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Steve Randak dies

Steve RandakSteve Randak

Steve Randak, a biology teacher highlighted in 2001's Evolution series on PBS, died on August 23, 2011, according to the Lafayette, Indiana, Journal and Courier (August 26, 2011). Born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 26, 1945, Randak received his B.S. in biology and psychology from Wabash College in 1967, and his M.S. in biology and education in 1973. He was a biology teacher from 1967 to 2009, spending the last twenty years of his career at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana. He was active in helping his fellow teachers to teach science effectively, including through the Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes, for which he was a Lead Teacher. Among the awards and honors he accrued were the Outstanding Biology Teaching Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers in 1990, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching in 1993, the first Evolution Education Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers in 2002, and an honorary Ph.D. from Wabash College in 2003.

Ironically, as Randak noted in his 2001 article "The Children's Crusade for Creationism" (published originally in The American Biology Teacher and reprinted in Reports of the NCSE), it may have been his high school's emphasis on the effective teaching of evolution that provoked students to launch a campaign calling for creation science to be added to the biology curriculum — a campaign that was documented in chapter 5 of show 7 of the Evolution series broadcast on PBS in 2001. The result was ideal, Randak explained: "At its public meeting, under the glare of local and national television lights, the school board was told politely that the curriculum would not be altered." But he worried about what might happen in districts with a less supportive administration, writing, "Children crusading for creation science or 'intelligent design' in the name of fair play is a compelling idea to an unaware public. If the tactic is used successfully in school districts less ideal than ours, it will surely meet with success — and science education will suffer."