The Tennessee Legislature just passed a bill that protects teachers who teach creationism over evolution, and teachers who welcome “debate” on culture war issues like global warming or “intelligent design.” Tennessee is the home of the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial that prosecuted a teacher for breaking a law that banned the teaching of evolution. Perhaps by the 100th anniversary of the Scopes trial, it will once again be illegal to actually teach evolution. The bill will go into law in ten days without the Governor’s signature — because even Republican Governor Bill Haslam apparently thinks the bill is both unnecessary and a joke.
“Critics, including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Civil Liberties Union, have criticized the bill as a cover for reintroducing creationism in Tennessee schools. Many opponents linked the measure to the 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tenn., in which a schoolteacher was tried for breaking a state law then on the books that banned the teaching of evolution,” The Tennessean reports:
Unlike that law, HB 368/SB 893 will not require the teaching of view of creation. Instead, it encourages students to question accepted scientific theories, and it protects teachers from punishment if they teach creationism.
Haslam said such discussions are already allowed under state law and that the measure will just create confusion over the state’s science curriculum. But he declined to veto a measure that passed by wide margins, making it unlikely he could have won an override vote.
“The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin,” he said, “but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective.”
No word yet on a House bill that was to be debated today that would prohibit the teaching of anything except abstinence-only education in Tennessee schools. The bill, which the Tennessee Senate just days ago passed, is an alternative to the much lampooned “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and would classify holding hands as “gateway sexual activity.”
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