A new series of bills passing in various states around the country are calling for “academic freedom,” which sounds good and all. However, these bills are being used to teach that creationism and evolution are both equally valid theories.
They want to allow teachers to present all sides of controversial issues such as evolution and climate change. These laws have passed in several states such as Florida, Alabama, and Indiana.
“The strategies of creationists have gotten more sophisticated.”
They are taking a somewhat backdoor approach to this. For example, the Florida law, which passed May 5, 2017, says that any taxpayer can complain about a school’s curriculum. It doesn’t change curriculum that is already in place, but in the event of a complaint, a hearing will be convened to determine if the material is:
“…Accurate, balanced, noninflammatory, current, free of pornography … and suited to students’ needs.”
This sounds like they have good intentions. However, who decides what “balanced” and “noninflammatory” mean?
State Representative Byron Donalds (R-Florida, 80th District), who sponsored the bill, says it’s not anti-science at all. He says he thinks it passed because they didn’t target any one subject specifically. He said:
“One of the key things about this bill, and why I think it passed, is that we didn’t target any one subject matter.
…The people pushing the bill have been complaining about evolution and climate change. It’s obvious that a strong motivation is getting that out of the textbooks.”
There are two main types of “academic freedom” bills that have passed in various states in recent years. One type mandates that teachers should be able to discuss:
“… The full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution.”
Students are given:
“… Protection for subscribing to a particular position on views regarding biological or chemical evolution.”
Another type allows teachers to discuss:
“… The scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”
Here is a video about an Oklahoma “academic freedom” bill:
Featured image via Twitter.