Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tennessee Senate passes anti-science education bill

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Scopes Monkey Trial cartoon

Tennessee apparently hasn’t learned its lesson from its landmark 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial – and what’s more, it’s now extending the same ignorance-based approach to education that led them to that crushing courtroom defeat in the first place to other scientific domains as well:

The Tennessee state Senate passed a bill Monday that protects teachers who allow student to question and criticize "controversial" scientific theories like evolution.

The Senate voted 24-8 for SB 893, which would allow teachers to help students "understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories" like "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning."

"The idea behind this bill is that students should be encouraged to challenge current scientific thought and theory," Republican state Sen. Bo Watson told The Tennesseean. Watson is the bill's sponsor.

The proposal also instructs teachers on how to comfortably and appropriately "address students' concerns about certain scientific theories" within a curriculum established by the Board of Education. The bill would not affect the state's science curriculum.

Sneaky as ever. See, they’re not changing or corrupting science education in schools; they’re just allowing kids to ask questions about myths and rank pseudoscience … and encouraging teachers to answer with lies. But the curriculum itself is totally safe!

If so, then how come …

The National Association of Biology Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and all eight Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences

… are all against this bill? Gee, maybe it wouldn’t preserve the integrity of science classrooms after all.

The bill now heads to Gov. Bil Haslam (R) for an almost-certain signature. Thank god for those liberal activist judges who will (even more certainly) slap this silly law down the first chance they get. It seems somewhat upsetting to me that people should rely on the criminal justice system to know better about what should be taught as proper science than the lawmakers elected to make those very decisions in the first place.

Coincidentally, new research is in: Global warming is still real and temperatures are still rising. One wonders what Tennessee teachers will have to say about it once SB 893 hits the rulebook.

(via @radleybalko)