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AAS ACTION ALERT 2003-04

Take Action by: August 26, 2003


SUMMARY

AAS members in New Mexico are encouraged to contact the state board of education in support of the about to be approved science curriculum.


BACKGROUND
Over the past year, the New Mexico Department of Education used writing teams to draft new science standards for public schools. Using an open process, the teams developed a set of
standards that endorses biological evolution as a pillar of scientific knowledge. The board is scheduled to vote to approve or
amend the draft standards August 27-29 in Santa Fe.


In a last ditch effort to modify the standards and include creationism and "intelligent design" as valid alternatives to evolution, the New Mexico division of the Intelligent Design movement (based in Kansas) has submitted alternative standards to the board for consideration.

Additionally, the ID group sponsored a survey undertaken by a well-known and reliable polling company to attempt to show support for the alternative standards. However, the poll results are being mis-represented by the ID group according to recent
media reports and statistical experts at the American Institute of Physics.


ACTION REQUESTED

New Mexico AAS members are requested to send a letter to the board of education requesting that the standards be accepted only if they do not contain any reference to intelligent design or creation science. The draft standards, as submitted by the expert writing panels should be the standards adopted by the board.

Pinky Nelson
Astronomy Education Board Chair

Susana Deustua
Director of Educational Activities

Kevin B. Marvel
Deputy Executive Officer

Websites related to the issue:

New Mexico Department of Education:
www.sde.state.nm.us

The National Center for Science Education:
www.ncseweb.org

The New Mexico Division of the Intelligent
Design Network: www.nmidnet.org

 

SAMPLE LETTER

Today’s Date

Stahrs R. Twinklin
Center of the Universe, NM

Dear New Mexico State Board of Education member

I write to express my support for the New Mexico Board of Education’s use of peer reviewed mainstream science and pedagogical expertise to develop the revised science standards.

I understand that the New Mexico Department of Education has followed this process to develop these standards, which have been reviewed by qualified and respected New Mexico science teachers, scientists, and university professors. I believe this process leads to strong standards of the highest quality, accuracy and pedagogical appropriateness.

I have become aware that an institution known for promoting the inclusion of religious doctrine in science curricula is questioning these standards. I believe that religious doctrine –in any guise– does not belong in science classrooms.

You may have received a letter from the Intelligent Design Network of New Mexico citing the results of a Zogby poll that purports to show that New Mexico scientists from the national laboratories and universities support the teaching of intelligent design in science classes. I have serious reservations as to the reliability and validity of these alleged findings.

The Intelligent Design Network's study cites an extremely low response rate of 1.5 percent. Statisticians generally agree that reliable polls have at least a 40 percent response rate. Furthermore, the Intelligent Design Network's release accounts for only a fraction of the total respondents: 248 of the 402 that the polling company received. The release provides no reason for leaving out the responses of the other 154 replies. I also have serious doubts about the design of the questions and believe that the questions were framed to solicit pre-conceived answers supporting intelligent design doctrine. The Intelligent Design Network also admits that the results have no statistical validity.

I urge you to continue supporting high science standards in New Mexico science curricula and not to be swayed by unreliable information. Your diligence will ensure that the students of New Mexico will be better equipped for higher education and the workplace.

Very Truly Yours,

Stahrs R. Twinklin
My position
My place of work, NM

_______________________________________

To read previous AAS Informational Emails visit www.aas.org/policy/InformationalEmails.html
To read previous AAS Action Alerts visit www.aas.org/policy/ActionAlerts.html
Comments and questions to: mailto:marvel@aas.org
Changes of address to: mailto:address@aas.org

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