​The Two Organizations Trying to Destroy U.S. Science Education

The Heartland Institute, a prominent, Chicago-based organization opposing climate science, has teamed up with the creationist Discovery Institute to launch a smear campaign against a group promoting the nationwide adoption of updated science education guidelines.

The guidelines in question are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), adopted so far by 11 states and the District of Columbia. The National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science—working with 26 state governments—developed the NGSS to update K-12 science education in schools for the first time since 1998.

But, because the NGSS includes material on evolution and how humans are causing climate change, it has faced opposition in some states. Most recently, the Wyoming legislature became the first in the U.S. to reject the NGSS. Lessons on climate change, lawmakers said, would brainwash kids against the state's coal and oil industries.

The non-profit National Center for Science Education (NCSE)—whose members include thousands of teachers and scientists—provides information and advice to defend quality science education at local, state, and national levels. And its advocacy on behalf of the NGSS has made it a target for both young-earth creationists and climate change deniers.

And thus, a partnership is blossoming. Yesterday, the main article on the Heartland Institute website is written by the Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin, whose ignorance of science is the stuff of legends.

His article is the first in a two-part column on "how the National Center for Science Education is targeting the nation's schools to enforce a mythical consensus on global warming alarmism."

The column trots out the popular young-earth creationist tropes, such as claims of censorship:

Critics believe that, by seeking to put a lid on scientific controversies, NCSE actually serves as an impediment to science education—such that many school systems and individual teachers refrain from teaching about the topics extensively, or avoid the topics entirely, in order to avoid the wrath of "consensus" enforcers. As a result, the nation's schoolchildren learn neither the facts underlying the theories and counter-theories, nor the reasoning processes by which real science separates fact from fiction….NCSE has attempted not to promote good science education but to censor views with which it disagrees.

And, Luskin characterizes this as "propagandizing kids," comparing the new education standards to racist beliefs:

Indoctrination in the schools is nothing new. During the lead-up to Prohibition, supporters of a ban on alcoholic beverages planted propaganda in textbooks declaring that drinking alcohol could cause a person to combust spontaneously in blue flame. In the Scopes "monkey trial" of 1925, the American Civil Liberties Union defended the use in a classroom of the book A Civic Biology, which taught evolution but also white supremacy and eugenics (the alleged need to eliminate "parasitic" people from the population). In 1957, at a key point in the Civil Rights movement, the textbook Alabama History for Schools declared that slavery had been beneficial, "the earliest form of social security."

And, he explains, the National Center for Science Education is part of an elitist, scientific cabal:

NCSE is the beneficiary of grassroots activism on the part of scientists, educators, and others who support its mission. But much of its support comes from powerful groups that are pillars of the political establishment and the scientific-technological elite. (President Eisenhower, in his farewell address, warned of the danger "that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.")

Indeed, NCSE has been collaboratively envisioned, created, and supported financially by elite establishment groups, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Science Foundation, and many other national educational and scientific (or scientist-activist) organizations.

All of this is in keeping with the long-term strategy of the Heartland Institute. Two years ago, leaked documents revealed its plans to promote a science curriculum for schools that would raise doubts about human-caused climate change. They even discussed strategies for "dissuading teachers from teaching science." I'll be looking forward to seeing what Luskin has to say in the second part of his column.

[H/T Panda's Thumb]