Press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee; March 19, 2012:
On Monday (3/19) at 5:00 pm, the State Senate will consider a bill that would gut science education in public schools. Under the pretext of fostering “critical thinking,” SB 0893 would ensure that teachers could help students examine alleged “strengths” and “weaknesses” of the theory of evolution and other so-called “debatable” scientific subjects, calling their very validity into question. (This bill passed the House last April, so this is our last chance to stop it).
Prestigious scientific and educational organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, oppose the legislation. They unanimously agree that there is no scientific controversy regarding the theory of evolution, only a political controversy that does not belong in the science classroom.
Though bill sponsors say they responded to critics by amending the original language, their fix merely involves substituting “controversy” with “debate” and “disputation.” The phrase “strengths and weaknesses” of existing scientific theories is typically code in the evolution debate to introduce non-scientific ideas like creationism and intelligent design into the science curriculum.
No one doubts the value of critical thinking to any serious course of scientific study. But this legislation is not aimed at developing students’ critical thinking skills. Rather, it seeks to subvert scientific principle to religious ideology by granting legal cover to teachers who wish to dress up religious beliefs on the origin of life as pseudo-science.
Not only does legislation like this risk that our students will be at a disadvantage in our increasingly competitive global economy, but it will negatively impact the State’s ability to recruit high-tech industries and other businesses.
This legislation is one of a slew of anti-religious freedom bills hurtling through the legislature right now, threatening to transfer personal family decision-making about faith firmly into the grip of the government. Thank you for using your voice to keep religion out of the science classroom.