The article quoted confirmation from Education Week, which recently reported (November 17, 2010), "the ruling ignited an unprecedented push by scientists and education researchers to become more directly involved in integrating evolution in science classes."

Among the efforts cited by both Bathija and Education Week were Evolution Readiness, a project of the Concord Consortium and Boston College aimed at producing curricula for introducing evolution in the elementary grades; the Evolution Education Research Center, founded by Brian Alters (vice president of NCSE's board of directors) and with participants at Harvard University, McGill University, and now Chapman University; and the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach, edited by Niles Eldredge (a Supporter of NCSE) and Gregory Eldredge.

Citing Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer's Evolution, Creationism and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms (Cambridge University Press, 2010), however, Bathija explained that creationists have regrouped, modifying their tactics and trying again. Richard Katskee, a former attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church and State who helped to represent the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller, commented, "The Kitzmiller court exposed intelligent design as what it is — dressed-up creationism — so the Discovery Institute had to go back to the drawing board."

After reviewing various episodes in the renewed creationist campaign, such as the advent of "academic freedom" antievolution bills, the 2008-2009 debate over the treatment of evolution in Texas's state science standards, and the recent assault on evolution in textbooks in Louisiana, Bathija summarized, "Texas and Louisiana will continue to remain on the watch list for civil liberties groups and the scientific community." So will the new Congress, she added: "John Boehner (R-Ohio), incoming speaker of the House of Representatives, has supported teaching creationism in public schools," referring to his misuse of the so-called Santorum Amendment.

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