The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘union’

NEA Science Caucus Pushes Back Against Creationism & Pseudoscience

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 27, 2014

Last year I posted about how over the years creationists had actually infiltrated the vendors area at the national meeting (also known as the Representative Assembly or RA) of the National Education Association.  And if you think about it, such a thing is just plain silly; I mean, really, to allow creationists to come in pushing pseudoscience makes about as much sense as allowing, for example, Holocaust deniers to come in pushing pseudo-history.  Where do you draw the line and where are the policies preventing such nonsense from being promoted by a teacher’s organization?!

Well, many NEA members aren’t waiting for the leadership of the organization to act; they’ve decided to push back against this irresponsible promotion of pseudoscience by assembling the NEA Science Caucus.  The NEA Science Caucus is moving ahead by working at the political level within the NEA and by bringing in pro-science groups such as the National Center for Science Education to also have a vendor booth.

I am happy to report that last year’s efforts were quite well-received and successful; it ends up that for years many NEA members were frustrated with seeing creationist propaganda on display in the vendor area, but no one had really organized anything until recently.  But now that the Caucus has gotten started, they’re growing, as is their influence…

NEA Science Caucus

If you’re at the NEA RA this year, look for anyone wearing this ribbon 🙂

If you are an NEA member, and especially if you are attending or know someone who is attending this year’s RA in Denver, please consider getting involved with the NEA Science Caucus.  Specifically, you should check out their Facebook page (or if you aren’t on Facebook, they also have a new website at www.neascience.org) and attempt to contact their organizer, Toby Spencer.  In addition, you can follow them on Twitter @sciencecaucus and they’ll be using the tag #neascience.  If you’re interested in joining the Caucus, you can sign up for membership with the NEA Science Caucus here; at the very least, spread the word to your colleagues.

It is my hope that if we can bring enough political pressure to bear on the NEA, then perhaps they’ll come to their senses and follow in the wise footsteps of the Illinois Federation of Teachers which adopted a resolution in 2010 (See NEA?!  You’re behind the times!) titled “Keep Supernaturalism Out of the Science Curriculum”.  And this Caucus is a good first step in that direction.

I’ll let the Caucus have the last word; from their Facebook page…

Greetings, science lovers! First, thank you for joining the NEA Science Educators Caucus and for participating on this page. It’s been great to learn from your links and to share chuckles with you.

Success! Our money is in the bank and the NCSE: The National Center for Science Education will be hosting a booth for the second year! This time, we have the luxury of three expert speakers, including Dr. Minda Berbeco and the NCSE Director of Religious Community Outreach. They’re generously offering up to three talks on subjects ranging from climate education to evolution/creation to religion and science. We also have much business to discuss this year. Last year we had two great talks. So I ask you: How many talks do you want this year? On which topics?

And please try to connect with and invite other science organizations to affiliate with us and to purchase a vendor table at the NEA Expo. The more the merrier, in educating our membership! We are contacting HHMI, NASA, NSTA and Science NHS. Do you have other contacts? NABT? AAPT? AAAS? Dawkins? Skeptics? Beuller?

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Posted in creationism, education, global warming denial | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Announcing the NEA Science Educators Caucus

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 28, 2013

If you are into public education, you might know that one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation is the National Education Association (NEA).  Every year, the NEA holds what is called a Representative Assembly (RA) in order to discuss internal matters, lobbying issues, and whatnot.

NEAImage source

I was amazed to find out a few years ago that creationists have successfully infiltrated the NEA, because a colleague of mine who was our representative at the RA that year reported to me that creationists had a pretty strong presence in the vendor area of the RA.  *facepalm*

Well, I am happy to announce that there is now an effort among science teachers within the NEA to push back.  The NEA Science Educators Caucus is officially forming this year, and it is hitting the ground running by organizing at this year’s RA in Atlanta.  For more information on them, and to get involved, read the following information from Toby Spencer, co-chair of the group, and consider connecting with them at their Facebook page…

First, thanks for  committing to help improve science education in our union, in our classrooms, and in the legislature!  And thank you for your patience over the past school year, I know many of you are very interested in furthering our goals and spotlighting our most important issues. I’ve waited to email the group until I had good news to share…

AMAZING news, actually!  Colleen Keenan (CA) succeeded in convincing the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) to sponsor an Expo Booth this year in Atlanta!  NCSE will be staffing a booth for two days before the RA sessions begin.  They want our ideas!
Furthermore, we will have two NCSE speakers at our caucus meetings!  Dr. Eugenie Scott, NCSE Executive Director, will address us on July 1st at 4pm in our first caucus meeting.  She will focus on the legalities and politics of evolution.  On the following day, July 2nd, Dr. Minda Berbeco will speak to us about climate change, her area of expertise.
Drs. Scott and Berceco are asking us to give them some direction both for the exhibit booth and their talks.  Could you please reply with your suggestions.  We know evolution/creation brought us together, but we have an opportunity to expand and further our agenda this year.
Speaking of creation (!), we need to write a constitution and bylaws  this year, allowing us to elect officers.  We should create a budget and probably establish a nominal dues structure.  All your input will be appreciated.
I’d like to invite each of you to join our Caucus Facebook Group.  Please find us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/nea.science/.  The facebook page is for any and all things, serious or funny.  Please join and post to the caucus page to say hi or to make suggestions.
 
We’ll likely need volunteers for the NCSE booth and for caucus operations.  Please be thinking about how you can help.  Any bright ideas to spark interest in our cause or in our caucus meetings? 
 
Please try hard to make our caucus meetings on the 1st and 2nd of July.  These are before the RA session days, so we won’t be crunched for time.  I’ll update you with meeting room location(s) when I receive them.  And bring a friend:  we are in membership GROWTH mode.  
 
Again, thank you for your patience and support.  Please send your ideas my way or post them to the facebook page.  I’ll be in touch soon.
And here is more information specifically on the caucus meetings that Toby mentioned…
Hi Everyone! I’m excited about our caucus meetings, NCSE speakers and booth, and membership drive this year. Our room assignments are in: July 1st @ 4-5:30pm in room A405 SectA and July 2 @12-1pm also in A405(A). We’ll have guest speakers from the NCSE both July 1+2. Please come! Then we switch rooms to B309(B) for the four days of the RA–those meeting times are 9-9:30am and at breaks. I’m sure we won’t need to meet every day of the RA, but that’s up to you! I’ll also email this info to the group. And if you’ve read this far…the ribbons are coming this week!
If you are a member of the NEA and you value solid science education in our public schools, please consider getting involved in the Science Educators Caucus.  If defenders of science education don’t stand up, then the creeping influence of creationists will go unchecked, and they will have a disproportionate voice on matters of importance to us.
Once more, here’s their Facebook page.  Look them up and get involved!

Posted in creationism, education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Illinois Federation of Teachers Awesome Resolution on Science vs. Supernaturalism

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 2, 2010

As some of you may know, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in a blog post that the Illinois Federation of Teachers was working to pass a strongly worded resolution on science & creationism. Well, now that I’ve seen the actual text of the adopted resolution, I have to say that it is stronger than I expected (a very good thing indeed!)  I find it worthwhile to point out one section in particular – thanks to RBH over at The Panda’s Thumb for bringing this section to my attention…

WHEREAS, attempts to subvert the validity or teaching of evolutionary theory are also attacks on all scientific inquiry and, therefore, also attacks on the validity of using reason and experimentation to understand the universe;

Wow!  That’s pretty much a right cross straight into the teeth of not only creationists, but pretty much anyone else who wants to push their pseudoscientific, religious or supernatural beliefs as science in Illinois public schools.  Count me as a happy camper 🙂

But there’s more, so without further delay, here is the full text of the adopted resolution:

KEEP SUPERNATURALISM OUT OF THE SCIENCE CURRICULUM

Adopted at the 2010 Illinois Federation of Teachers Convention

WHEREAS, science is a systematic method for investigating natural phenomena through experimentation, observation and measurement leading to falsifiable explanations that are open to continuous testing; and

WHEREAS, science proceeds on the basis of methodological naturalism and assumes observed phenomena of the universe are real, nature is consistent and understandable, and nature is explainable in terms of laws and theories; and

WHEREAS, a scientific theory is consistent with evidence from multiple and independent sources of evidence, explains many different facts and allows predictions of subsequent discoveries; and

WHEREAS, the theory of evolution satisfies these criteria fully, is the foundation of biological science, is supported by a coherent body of integrated evidence from other disciplines in science and is consistent with theories from other scientific disciplines including anthropology, geology, physics, astronomy and chemistry; and

WHEREAS, there have been attempts in some states to include supernaturalism in the science curriculum as an alternative to scientific explanations of nature, particularly as an alternative to evolutionary theory; and

WHEREAS, arguments that invoke supernaturalism are grounded in religious or philosophical considerations outside the realm of science; and

WHEREAS, attempts to subvert the validity or teaching of evolutionary theory are also attacks on all scientific inquiry and, therefore, also attacks on the validity of using reason and experimentation to understand the universe; and

WHEREAS, legislation that conflates supernaturalism, or limits, or prohibits the teaching of any scientific theory negatively impacts our ability to make informed decisions; and

WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the Illinois Federation of Teachers to preserve the integrity of science in the classroom; therefore be it

resolved, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers affirm, through a positional statement on its website, the validity of science as a methodology for understanding the nature of the universe, and affirm the validity and foundational importance of organic evolution to science as a whole and biology, specifically; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, that supernaturalism is not a scientific endeavor and, therefore, is inappropriate for inclusion in the science curriculum; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this resolution does not make it the official position of the IFT that there is no God and should not be interpreted as a statement either for or against religion or belief in God; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT call upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of including non-science subjects (e.g., intelligent design and creationism) in our science curriculum; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT communicate to the local, regional and national public media, to educational authorities and to appropriate legislators its opposition to the inclusion of non-science approaches and subjects (e.g., creationism and intelligent design) into the science education curricula of our public school system; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the IFT members also promote these concerns and help resolve these issues in their home communities among educators, parents, school boards and students in appropriate public forums.

Posted in creationism, education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Pro-Science Resolution for the Illinois Federation of Teachers?

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 15, 2010

**Update: I’ve received word that the IFT resolution was accepted this past weekend!  I will post the full text of the amended resolution once I receive it.

=================

I teach high school & college science in Illinois, and I’m also a member of both teaching unions here – the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association. I’m often proud to be a member of these organizations, though at times my patience is worn rather thin with them.  Specifically, I know some people who are trying very hard to get a resolution passed at the IFT conference this weekend concerning evolution & creationism.

Sadly, in the past the IFT (and, to my knowledge, the IEA as well) has taken no official position on the teaching of science in public schools.  Thus, stupid things happen like creationists are allowed to show up with a booth at IFT/IEA conferences (would they allow, say, Holocaust deniers to push their “alternate view” of history?)

The purpose of the resolution is to get the IFT to finally take a strong, pro-science stand against the pseudoscience & religiously-driven malarkey of creationism which has been pushed for far too long.  It is undoubtedly true that there are IFT members who are creationists, but that isn’t a reason to avoid addressing this issue – the scientific community has spoken, the federal courts have spoken, and now it is time for the IFT and other teachers’ unions to speak & stand up strongly for sound science education in our public schools.

If you are a member of IFT and are a delegate to this weekend’s conference, or you know someone who is, please encourage them to stand up  and speak in support of this resolution when it is presented.  For more information, you make contact Professor Gary Fritz at gnfritz@eiu.edu

The language of the resolution follows:

UPI House of Delegates 2009

Keep non-scientific ideas out of the science curriculum

submitted by

GARY FRITZ, EIU-UPI

WHEREAS, science is a systematic method for investigating natural phenomena through experimentation, observation, and measurement leading to falsifiable explanations that are open to continuous testing; and

WHEREAS, science proceeds on the basis of methodological naturalism and assumes observed phenomena of the universe are real, nature is consistent and understandable, and nature is explainable in terms of laws and theories; and

WHEREAS, a scientific theory is consistent with evidence from multiple and independent sources of evidence, explains many different facts, and allows predictions of subsequent discoveries; and

WHEREAS, the theory of evolution satisfies these criteria fully,  is the foundation of biological science, is supported by a coherent body of integrated evidence from other disciplines in science, and is consistent with theories from other scientific disciplines including anthropology, geology, physics, astronomy, and chemistry; and

WHEREAS, there have been attempts in some states to include non-scientific ideas, such as creationism and intelligent design, in the science curriculum as  alternatives to scientific explanations of nature, particularly as an alternative to evolutionary theory; and

WHEREAS, arguments grounded in religious or philosophical considerations outside the realm of science have been invoked in attempts to subvert the validity or teaching of evolutionary theory.  These attempts are also attacks on all scientific inquiry and, therefore, also attacks on the validity of using reason and experimentation to understand the universe; and

WHEREAS, legislation that incorporates unscientific ideas into the science curriculum, or limits, or prohibits the teaching of any scientific theory, negatively impacts our ability to make informed decisions; and

WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the AFT to preserve the integrity of science in the classroom;

Therefore be it resolved, that the AFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, the validity of science as a methodology for understanding the nature of the universe, and affirm the validity and foundational importance of organic evolution to science as a whole and biology, specifically; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, that ideas such as creationism and intelligent design are not with  in the realm of science and, therefore, are inappropriate for inclusion in the science curriculum; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFT call upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory, and the inappropriateness of  including non-science subjects (e.g.,  intelligent design and creationism) in our science curriculum; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFT communicate to the local, regional, and national public media, to educational authorities, and to appropriate legislators its opposition to the inclusion of non-science approaches and subjects (e.g., creationism and intelligent design) into the science education curricula of our public school system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFT members also promote these concerns and help resolve these issues in their home communities among educators, parents, school boards, and students in appropriate public forums.

Posted in creationism, education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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