Weekly update – 16 Feb

Most importantly, please take a minute to sign our petition against Iowa HF183, the “Academic Freedom Act”, which attempts to bring religion into science classroom. The petition was written by Dr. Avalos. Please ask your friends and colleagues to consider signing. If you want to do more about it, consider ISU Ambassadors Student Day at the Capitol on Monday 6 April 2009. Students from around Iowa will meet at the Capitol to encourage the Iowa General Assembly’s support on education issues, and this certainly counts as an education issue. Email isuaas if you are interested in representing AAS, and I will send the names along to ISU Ambassadors. This would be a great resume builder.

AAS does not have a meeting this week, but there are plenty of interesting events going on, including the Campus Crusade for Christ event “Jesus Without Religion”. See our Google calendar for more details. As always, if you hear of an event that may be of interest to AAS members, send it to isuaas and it will be posted on the calendar. We are also always looking for guest posts on the AAS blog, including summaries of events.

Tentatively, the topic for next week is Biological Determinism. We need a volunteer or two to find a good article about this topic and summarize it for us at the beginning of the meeting.

Our t-shirts have arrived. I have them in my lab G418 Agronomy Hall, just email isuaas if you would like to pick one up. We have a few extras in each size. If you didn’t order one, they are 1st come, 1st served. Shirts are $15.

An opportunity to have fun and help kids get interested in science (instead of superstition?) can be found at at the 2009 State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa on March 27th and 28th. They really need more judges. I was there last year and had such a blast talking to the kids about science that I’m going again. Sign up to volunteer here, view the schedule for the Fair here. Pass this message along to anyone who might be interested. If you have questions, email Vicki Speake.

We’re planning to run a series of ads in the daily during Free Speech Week/VIESHEA, sort of like the atheist bus ads that have popped up all over the world. So, we need some great quotes or phrases for the ads. Submit your ideas at this Google Form.

Opposition to HF183

Important message from Brian J. Sabel, executive director of the Iowa Secularists:

This week we mark the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, the man who profoundly influenced our understanding of evolution. Exciting celebrations all over the state of Iowa are commemorating this great man and his incredible discoveries. However, the enemies of reason are trying to rain on our parade. Last week, Rod A. Roberts (R-Carroll, Dist. 51) introduced House File 183, the euphemistically-named “Evolution Academic Freedom Act” [full text and current status available at the Iowa General Assembly Bill Book]. This bill, based largely on language by the Discovery Institute (famous for their Wedge Strategy of introducing Intelligent Design into science curricula) is the latest volley in the anti-science agenda of the Religious Right. We cannot tolerate such legislation in a state which prides itself in the quality of our public education system.

Today, I filed on behalf of the Iowa Secularists an official lobbyist declaration of opposition to this bill. We are joined by other powerful advocacy groups in the State of Iowa which oppose the introduction of religion into our public school science curricula. I encourage you to contact your Representative, especially those on the Education Committee, to encourage them not only to oppose this bill, but also to oppose introduction of legislation such as this. Not only does it offend the rights of all Iowans, it sends the wrong message to potential employers about the condition of public education in our great state. You can find contact information for your Representative [at the Iowa General Assembly site].

Please take action today to send a strong message to our Legislators that not only is House File 183 bad for the religious freedom of all Iowans, its mere introduction casts a bad light on our public education system. When you contact your Legislators, please let us know what action you’ve taken [contact at iowasecularists dot org] so we can keep track of which Legislators get the message!