Several states considering bills to promote academic freedom

From Evolution News.


Across the country legislation is moving forward that will protect teachers and students who want the freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of modern evolutionary theory.

[…]To help combat the dogmatism that presently pervades evolution-education, Discovery Institute supports legislation that protects academic freedom for teachers who would dare to challenge Darwin in the classroom. There are presently academic freedom bills in Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Missouri.

As is expected, misinformation is already being spread about the bills. Yesterday I was informed that Oklahoma evolutionists are continuing to spread the myth that Louisiana’s Academic Freedom Law was declared unconstitutional. The truth is that the law hasn’t even been challenged in court. As I discuss here, ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman reportedly acknowledged that “if the Act is utilized as written, it should be fine; though she is not sure it will be handled that way.”

ClimateProgress is putting out the false claim that the legislation “forces teachers to question evolution.” That’s false. An academic freedom bill does not require teachers to teach anything differently. Topics like evolution will still be taught as a matter of required state law. All students will still need to learn and will be tested upon all aspects of state science standards. The bill still mandates that teachers follow the curriculum and teach the pro-evolution evidence. But it also gives teachers academic freedom to teach about credible scientific viewpoints that challenge the neo-Darwinian “consensus”–if they choose to do so.

And of course, we’re also hearing the standard false claim that the bills allow the teaching of creationism or religion. Despite the talking points of critics, academic freedom bills would not authorize or protect the teaching of creationism or any other religious viewpoint. According to a number of federal court rulings, creationism is a religious viewpoint that is illegal to advocate in public schools. Consistent with these rulings, most academic freedom bills contain language that expressly excludes the teaching of religion and only protects the teaching of scientific information.

I’m sure that if I looked at those bills that they are being sponsored by Republicans. Academic freedom – the freedom to question authority about evidence – is very important to conservatives.

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