Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Living Portrait of Scientific Literacy

Environmental & Science Eduction
Literacy

The Ebola Fighters were named Time Person of the Year for 2014.  Kaci Hickok was a member of this remarkable group of doctors, nurses and volunteers.

She struck me as an exemplar of a scientifically literate person. One of the ideas talked about in K-12 is helping students to become ready for citizenship.  She is an exemplar of this as well.

You remember her.  Upon her return from Sierra Leone, where she served as an Ebola nurse with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders aka MSF), she was quarantined--secured in a tent for four days--in Newark, N. J.. Upon her release and return to Maine, the Maine governor regarded her as a "high risk" person, which would subject her to quarantine--a form of house arrest. She refused. That she was free of symptoms and had a negative blood test for the Ebola virus made no difference.

I was struck throughout by her scientific (biomedical) literacy, her knowledge of civics in her use of the law in terms of her rights as a citizen, and her civil public discourse and community civility.  She challenged the Maine quarantine and won.  In the end, she was required to follow CDC guidelines--daily monitoring and notifying the relevant authorities of her movements outside her home.

An interview with Kaci Hickok on being included in the Time Person of the Year Award for 2014 may be read here.

Ms. Hickok later criticized Governor Christie who had earlier quarantined her in New Jersey on his "ill-informed" comments on vaccines in general.  She makes an insightful comment on what leadership demands in a society informed by science and rational thinking.