Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, Inc. is a non-profit educational organization that promotes the education of the public about the methods and values of science and advocates excellence in the science curriculum. Activities include participation in educational and scientific organization conferences, workshops for science teachers, operation of a speakers' bureau, and related activities.
The formation of OESE was prompted by the attempts in the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee in 1999 to diminish the teaching of evolution by the introduction of creationist textbook disclaimers to be inserted into any textbook used in public schools that discussed evolution. There have been bills introduced almost every year since 1999 for legislation that would allow teaching creationism in science courses; OESE has opposed all such attempts.
OESE is seeking members. Memberships are available for $10. Please print and fill out the OESE membership application and mail to the address indicated on the form. Tax-deductable donations are also welcomed. Further info in the OESE brochure.
Recognizing the increased attention climate change education has received in recent years, OESE has added an emphasis on the support of the teaching of climate science in public schools. To that end, we have added links to climate change and climate change denial sites. Many of the recent bills that have attacked the teaching of evolution in the public schools have also included attacks on climate science. We have also added a section on climate and earth science on our teaching resources page.
Anti-science bills in 2014 Oklahoma Legislature
Last year's HB1674, the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act by Blackwell and Kern, which passed the Common Education Committee by a vote of 9-8 last year but was not heard on the House Floor, was added to this year's House Floor agenda on February 18. Representative Blackwell has filed two floor amendments to the bill. One updates the year that the bill would take affect, and the other removes the specific mention of controversial subjects (evolution, climate change, etc.) in the bill. This follows the tactics used by Senator Brecheen (who is Senate sponsor of the bill) for his SB 1765 in that the bills are getting shorter and more obscure as to what the bill is really about. The bill has not yet been heard on the House Floor.
See last year's analysis of the bill for more information. Commentary against the bill is available from the NCSE and from Okie Funk.
Action Alert: As expected the bill passed on the House floor on 3 March by a vote of 79-6. This creationist bill is very similar to those introduced in the past — all were stopped. The bill would place religion into science courses, is unconstitutional, and would harm the recruitment of scientists and science-based industry to Oklahoma.
The bill will likely be sent to the Senate Education Committee. We do not know when the bill might appear on the Senate Education Committee's agenda. It could happen at any time. Please contact the members (listed below) and urge them to oppose the bill. You can write, call, send emails, or visit in person. Send messages to ALL those listed. You do not have to be a constituent to send messages. Every message helps because NUMBERS DO COUNT. The message may be fairly short, even if legislators do not read them, they do tally them. Large numbers of opposing messages in the past have worked! Address letters to ALL individual members at:
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Here is the contact info for the committee:
Name, Room #, Phone, Email
John Ford, 424A, 521-5634, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Stanislawski, 427A, 521-5624, email@example.com
Earl Garrison, 528A, 521-5533, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Halligan, 425, 521-5572, email@example.com
David Holt, 411A, 521-5636, firstname.lastname@example.org
Clark Jolley, 519, 521-5622, email@example.com
Susan Paddack, 533B, 521-5541, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wayne Shaw, 513A, 521-5574, email@example.com
Ralph Shortey, 514A, 521-5557, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Sparks, 529B, 521-5553, email@example.com
Ron Sharp, 533, 521-5539, firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also asking you to voice your opposition to HB1674 to the Senate leadership. Here is the contact information:
Sen. Brian Bingman, Senate Pro-Tem email@example.com
Sen. Mike Shulz, Floor Leader firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Cliff Branan, Asst. Floor Leader email@example.com
Senator Josh Brecheen has introduced SB 1765, the "Oklahoma Science Education Act". The bill is almost identical to last year's SB 758 encouraging teachers to find effective ways to present
the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies. Unlike last year, there is no list of these scientific controversies, but all the code words of creationist legislation are included. Brecheen's SB 758 died in committee last year. Analysis of the bill by OESE's Richard Broughton can be found here. Further information is available at the NCSE web site and Okie Funk.
The American Institute of Biological Sciences has sent a letter in opposition to SB1765 to all members of the Senate Education Committee, as did the National Association of Biology Teachers. More coverage from the NCSE.
The bill was not heard in the Senate Education Committee before the February 24 deadline for bills to be heard in committee. The bill is currently marked as dormant. Thanks to all who voiced opposition to the bill to the committee. Numbers do count.
Second Annual Oklahoma Evolution Road Trip
The Second Annual Oklahoma Evolution Road Trip will be held April 26-27, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
See updated details in the preliminary announcement.
Congratulations to OESE board members
Two OESE board members were honored at the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (OSTA) Awards Recognition reception on Friday, November 1st at the OERB offices near downtown Oklahoma City. Dr. Julie Angle was named OSTA's Outstanding College/University Science Teacher and Deborah Hill was received her award as Oklahoma Science Teacher of the Year from the National Association of Biology Teachers.
In addition, Bethany Lorenz was elected President-elect of the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association and Deborah Hill was elected High School Director for OSTA.
Workshop for Teachers: Science of Climate Change and Variability
Weekend workshop (Sept. 20-22, 2013) at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station on Lake Texoma
Topics include current climate science, inquiry-based learning, state curriculum and classroom issues
Workshop organized and sponsored by: Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, National Science Foundation, and The University of Oklahoma Biological Station
Dr. Stan Rice, president-elect of OESE, live-blogged from the workshop:
Thank you, DELTA Foundation
We are pleased to announce that the DELTA Foundation has again granted OESE $ 16,339 for two years (2014, 2015) of teacher workshops on climate change and variability to be offered over a weekend at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station. Earlier support from this family foundation was very important in allowing OESE to offer workshops for science teachers and helped make them highly successful. The Board of Governors of OESE expresses our gratitude for this important support that will help advance science education of high school teachers.
The workshop this fall on Climate Change and Variability at the Biological Station attracted many applicants. To accommodate the demand the original limit of 30 was increased to about 38. The workshop this year is supported by an NSF grant to Dr. Cecil Lewis, an OU anthropologist. This is the last year of the NSF grant support. Thus the DELTA grant allows a continuation of the workshops.
EVOLUTION IN OKLAHOMA AND TEXAS: A ROAD TRIP.
Thursday May 30 thru Sunday June 2, 2013
By all accounts, the road trip was a big success. Dr. Rice reported on the road trip at his blog:
Part One, The World of the Past
Part Two, The World of the Past, continued
Part Three, Dinosaurs and the Humans Who Are Still Looking for Them
Part Four, Dinosaur Tracks
Part Five, Final Discussions
The MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins: the Belief Gap
We present a detailed survey of how different US faith communities view origins science, particularly evolution and Big Bang cosmology. We find a striking gap between people's personal beliefs and the official views of the faiths to which they belong. Whereas Gallup reports that 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago, we find that only 11% belong to religions openly rejecting evolution. This shows that the main divide in the origins debate is not between science and religion, but between a small fundamentalist minority and mainstream religious communities who embrace science. The fact that the gap between personal and official beliefs is so large suggests that part of the controversy might be defused by people learning more about their own religious doctrine and the science it endorses, thereby bridging this belief gap.
OU Religious Studies Journal article
Nolan Kraszkiewicz, an OU senior, has published a paper that examines the history and implications of the Creationism/Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate raging in America's schools, courts, and churches. Link to the paper is here.
Video of Judge Jones talk in Norman
The video of the talk at the OU Law School on December 6 in Norman by Judge John E. Jones III, on "The U.S. Constitution's Intelligent Design" is available from the Maiinstream Baptist.
Darwin interviews Dr. Victor Hutchison
Board member Dr. Stanley Rice has added an interview with Dr. Victor Hutchison to his YouTube channel, http://youtu.be/IW2MRpkyVEM discussing evolution in Oklahoma. Dr. Rice's channel can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/stanEvolve.
Bethany Lorenz named Outstanding Biology Teacher for Oklahoma
OESE congratulates Board member Bethany Lorenz, the 2012 recipient of the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for Oklahoma from the National Association of Biology Teachers. The award is given each year to a life science teacher in each state who demonstrates exemplary practice in the teaching of life science. Lorenz has been a biology teacher at Putnam North High School since 2001. She teaches sereral inclusion classes in which special education students are mainstreamed, and uses judicious groups of students to implement peer tutoring and leadership. Lorenz said "I believe that all students can learn. They may learn at different rates, but they all have the capacity to learn." Congratulations Bethany! More information at the Oklahoma Science Teachers Assocation web site.
Darwin videos on YouTube
Dr. Stan Rice, faculty member at Southeastern Oklahoma State and a Board member of OESE is producing a series of YouTube videos where he portrays Darwin on various topics.
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL OESE TEACHERS WORKSHOP
OESE held its first workshop for high school teachers on teaching climate change at the University Biological Station on Lake Texoma, 20-22 September, 2013. A good time was had by all.
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Clergy Letter Project: All clergy members are encouraged to go to this link to sign the nationwide outpouring of support for teaching evolution. For too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and conflict concerning the teaching of evolution. The project is also described at the link.
OESE Joins Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science.
Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE) has joined the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), organized coordinate efforts to improve public outreach and science education. COPUS is a grassroots effort that builds connections that support a better understanding of the nature of science and its value to society. COPUS is built around three values: community, celebration, and promotion.
We are passionate people promoting good science. By working together as a community, we can build on the cumulative energies, strengths, and perspectives of our members.
Celebrations provide opportunities to reflect on the positive contributions of science to society - besides, science is fun and well worth celebrating!
Science needs good promotion. COPUS facilitates dialogue and shares resources through meaningful person-to-person interactions, making it easier to learn about how science works and why it matters to society.