Archive for January, 2013

Orlando Sentinel takes notice

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The Orlando Sentinel’s School Zone blog took notice of the voucher-accepting-private-schools-that-teach-creationism mess that I posted about before.

Teaching of creationism at voucher schools raises alarm (again), as taxpayer money supports Bible-based lessons

The end of the post notes:

Of course, this is not a new issue, as colleague Dave Weber noted the issue in stories here and here about the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program. That program pays for poor children to attend private schools, many of which are religious.

State officials have argued that with that program, the state isn’t directly paying for the religious education. They say that because the scholarship program is funded by corporate donations that companies give in exchange for state tax credits, not by a direct payout from the state treasury.

My opinion is that true, it’s not right out of the state treasury, but that particular scholarship program is just a way to game the system so that voucher supporters can point at the state treasury and say “see, the money isn’t coming from there” in an effort to distract people from seeing the money slipping out through the trap door under the carpet. The corporations get tax credits. Isn’t that tax money that would have gone into the state treasury if not for the program? If I’m wrong, then please correct me, and I mean that sincerely. Am I missing something?

And let’s not let talk of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship distract us from remembering that there is another voucher program in the state, the McKay Scholarship program. You’ll find the creationist private schools on its qualified list.

The Revisionaries is now online

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The shortened PBS version of The Revisionaries is now available for online viewing, but only for a limited time. So, don’t put off watching it.

The Revisionaries on PBS

Monday, January 28th, 2013

A shortened version of the movie The Revisionaries will be shown on PBS tonight Monday 28th January at 10pm Eastern Time. This movis is a ‘must see’ documentary about the attempts of the Texas Board of Education to inject Creationism into the schools science standards. This could happen in our state, that’s why it’s so very important that we at FCS remain ever vigilant.

[edit by Brandon: just wanted to add a quick link to the PBS site on the movie.]

Darwin Day stuff

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

I haven’t found very much about Darwin Day in Florida yet, but here is what I know about. If you have an event I missed, mention it in the comments.

Tampa Bay United Coalition of Reason presents: Darwin’s Gift, Science brings New Hope For Humanity
Saturday, February 9th 2013, at 10 AM
Event cost: $15. (includes Lunch)
At Clearwater Unitarian Universalist Octagon, 2470 Nursery Road, Clearwater, FL 33764
Hear Sean Faircloth of the Dawkins Institute; Jim Strayer, noted Biologist; and Ryan Craygun Ph.D., Anthropologist – UT.
Phone (727) 733-7855 for tickets
Pre-registration required. Recommended for adults; suitable for children 10 up

Darwin Day seminar
(also see this link)
Thursday, Feb 14 3:30p to 4:30p, USF Marshall Student Center Room 2100A Tampa, FL
As part of USF’s annual Darwin Day celebration of Charles Darwin’s birthday, the Department of Integrative Biology and Biology Graduate Student Organization are hosting Dr. Lee Dugatkin from the University of Louisville. His talk is titled, “Darwin, genes and culture: mate choice in guppies and humans.”

Humanists of Sarasota Bay
Feb 16, 2013, Café Baci, 4001 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL. Sign in will begin at 11:30 AM followed by a three course lunch with an entre of your choice. The cost per person for the entire event will be $21.25 which includes meal, tax and gratuity. We will be accepting payment at the door with reservations. Seating is open.
This year we will be welcoming John Stinespring, Ph.D, Associate Professor Emeritus, who will speak to us on the topic of “The Socio-Political Implications of Recent Human Evolution.”
Reservations are necessary so please contact Sandie Zellick (sandie34293@comcast.net ) or Judy Helgager (JLHelgager@comcast.net) to reserve. At that time you will be asked to submit your lunch choice…vegetarian, chicken or fish (flounder).
The deadline for submitting reservations is Feb. 12, 2013.

Give a mouse a cookie …

Friday, January 18th, 2013

We’ve been watching the saga in Orange County of the distribution of bibles to students in schools with interest, but haven’t commented because our mission doesn’t really fit here. But now the situation is crossing into our science territory. Give a mouse a cookie and he’ll want

Rutherford, who grew up and attended public schools in Orange County, said he’d like to see schools incorporate bible verses and religious teaching in schools as well as offering Creationism as a competing theory to evolution.

Folks, it’s time to pay special attention to World Changers of Florida and their president Jerry Rutherford.

310 and counting

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

19-year-old student Zack Kopplin is awesome! I hadn’t realized it, but he’s the guy behind the research into creationist voucher schools I posted about yesterday. Here’s an article he wrote on the subject: Creationism spreading in schools, thanks to vouchers

So far, I have documented 310 schools, in nine states and the District of Columbia that are teaching creationism, and receiving tens of millions of dollars in public money through school voucher programs.

There is no doubt that there are hundreds more creationist voucher schools that have yet to be identified. The more than 300 schools I have already found are those that have publicly stated on their websites that they teach creationism or use creationist curricula.

Science Cafes get some attention

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

There are several science cafes here in Florida that have been operating for years. But the media appears to just now be catching on. The Orlando Sentinel has an article on them online this morning: Eat, drink and learn in leisure at area ‘Science Cafes’

“They come once a month to hear researchers talk about topics such as lasers and marine ecology at a tapas restaurant in College Park. Astrology and embalming at a coffee shop in Daytona Beach. The mystery of time in a Tallahassee saloon. And dinosaurs at a pizza place in Viera.”

 

Creationist Voucher Schools

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

School vouchers (or as some call it, school choice). The simplest definition for vouchers is that the state government helps pay for a student’s education at a private school. Of course, there are nuances to the programs, but that’s the gist of it. Your tax dollars and mine are paying for a child to attend a private school. I’ve addressed my concerns about school vouchers before here and here. I’ve always wanted to research what is going on in the science classrooms of those private schools and I even started that investigations several months ago. But it’s a time consuming task that I could never get far enough into. So, I’m very happy to see that someone else took on the challenge! A website called Say No to Creationist Vouchers lists schools that use questionable (and that’s a charitable word) curriculum and materials in the science classroom or blatantly teach anti-science. The site identifies and links to 163 voucher accepting public schools in Florida that use creationist materials or boldly state that they teach anti-science.

Take a look at what the Calvary Christian Academy in Ft. Lauderdale has to say about their AP Biology course (page 30 of the High School Course Guide pdf):

This advanced placement college course prepares students to have faith in Jesus in an age of science by evaluating college-level biology, chemistry, and physics from a purely biblical perspective. Students will examine the underlying scientific observations and findings in light of both the naturalistic and Christian worldviews. Students will develop a reasonable understanding and defense of their faith in light of contemporary scientific discoveries.

Here’s what Highlands Christian Academy in Deerfield Beach says (page 6 of the student handbook pdf):

We believe in creation, not evolution; that man was created by the direct act of God and in the image of God.

The Master’s Academy in Oviedo says in their Course Offerings and Description Guide (page 8 of the pdf):

All scientific concepts are taught from a distinctively Christian perspective, based primarily on the Genesis account of creation.

I think you get the idea. My sincere thanks to Say No to Creationist Vouchers for doing all of this digging. This research leaves us with an important question: do we want our tax dollars going to these private schools’ anti-science?