As America's debate about global warming became politicized over the past half-decade, the controversy entered a new battleground: the nation's classrooms.
From coast to coast, school boards, teachers and parents became embroiled in disputes over whether or how to teach students about climate change. At the same time, dozens of "academic freedom bills" were filed in state legislatures mandating that equal time be given to teaching the belief that climate science isn't settled. And conservative organizations poured millions of dollars into developing educational materials and curricula to teach climate skepticism as a valid scientific proposition.
Standing front and center in the fight against these efforts is the National Center for Science Education, an Oakland-based non-profit group that helps to keep politics, religion and ideology out of science classrooms. Leading the group's 4,500 members—which include scientists, teachers, clergy and citizens—is Eugenie Scott, a physical anthropologist and author of the 2005 book Evolution vs. Creationism.
Scott has served as NCSE's executive director since 1987, when the organization's main focus was fighting the rise of the creationist and intelligent design movements that sought to undermine the teaching of evolution. In recent years, however, she has led the NCSE's effort to keep global warming skepticism out of science classrooms.