Tennessee Senate passes law biased against science education

TN science bill protects teachers who allow debate over evolution | The Tennessean.

The Tennessee Senate approved a bill Monday that would encourage teachers and students to debate evolution in the classroom, setting aside complaints that the measure would drag the state back onto the battleground over the teaching of creationism.

Senators voted 24-8 to pass a bill that says schoolteachers cannot be punished for “helping students to understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories” taught in public schools.

The measure has drawn strong opposition from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Center for Science Education and the American Civil Liberties Union, which said it is cover for teachers who want to teach creationism or intelligent design. Supporters said the measure would give teachers more guidance to answer students’ questions about science topics.

“The idea behind this bill is that students should be encouraged to challenge current scientific thought and theory,” said state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson.

Tip: NCSE

At least one Senator has his head on straight. Andy Berke said:

“We’re simply dredging up the problems of our past with this bill that will affect our future.”

Tennessee was the site of the Scopes Trial, the famous battle about teaching evolution in classrooms. Is this another challenge set to be faced down? This one could also bring in issues about global warming as well. Just wondering, what if the child has a problem with gravity or thermodynamics? Why just science class? What if they object to subjects in health class or have a disagree with the teacher’s interpretation of a piece of classic literature. Make no mistake, this law singles out a religious/ideological issue, a discussion that does NOT belong in science class.

To support serious science education in schools, please visit the NCSE site. It’s our only hope.

  1 comment for “Tennessee Senate passes law biased against science education

  1. Massachusetts
    March 21, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    I don’t fully understand the situation and how this law would have been used. Legislating this seems rather odd to me to say the least, and I’m not clear at all what they would expect as an outcome. However, I grew up in a pretty pro evolution school system, butI don’t think my teachers would have discouraged a debate on the science, if it was an academic debate. They would have used it as a pedagogical tool I think, and welcomed students who wanted to approach the topic in this manner. A school doing it’s own reproduction of the scopes trial, with historical characters, and modern scientific facts and theories, would be interesting for the kids and teach them both history and science. Implicit in this approach is the assumption that junk science notions are challenged and exposed, as the process progresses. In an adversarial trial or debate-like format motivated students who want to win would be charged with this task.

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