Sorry. No funny hats, no crepe streamers, and no cake today. Instead, I’m talking about political parties, in particular state political parties in the United States. And I’m prompted by the news that the Alaska Republican Party recently revised its platform. According to Alaska Public Media (May 4, 2014), at its recent meeting, the party “condensed the Alaska Republican platform. Sections on education and crime were streamlined, and specific provisions on school vouchers, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide, and the teaching of creation science were removed.” Removing support for the teaching of creation science in Alaska’s public schools from a party platform is just a wee bit overdue, twenty-seven years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) that teaching creation science in the public schools is unconstitutional, but welcome nevertheless. Good job, Alaska Republicans.
The news reminded me that I haven’t recently skimmed through the platforms of the various state political parties to see what, if anything, they say about attacks on science education. It seems like a good time to revisit the issue, since the last time I conducted such a review was eight years ago. In 2004, I located seven state political parties with antievolution planks in their platforms: the Republican parties of Alaska, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas; in 2006, when Liza Gross wrote in a PLoS Biology article that “[i]n the 1990s, the state Republican platforms in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Missouri, and Texas all included demands for teaching creation science,” I commented, “NCSE is currently aware of eight state Republican parties that have antievolutionism embedded in their official platforms or policies those of Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas.”
Not all of those called for creation science as such, I added: “Five of them—those of Alaska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas—call for teaching forms of creationism in addition to evolution; the remaining three call only for referring the decision whether to teach such ‘alternatives’ to local school districts.” That’s accurate as far as it goes, but there’s actually a lot of diversity in the platforms, which called variously for: