National Center for Science Education, Role in Promoting Race Equity


Two of my favourite people in the world, Ann Reid and Kenneth R. Miller/Ken Miller/Kenneth Miller, have issued a statement on behalf of the National Center for Science Education. Ann Reid is the Executive Director and Kenneth Miller is the Board Chair. Both have been doing, and are part of, a noble tradition for the proper education of the public on matters of science.

As the late and beloved Dr. Carl Sagan noted, we live in a world built on science and technology, where the discoveries of science build the frameworks for comprehension of the natural world from which the engineering and technology can emerge in the first place. Technology is science applied for some purpose or function, typically relevant to a human need or want – for frivolity or necessity.

The note from Reid and Miller opened:

Today, in all corners of our nation, attention has been focused on a long-standing problem that pervades all of American society, including its educational and scientific institutions — the problem of embedded, structural racism. Our nation is gripped by protests against the latest in a long and shameful history of incidents of racist violence against black Americans. We grieve with our fellow citizens who have had to live with fear, oppression, and injustice for centuries. All of us at NCSE are inspired by the tens of thousands of Americans putting their bodies at risk to raise their voices in protest.

I am inspired by the level of solidarity expressed by several organizations on the educational front with a forthright statement as to the facts of the matter and the expression of the core issue in a cogent presentation. The purpose of the National Center for Science Education is the provision of real education and information on the sciences to the public. Indeed, one of the main areas of emphasis has been the evolution versus creationism sociopolitical, not educational, controversy over the development of life.

“The overriding goal of the National Center for Science Education is to ensure that every student in every American school has access to an effective, accurate, and inspiring education in the sciences. Many obstacles have stood in the way of this goal,” Reid and Miller said, “including unreasoning and doctrinaire opposition to the findings of many branches of science. Throughout its history, NCSE has fought to remove these obstacles and ensure that all students learn to think critically about evidence and reject flawed and misleading arguments.”

As has been said in many contexts by others and myself, and not original to me, but to the scientists and the science educators, previous eras of science support the idea of race while modern science advanced to state “racism is based on a lie — the lie that there are meaningful biological differences among humans that correspond to the color of our skin. While we acknowledge that there are real biological consequences to the lived experience of race, evolution reminds us that the genetic variation within groups we designate as races is significantly larger than the variation between those groups. Evolution tells us that we are 99.9% the same at the level or our DNA.”

In short, the proper framing of a lot of the issues facing us: species. We are an evolved product of a naturalistic process and a natural universe. Science has been used, at times, for divisive purposes. However, the full arsenal of science would seem to support a more unifying framework to plug modern human rights notions into them. In that, we can build a more equitable and just society as we deem fit rather than not – and one of the bases for this is the modern theory of evolution and, therefore, the work of the National Center for Science Education, as they conclude:

Science education can be a force for good; for unifying rather than dividing. Towards that end, we at NCSE resolve to support educational and scientific professionals fighting racism and educational inequality at every level of our society. Specifically, we commit to expanding our efforts to provide science teachers with the resources and learning opportunities needed to help their students dismantle misconceptions about race. Our common future depends upon it.

Photo by Arthur Lambillotte on Unsplash

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