Two weeks ago I posted on Tennessee’s “teach-the-controversy” bill, which had passed the state House and Senate. Here’s a summary again (my emphasis):
This bill prohibits the state board of education and any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or principal or administrator from prohibiting any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught, such as evolution and global warming. This bill also requires such persons and entities to endeavor to:
(1) Create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues; and
(2) Assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.
The bill has been opposed by every member of the National Academies of Science who lives in Tennessee, by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by the Tennessee Education Association, and by the Tennessee branch of the American Civil Liberties Union—i.e., every organ of rationality in the state.
Despite this, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam is about to sign the bill into law. According to the Vanderbilt University student newspaper:
Haslam said the State Board of Education has told him the measure won’t affect the state’s current scientific curriculum for primary, middle or high school students. Louisiana enacted a similar law in 2008.
“I think the one thing about that bill is this: Nothing about the curriculum of the state of Tennessee will change, and the scientific standards won’t change,” he said. “So I think some of the discussion about its impact has probably been overblown.”
Note the emphasis on “evolution and global warming.” If that’s not religious motivation—and a legitimate reason for contesting the constitutionality of the bill—I don’t know what is.
And here’s some lovely doublespeak:
House sponsor Bill Dunn, a Knoxville Republican, said the proposal states that it is “not … construed to promote religion.”
“What the bill says is that as long as you stick to objective scientific facts, then you can bring that into play,” the Knoxville Republican said. “So if students start asking questions or if there’s debate on it, it’s not a one-sided debate. But it is a fair debate, in that it’s objective scientific facts that are brought forward.”
If that’s the case, why do they single out evolution and global warming? Why not quantum mechanics and the Krebs cycle? After all, there’s just as much valid scientific opposition to quantum mechanics and the Krebs cycle as there is to evolution.
People of Tennessee, your state is about to look really stupid.