Wednesday, March 21, 2012

State Pushes Anti-Science Laws To Governor Haslam

Grade school and high school are the academic locations Tennesseee's politicians want to use to determine the value of science and that of religion too. Yep. Science is some dubious scheme to make you doubt Jesus, according to the state legislature.

Nearly one year after this ridiculous idea first shambled into the legislature, the bill to order teachers to say science is a controversial topic is waiting for Gov. Haslam to sign it. Knox Rep. Bill Dunn has allowed Hixson Senator Bo Watson to run the legislation through this time. 

"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."

Yeah, forget education about the value of science or math or biology - let kids decide classroom by classroom if they believe any of it.

"Knoxville Rep. Bill Dunn was very careful in presenting HB 368 so it hides the anti-science goals, but the result is clear - science classes must present science itself as controversial and the bill promotes a deep lack of understanding of what "scientific theory" means. As for who should help create these low standards - not scientists, of course - but administrators. The bill only defines as "controversial" a select set of areas: "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." And, as noted below, Rep. Dunn's legislation is the creation of evangelical Christians.Rep. Dunn's aim of injecting politics into school science classes is a dangerous act. And his proposed new state law is a part of a nationwide effort to use the schoolroom as a political tool to promote political agendas. These bogus ideas are labeled "Academic Freedom" bills, which sounds nice, but really point to a desire to eliminate critical study and reject the history of scientific investigation, and the legislation is drafted by evangelical organizations:

... 'academic freedom' bills that are being introduced by state lawmakers around the country instruct educators to teach students about “both sides” of controversial issues—most notably on evolution. The Seattle-based, pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute is behind efforts to introduce many of these bills and has proposed sample legislation for lawmakers to follow.
Since the Louisiana bill was passed (making it the only state to have actually passed an academic freedom bill into law), proposed bills have included global warming and human cloning on the list of “controversial topics,” as they encourage “thinking critically” about the “relationships between explanations and evidence.”
More recently, in Kentucky, a bill was introduced in the Legislature that would encourage teachers to discuss “the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories,” including “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Other troubling aspects of this dumbed-down educational law includes the following confusions for teachers:

"Some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects."

Whose expectations? Those of the uneducated and misinformed? The really loud folks who think science is a colossal hoax?

Schools must also insure " ...respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues."
Respect for the scientific method, peer review, and the actual scientific meaning of the concepts of "theory" and "experimentation" .... well, let's just push that aside. Since new data and observations are made in most scientific fields of study as a result of the work of scientists, then, yes, concepts and theories are often revised. But it's a huge leap in thinking to claim that science is mostly mistaken guesswork and inherently controversial."


Among those expressing opposition to the bill are the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, whose president Becky Ashe described (PDF) the legislation as "unnecessary, anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional."

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