The past few weeks Gov. Haslam has been chiding the media for paying attention to his party’s extremist social agenda instead of focusing on “real issues”.
Yesterday, Haslam had the perfect opportunity to show his leadership and seriousness by vetoing the unnecessary and backwards “Monkey Bill,” which would loosen science standards in Tennessee by injecting bias and false information into Tennessee’s science classes.
What did Haslam do with this opportunity to send a message to the legislature that we should be focusing on improving education and growing the middle class in this state? Nothing.
Well, not nothing, he sent out a fence-straddling letter saying he would neither sign nor veto the “monkey bill,” but instead let it pass without his signature. A perfect example of Gov. Bill Haslam’s do-nothing style of “leadership” in this state.
In a letter sent to legislators, the National Center for Science Education outlined why this bill would be bad for Tennessee (pdf):
By undermining the teaching of evolution in Tennessee’s public schools, HB 368 and SB 893 would miseducate students, harm the state’s national reputation, and weaken its efforts to compete in a science-driven global economy
Indeed, Tennessee should be moving forward towards strengthening our science education standards, not going backwards by loosening and weakening our quality of science education. This isn’t just a philosophical argument, Tennesseans were disappointed to see that Volkswagen in Chattanooga had to create a national recruitment campaign to fill skilled technical jobs at their Tennessee plant, in part because we haven’t done enough to promote science education in this state to meet the needs of a 21st Century economy.
If Haslam is serious about expanding our STEM capacity in Tennessee, he sent the wrong message to the nation and world about our seriousness about promoting progress and fostering scientific learning.