News Archive

Congratulations to the 2009-2010 ACA Board elected on May 3, 2009. Matt Dillahunty will keep his role as President. Jen Peeples will be the new ACA Vice President. The seven at-large board seats will be filled by Don Baker, Shilling Cadena, John Iacoletti, Lisa Mais, Shelley Roberts, Don Rhoades, and Joe Roades. 

Offices of Treasurer and Secretary were filled at the May 10, 2009 ACA board meeting. John Iacoletti will be Treasurer and Don Baker will serve again as Secretary.

ACA will have its board elections on May 3rd, 2009 starting at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The meeting will be in lieu of a lecture. The building opens at noon. You must be a currently paid member to vote in the election. Help save time at the election meeting by renewing your membership early. The renewal form appears in the last newsletter, or log in to the ACA web site and renew online. We encourage all members to participate in the election. We will have coffee and donuts at the meeting. 

If you are interested in running for the board, please contact the secretary and let him know of your intentions. The February 2008 issue of the Austin Atheist had an article about what the officers and board member responsibilities are. Consult that issue or a current board member for more information. 

Texas state law requires non profit organizations to make their membership list available to members a reasonable time prior to an election. This notice serves as the official announcement of the list’s availability. ACA Treasurer Mike Swift has a list of current members for inspection by current members. The list may be viewed by appointment. Contact him here or in person at an ACA meeting.

As part of our charity outreach, the ACA will collecting canned food and other non-perishables for the Capitol Area Food Bank at ACA meetings and events. Members can bring these items to ACA events including the Solstice party on January 2nd. Give the items to an ACA board member. We intend to continue this effort throughout the year. 

In addition to collection at ACA events, Mike and Lisa have volunteered their homes as food collection points. Log into the ACA web site for their contact information. 

We welcome any suggestions or ideas for future charity efforts and of course welcome volunteers to help move this effort forward.

This year's ACA Winter Solstice Party will be on Saturday, December 20, 2008 Friday, January 2nd, 2009 from 7pm - 1am at Mike's house. Thanks to Mike for his hospitality! 

The party is for ACA members, their spouses, and atheist-friendly friends. RSVPs are encouraged so that Mike can gauge the size of the event. (Send him e-mail via this link). Also, e-mail him if you'd like to volunteer to help set up. 

The early part of the evening will be a potluck dinner. Bring a dish to share, should you wish to participate. If you can, let Mike know what you plan to bring so that he can ensure a breadth of dishes. Mike will provide snacks and beer for the later crowd. 

Mike has a game room, arcade machine, and pool table. 

Mike's address, a map to his house, and his phone number are now available on the ACA member log-in page. Details will be posted later on the aca_membersonly list. 

Come and celebrate the new year!

The Texas State Board of Education is reviewing its high school science curriculum standards this year. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)are the embodiment of those standards. These standards are important because they have a profound influence on how science is taught in Texas, including impacting textbook content. Because many other states adopt Texas standards and textbooks, TEKS can have a big impact across the country for a number of years. The stakes are high. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that concerned citizens can participate in the review process. 

draft of the TEKS was released on September 22nd and I have reviewed the Biology TEKS. Although I’m not a biologist, I certainly am familiar with how the creationist culture warriors might try to sabotage the standard. While all science TEKS have the suspect phrase, "Science may not answer all questions," the standard looks pretty good with respect to evolution. There is no taint of the old "strengths and weaknesses" wording that they had slipped in in the past, opening the door for casting doubt on evolution and thus leaving the door ajar for “intelligent Design” pseudoscience that is just religion in a lab coat. 

Unfortunately, the SBOE has been stacked with creationist members with a not-so-hidden agenda of sabotaging the teaching of evolution. More recently, the SBOE has appointed a creationist-friendly review committee to review the science TEKS. It’s not clear what mischief will come of these developments, but many science advocates are concerned and watching. 

A number of groups have gotten involved by drafting reports, crating petitions, and marshaling concerned citizens. The National Center for Science Education is monitoring these culture war skirmishes from across the nation. The 21st Century Science Coalition is a group of scientists who have weighed in with a petition to the SBOE. The Texas Citizens for Science have monitored the board, specifically the political firing of Science Director Chris Comer. The Texas Freedom Network has done a great job of monitoring the SBOE and organizing citizen actions in response

Concerned individuals can get involved in a number of ways. If you’re interested in monitoring the situation, signing a petition, or testifying in front of the SBOE on November 19th, TFN can help you. Consider doing all three. These things are serious grassroots activism for the cause of science education. Testifying may sound like a lot of work, but it’s a great experience that will allow you to express your perspective as a taxpayer and as a Texan. Usually testimonies are just a few minutes—just long enough to make a point or two. You’ll be doing it along side other concerned activists who will be there with you making a difference. 

It is also possible to review the TEKS standards online and submit comments directly to the board. This is another great way to participate. To do this, go to the Science TEKS page and read the relevant portion of the "High School science" TEKS. You will then get the "High School Courses" form and fill in your comments. There are multiple ways of submitting the form. You will submit one form for each science course TEKS you would like to respond to. If you do this, please remember to follow the instructions and make your comments relate to specific sections of the TEKS. Be assertive, but polite. 

The ACA would like to encourage all people interested in the quality of science education to participate in this important process for the betterment of our country and our futures or consider donating to these groups that are making a difference. 

Don Baker

Atheist Community of Austin

The Atheist Community of Austin is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting positive atheism and the separation of church and state. The ACA serves the local Austin community through outreach programs, providing informational resources and various volunteer activities. In addition, the ACA serves the community-at-large through free online portals including informational wikis, regular audio/video podcasts and interactive blogs.

We define atheism as the lack of belief in gods. This definition also encompasses what most people call agnosticism.

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