State legislatures aim to pass bills to guarantee academic freedom

Story here from Evolution News.


The recent front page New York Times article on academic freedom legislation offers a stark reminder that the intelligentsia is very worried about the prospect of teachers gaining academic freedom, as a bill presently in the Kentucky legislature would allow, “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

From 2008-2009, 12 academic freedom bills were submitted into state legislatures, including Florida, Alabama (2), South Carolina (2), Missouri (2), Michigan, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Iowa, and New Mexico. Now in 2010, there are 3 bills already, including bills in Kentucky, Missouri, and Mississippi.

Here are a couple of examples:

The Kentucky bill encourages teachers to “promote critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories being studied.”

The Missouri bill allows teachers “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution.”

Details on the language used in each bill is provided in the post.

2 thoughts on “State legislatures aim to pass bills to guarantee academic freedom”

  1. As ever, the problem isn’t that kids would be taught to be critical or assess theories or whatever else: that’s what science SHOULD be teaching them. Of course, especially at lower levels of education, children are taught simply the ‘end result’ of the science, rather than given the evidence and all the rest to consider. That’s not unreasonable.

    But these trojan horse bills are merely the creationism moving from its cheap tuxedo (the ID movement) to the semantics camouflage. Because it isn’t science *in general* they want to be taught more critically, but evolution *in particular* – the wording of the motions betray this themselves (as well as mentioning over cause celebres of the religious right, like climate change and stem cells.) But that’s wrong: evolution is one of the few theories in biology to enjoy virtually unanimous support from biologists – if we were serious about teaching people to think critically, it would be the thing we can afford to be *least* critical about, let alone being *specifically* critical about it.

    So the reason why scientists and educationalists (not to mention the editor of the NYT) are up in arms about this is because they see the ID movement up the same old tricks of trying to massage anti-evolutionary non-science in whenever they can, this time using the canard of ‘academic freedom’ to be a smokescreen for additional and unwarranted scepticism regarding evolution as opposed to the rest of science.

    Another false narrative ID tries to push is this hegemony of scientists out to suppress dissent and criticism of their evil materialistic agenda. Yet, the last time a stunt like this was pulled (Dover) the teachers refused to ‘teach the controversy’ – because they felt morally obligated not to lie or mislead their kids. I guess they’re in on it too.

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