Academic Freedom bills

Academic Freedom bills

Academic Freedom bills are a series of anti-evolution bills introduced in State legislatures in the United States between 2004 and 2008. They purport that teachers, students, and college professors face intimidation and retaliation when discussing scientific criticisms of evolution, and therefore require protection. [http://www.academicfreedompetition.com/freedom.php Academic Freedom Act] ] Critics of the bills point out that there are no credible scientific critiques of evolution. [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120967537476060561.html Evolution's Critics Shift Tactics With Schools] , Stephanie Simon, Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2008] Investigation of the allegations of intimidation and retaliation have found no evidence that it occurs. [http://www.flsenate.gov/data/session/2008/Senate/bills/analysis/pdf/2008s2692.ed.pdf Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement] , The Professional Staff of the Education Pre-K - 12 Committee, Florida Senate, March 26 2008]

They are based largely upon language drafted by the Discovery Institute, hub of the intelligent design movement, and derive from language originally drafted for the Santorum Amendment, in the United States Senate. As of June 2008, only the Louisiana bill has been successfully been passed into law.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the common goal of these bills is to expose more students to articles and videos that undercut evolution, most of which are produced by advocates of intelligent design or Biblical creationism.

rquote|center|They have spent years working school boards, with only minimal success. Now critics of evolution are turning to a higher authority: state legislators.

In a bid to shape biology lessons, they are promoting what they call "academic freedom" bills that would encourage or require public-school teachers to cast doubt on a cornerstone of modern science.|"Evolution's Critics Shift Tactics With Schools"|Wall Street Journal

Timeline

*2001: Santorum Amendment
*2004: Alabama bill
*2005: Alabama bill
*2006: Alabama, Oklahoma, Maryland bills; Ouachita Parish School Board policy (Louisiana)
*2008: Discovery Institute petition and model statute; "" released; Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina bills

antorum Amendment

In 2001 former Republican United States Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania proposed an amendment, to the education funding bill which became known as the No Child Left Behind Act, which promoted the teaching of intelligent design while questioning the academic standing of evolution in U.S. public schools. The language of this amendment was crafted in part by the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, [http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=111 Congressional Record] Proceedings of the 107th Congress, first edition, June 13, 2001.] , with Phillip E. Johnson, founding advisor of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, and "father" of the intelligent design movement, assisting Santorum in phrasing the amendment. ["That language, which was penned by Phil Johnson for Rick Santorum, passed the Senate as an amendment to the No Child Left Behind education bill, and eventually became part of the conference report for that legislation." cite web|url=http://pewforum.org/events/print.php?EventID=93|title=The Biology Wars: The Religion, Science and Education Controversy|date=December 5, 2005] [cite web|url=http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&program=CSCStories&id=1172|title=Santorum Language on Evolution: Congressional record] It wrongly portrayed evolution as generating "much continuing controversy" and being not widely accepted, using the Discovery Institute's Teach The Controversy method.

On June 14, 2001, the amendment was passed as part of the education funding bill by the Senate on a vote of 91-8. This was hailed as a major victory by proponents of intelligent design and other creationists; for instance an email newsletter by the Discovery Institute contained the sentence "Undoubtedly this will change the face of the debate over the theories of evolution and intelligent design in America...It also seems that the Darwinian monopoly on public science education, and perhaps the biological sciences in general, is ending."

Scientists and educators feared that by singling out biological evolution as very controversial, the amendment could create the impression that a substantial scientific controversy about evolution exists, leading to a lessening of academic rigor in science curricula. A coalition of 96 scientific and educational organizations signed a letter to this effect to the conference committee, urging that the amendment be stricken from the final bill, which it was, but intelligent design supporters on the conference committee preserved it in the bill's legislative history. [cite web|url=http://www.issues.org/issues/18.3/hill.html#Language|title=Language on evolution attached to education law]

While the amendment did not become law, a version of it appears in the Conference Report as an explanatory text about the legislative history and purposes of the bill. Such a report may be taken into account if courts later need to consider the intent of the bill, but it has no legal force per se.

Overview

Rather than calling for teaching intelligent design or Biblically-based creationism (as previous legislative attempts have), they make no mention of these subjects. They instead describe evolution as controversial and attempt to bar school administrators from interfering with teachers who describing purported flaws in the theory. This runs contrary to the overwhelming scientific consensus, which holds that there is no debate about the core principles of evolution, which scientists regard as the only credible, and a thoroughly tested, scientific explanation for the development and diversification of all life on Earth. [http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/05/14/37evolution_ep.h27.html?tmp=1673105826 ‘Academic Freedom’ Used as Basis Of Bills to Question Evolution] , Sean Cavanagh, Education Week, May 12, 2008]

Tom Hutton, a senior staff lawyer for the National School Boards Association, stated that while state legislators have a legal right to craft laws that affect districts’ policies as a general rule, he believes that some decisions are better left to local officials. He further suggested that these proposed bills, if enacted, could face difficult legal challenges. He further stated that despite their language stating that they are not promoting religious views, and wording to promote "scientific" rather than religious critiques, courts are likely to question the motives behind these bills, and their specific focus on evolution, and draw a conclusion as to "what’s going on here."

Michael Simpson, a lawyer for the National Education Association stated that courts have generally refused to afford significant free-speech protections to teachers for in-class remarks. He further offered the opinion that the legality of these measures would depend on a number of unknowns, such as how the critical views of evolution-critical views were presented, and possibly the degree of congruence between them and other state policies, such as state science curriculum.

A variety of groups, such as the National Center for Science Education and Anti-Defamation League criticized and are publicity opposed to the "Academic Freedom bills." [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/US/661_adl_reiterates_its_support_of__7_22_2008.asp ADL reiterates its support of evolution education] , National Center for Science Education] [ [http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926643.300-new-legal-threat-to-school-science-in-the-us.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=news3_head_mg19926643.300 New legal threat to teaching evolution in the US] , Amanda Gefter, New Scientist, 09 July 2008]

Ed Brayton described the bills as promoting intelligent design: "allow teachers to bring in all of the arguments against evolution made by the ID movement without actually calling it ID." [http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/05/academic_freedom_bill_in_south.php "Academic Freedom" Bill in South Carolina Now] Ed Brayton, Dispatches From the Culture Wars, May 18, 2008.]

Alabama bills

Between 2004 and 2006, a series of unsuccessful anti-evolution 'Academic freedom' bills were introduced in the Alabama Legislature. [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/FL/527_opposition_to_the_antievolutio_3_20_2008.asp Opposition to the antievolution bills in Florida] , National Center for Science Education]

On April 8 2004, the Alabama Senate unanimously passed SB336, the "Academic Freedom Act." The bill would have given teachers at public institutions "the affirmative right and freedom to present scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative theories or points of view on the subject of origins" and gives students the right to hold a "particular position on origins, so long as he or she demonstrates acceptable understanding of course materials." Before passage, it was amended so that " [t] he rights and privileges contained in this act do not apply to the presentation of theoretical information unless it is accompanied by scientific, historical, or evidentiary information." [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2004/AL/63_academic_freedom_act_progres_4_16_2004.asp "Academic Freedom Act" progresses in Alabama] , National Center for Science Education] On May 17 2004, the Alabama House adjourned the 2004 legislative session without voting on the bill, allowing it to lapse. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2004/AL/998_alabama_legislature_lets_sb336_5_18_2004.asp Alabama legislature lets SB336 die without a vote] , National Center for Science Education]

On February 8, 2005, a pair of virtually identical bills were simultaneously introduced in the Alabama Senate and House (HB352 and SB240), again under the description of "The Academic Freedom Act." These bills purported to protect the right of teachers "to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories" and the right of students to "hold positions regarding scientific views", using language reminiscent of the Santorum Amendent. In an attempt to avert Establishment Clause concerns, the bills both stated that " [n] othing in this act shall be construed as promoting any religious doctrine, promoting discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promoting discrimination for or against religion or non-religion." [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/AL/865_alternative_theories_legisla_2_10_2005.asp "Alternative Theories" Legislation -- Again] , National Center for Science Education] On April 5, 2005, a third, near-identical bill (also dubbed the "Academic Freedom Act") was introduced in the Alabama House (HB 716). [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/AL/447_third_2005_antievolution_bill__4_19_2005.asp Third 2005 Antievolution Bill Introduced in Alabama] , National Center for Science Education] On May 3, 2005, the legislative session closed without passing any of these three bills, so that they lapsed. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/AL/104_three_antievolution_bills_die__5_5_2005.asp Three antievolution bills die in Alabama] , National Center for Science Education]

On January 10, 2006, another pair of identical bills (HB106 and SB45), closely resembling the previous antievolution bills, were again introduced in the Alabama legislature, again under the description of "The Academic Freedom Act". [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/AL/865_two_antievolution_bills_in_ala_1_21_2006.asp Two antievolution bills in Alabama] , National Center for Science Education] On April 18, 2006 the Alabama Legislature again adjourned without passing them, again allowing them to lapse. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/AL/575_alabama_antievolution_bills_di_5_10_2006.asp Alabama antievolution bills die] , National Center for Science Education]

On April 24, 2008, David Grimes introduced an 'Academic Freedom' bill (HB 923) into the Alabama House and it was referred to the Education Policy Committee. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/AL/598_antievolution_legislation_in_a_4_30_2008.asp Antievolution legislation in Alabama] , National Center for Science Education, April 30, 2008] The bill died, along with hundreds of others, with the end of the legislative session in the first week in May. [ [http://www.cbs42.com/news/local/18742844.html State Legislature Kills Hundreds of Bills during Session] , Associated Press 7 May 2008]

Oklahoma bills

In early 2006 Representative Sally Kern introduced an anti-evolution 'Academic Freedom' bill (HB2107) into the Oklahoma House, which passed it by a vote of 77-10 on March 2, 2006. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/OK/670_antievolution_legislation_on_t_1_12_2006.asp Antievolution legislation on the horizon in Oklahoma] , National Center for Science Education] [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/OK/784_oklahoma_update_3_30_2006.asp Oklahoma update] , National Center for Science Education] Also in 2006 Senator Daisy Lawler introduced another anti-evolution bill, based upon language in the Santorum Amendment, in the Oklahoma Senate. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/OK/702_a_third_antievolution_bill_in__1_24_2006.asp A third antievolution bill in Oklahoma] , National Center for Science Education] Both bills (and two further, unrelated, anti-evolution bills) lapsed with the end of the 2006 legislative session. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/OK/68_respite_in_oklahoma_6_29_2006.asp Respite in Oklahoma] , National Center for Science Education]

Maryland bill

A bill (HB1531) was introduced into the Maryland House of Delegates on February 16, 2006, to enact a "Teachers Academic Freedom Act" and a "Faculty Academic Freedom Act", that closely resembled the 2006 Alabama bills. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/MD/636_antievolution_legislation_in_m_2_21_2006.asp Antievolution legislation in Maryland] , National Center for Science Education] The bill lapsed with the end of the 2006 legislative session. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/MD/831_both_antievolution_bills_in_ma_4_11_2006.asp Both antievolution bills in Maryland dead] , National Center for Science Education]

Discovery Institute petition and model statute

In February 2008, the Discovery Institute announced the Academic Freedom Petition campaign, [ [http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/02/protect_the_rights_of_teachers.html Protect the Rights of Teachers and Students to Question Darwinism] , Robert Crowther, Evolution News & Views, Discovery Institute, February 7 2008] which it is conducting with assistance from Brian Gage Design [ [http://www.whois.net/whois_new.cgi?d=academicfreedompetition&tld=com WHOIS information for: academicfreedompetition.com] ] who provides the Discovery Institute graphic design professional services. [ [http://www.briangagedesign.com/port/advertising/discovery_institute.php Brian Gage Design Advertising Portfolio: Discovery Institute] ] The petition states:

The petition website also offers a 'Model Academic Freedom Statute on Evolution', and lists Casey Luskin, program officer for public policy and legal affairs at Discovery Institute, as the contact person for questions on it.

Linkage with "Expelled" film

Pre-release screenings for legislators of the controversial film "", which portrays proponents of intelligent design as being "persecuted", have been presented by actor Ben Stein. There were special showings for Florida and Missouri legislators in support of Academic Freedom bills in those states. [ [http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080405/NEWS06/804050346 Intelligent design bill author wants debate] , Chad Livengood, News-Leader, April 5, 2008]

The Florida showing was at the invitation of that Florida bill's House sponsor, Representative Alan Hays, on March 12, 2008. It was a private screening restricted to legislators, their spouses, and their legislative aides. The press and public were excluded, and when the House general counsel was asked if that was legal under the Florida sunshine law he stated that it was technically legal as long as they just watched the film without discussing the issue or arranging any future votes. [cite web |url=http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080311/NEWS0120/80311045/1075 |title=Legislature invited to movie about creationism debate : news-press.com : The News-Press |accessdate=2008-03-13 |format= |work=] Commenting on this, and the controversy over Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel previously managing to view the film against the wishes of the film company, House Democratic leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach stated, "It's kind of an irony: The public is expelled from a movie called Expelled." The screening was attended by about 100 people, but few were legislators,cite web |url=http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080313/CAPITOLNEWS/803130323/1067/RSS15 |title=Lawmakers attend Tallahassee screening of movie by Ben Stein : tallahassee.com : Tallahassee Democrat |accessdate=2008-03-14 |format= |work=] and the majority of legislators stayed away.cite web |url=http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080314/OPINION01/803140322/1006/OPINION |title=Eyes wide open : tallahassee.com : Tallahassee Democrat |accessdate=2008-03-14 ]

Shortly before the film was released on April 18, 2008, the producer of the film, Walt Ruloff, held a press conference on April 15 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.. Ruloff announced his plans to use the "Expelled" film as part of a campaign to pass academic freedom bills in a variety of American states. [ [http://reason.com/news/show/125988.html "Flunk this Movie!"] , Ronald Bailey, Reason magazine, April 16, 2008]

Florida bills

On 29 February 2008, Senator Ronda Storms introduced an Academic Freedom bill (SB2692) in the Florida Senate targeting teaching of evolution, [ [http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/mar/03/storms-evolution-bill-lets-teachers-contradict-the/ Storms' Evolution Bill Lets Teachers Contradict Theory] , Keith Morelli, Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune] which closely resembles both the Discovery Institute (DI) model statute and the previous Alabama bills. [ [http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/03/antievolution-l.html Anti-Evolution Legislation Introduced in Florida] , Mike Dunford, Panda's Thumb] Its sponsor in the Florida House of Representatives (as HB1483) was Representative Alan Hays, who claimed that the bill was simply drafted to allow teachers and students to discuss "the full range" of problems and ideas surrounding Darwin's theory without fear of punishment, but he and Storms were both unable to name any teachers in Florida who have been disciplined for being critical of evolution in the science classroom. Hays stated "I want a balanced policy. I want students taught how to think, not what to think. There are problems with evolution. Have you ever seen a half-monkey, half human?"cite web |url=http://www.miamiherald.com/458/story/451272.html |title=Ben Stein weighs in on evolution fight - 03/10/2008 - MiamiHerald.com |accessdate=2008-03-11 |author=Marc Caputo |date=March 10, 2008 |work= |publisher=Miami Herald ] DI attorney Casey Luskin's statement at a press conference supporting the bill that, in his personal opinion, Intelligent Design constitutes "scientific information" (which the bill explicitly permits) was taken by the Miami Herald as an admission that "Intelligent Design could more easily be brought up in public-school science classrooms" under the proposed law.cite web |url=http://www.miamiherald.com/458/story/454417.html |title=Intelligent Design could slip into science class - 03/13/2008 - MiamiHerald.com |accessdate=2008-03-15 |author=Marc Caputo |date=March 15, 2008 |work= |publisher=Miami Herald ] The American Civil Liberties Union also expressed concerns that these bills might make it easier to teach intelligent design as science in public schools. [ [http://www.aclufl.org/news_events/?action=viewRelease&emailAlertID=3384 Intelligent Design Should Not Be Taught in Florida’s Public School Science Classrooms] , American Civil Liberties Union]

The bills were also opposed by Florida Citizens for Science, including Chemistry Nobel Prize-winner Harold Kroto: [ [http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_education_edblog/2008/04/update-on-anti.html Update on anti-evolution or "academic freedom" bill; It got another yea vote in Tallahassee] , Orlando Sentinel blog] [http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20080415/NEWS/804150543/-1/newssitemap Evolution fray attracts top scientist] , Anna Scott, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 15]

The Senate bill was later amended to define "scientific information" as "germane current facts, data, and peer-reviewed research specific to the topic of chemical and biological evolution as prescribed in Florida's Science Standards." [ [http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking_dade/story/471282.html Evolution criticism bill weakened] , Marc Caputo, Miami Herald, Mar. 26, 2008] Storms refused to answer repeated direct questions from senate Democrats as to whether teachers would be permitted to teach Intelligent design under her bill and whether she believes that intelligent design meets its criteria for 'scientific information'. [http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking_news/story/499711.html 'Academic freedom' for evolution, not sex-ed] , Marc Caputo, Miami Herald, April 17 2008] The bill has also been criticised for its inconsistency in only protecting the freedom of teachers to discuss anti-evolution arguments, but not other controversies (such as birth control and abortion), [cite news | last = Mayo | first = Michael | title = Proposed Academic Freedom Act ripe with mumbo jumbo | publisher = South Florida Sun-Sentinel | date = March 20, 2008 | url = http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/columnists/sfl-flbmayocol0320sbmar20,0,6803395.column | accessdate=2008-03-20] but when Democrats introduced a proposal to have the bill's protection extended to sex-education Storms had it voted down. The House bill underwent substantial modification and, as amended, requires "Critical Analysis of Evolution" to be taught. An attempt by Senator Storms to ease the bill's passage by substituting the heavily amended House version failed to win acceptance in the Senate, leaving two incompatible bills, [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/FL/245_antievolution_bills_continue_t_4_29_2008.asp Antievolution bills continue to advance through Florida legislature] , National Center for Science Education, April 29, 2008] which died with the end of the legislative session on May 2. [ [http://www.miamiherald.com/775/story/519030.html Evolution bills die in Legislature as session ends] , Bill Kaczor, Miami Herald, May 02, 2008]

Detailed analysis of Discovery Institute language

A 'Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement' prepared by the Senate Education Pre-K - 12 Committee staff stated that:
*"Taken as a whole, the science standards [already] encourage teachers and students to discuss the full range of scientific evidence related to all science, including evolution."
*"According to the Department of Education, there has never been a case in Florida where a public school teacher or public school student has claimed that they have been discriminated against based on their science teaching or science course work."
*The bill creates ambiguity in its lack of definition of "biological and chemical evolution" and "objective scientific information", because it is silent on how this bill would affect teacher discipline over the science standards and by employing the word "may" in the context of student evaluation.

Liam Julian, a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and editor for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (which advocates and researches education reform), lists a number of reasons why the bill is "a lousy idea for Florida's students and schools": [cite web
url=http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/mar/28/na-academic-anarchy/
title=Academic Anarchy
publisher=www2.tbo.com
accessdate=2008-03-29
last=Julian
first=Liam
]
*It does not protect legitimate "freedom of speech", but rather "insulates teachers from being held accountable for their speech."
*It further dilutes principals' autonomy over school functions, whilst holding them accountable for academic performance. "This is accountability without autonomy, and it's a recipe for failure."
*"Principals would have no way to discipline teachers who are, say, presenting to students inaccurate scientific information ("who says it's inaccurate?") or deviating from the prescribed, state standards."
*By forbidding penalizing students for subscribing "to a particular position or view regarding biological or chemical evolution", it opens the door for litigation any time a student gets marked harshly for a piece of work containing such a "position or view".
*It "purports to shield public-school teachers who are vilified for questioning evolution's tenets. But a significant number of such teachers simply doesn't exist."

Louisiana act

A bill (SB561) named the "Louisiana Academic Freedom Act," was prefiled in the Louisiana Senate by Senator (and Senate Education Committee chair) Ben Nevers on March 21, 2008. While its name is the same as the Florida, Alabama and Discovery Institute bills, its contents are modelled on a policy adopted in 2006 by the Ouachita Parish School Board with the backing of the pro-creationism Louisiana Family Forum (LFF). The bill contends that "the teaching of some scientific subjects, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects," and extends permission to Louisiana's teachers to "help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught." [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/LA/109_antievolution_legislation_in_l_3_24_2008.asp Antievolution legislation in Louisiana] , National Center for Science Education]

Nevers states that he was asked to sponsor the bill by the LFF, and that it should not be considered a creationism measure because it would pave the way for theories that also challenge opinions on global warming, human cloning and other topics. Gene Mills, executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum, stated that a bill is needed that makes it easier for teachers to delve into criticism of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. [http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/17179166.html Author denies bill lets creationism slip into schools] , Will Sentell, The Advocate, Apr 1, 2008] However in introducing the LFF-suggested bill he also stated that the LFF "believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin's theory." [ [http://www.hammondstar.com/articles/2008/04/06/top_stories/9327.txt Bill allows teaching creationism as science] , Sylvia Schon, Hammond Star, April 6, 2008] Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State described the bill as "all about God in biology class".

On 21 April 2008 Representative Frank Hoffman, who was the assistant superintendent of the Ouachita Parish school system at time it adopted the LFF-backed policy, introduced an identical bill into the Louisiana House of Representatives (HB1168). [http://www.lasciencecoalition.org/docs/Forrest_UpdatedAnalysis_SB_733_6.5.08.pdf Analysis of SB 733, "LA Science Education Act"] , Barbara Forrest, April 27, 2008] [ [http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/History.asp?sessionid=08RS&billid=HB1168 HB1168 Bill history] ] On 22 April 2008, references to evolution, global warming and other subjects were stripped from the senate bill and replaced with calls for more general changes in science classes, [ [http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/17949069.html Evolution talk cut from bill] , Will Sentell, The Advocate, Apr 20, 2008] and it was renamed the "Louisiana Science Education Act" (and renumbered SB733), [ [http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/17931559.html Our Views: Just another waste of time] , Advocate Opinion page staff, The Advocate, Apr 19, 2008] [ [http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/History.asp?sessionid=08RS&billid=SB561 SB561 Bill history] ] and was passed unanimously on April 28, 2008. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/LA/396_louisiana_antievolution_bill_p_4_29_2008.asp Louisiana antievolution bill passes Senate] , National Center for Science Education] On 11 June 2008 the House bill was passed by a vote of 94-3. [ [http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/louisiana-house-passes-academic-freedom-evolution-science-issues/ Louisiana House Passes Academic Freedom Bill on Evolution and Other Science Issues] , FoxBusiness] In response, Americans United noted that Louisiana legislators have repeatedly tried to water down the teaching of evolution, with previous attempts having been deemed unconstiutional by the Supreme Court of the United States, and suggest that this legislation "opens the door to teaching creationism in public schools, an action that is likely to spark litigation". [ [http://www.au.org/site/News2?JServSessionIdr009=1ecizlso04.app7b&abbr=pr&page=NewsArticle&id=9881&security=1002&news_iv_ctrl=1241 Louisiana Will Face Lawsuit If New Law Brings Religion Into Public School Science Classes, Says Americans United] , Americans United for Separation of Church and State, June 11, 2008]

On 12 June 2008, the day after the House bill passed, "concerned parents, teachers and scientists" formed Louisiana Coalition for Science, " [i] n response to numerous attacks on science education in the Bayou State". Founding members include prominent historian and critic of the intelligent design movement Barbara Forrest, veteran biology teacher Patsye Peebles, and Presbyterian minister Betsy Irvine. [ [http://lasciencecoalition.org/2008/06/12/reject_sb_733/ Press Release: Reject SB 733] , Louisiana Coalition for Science]

In late June 2008 Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal signed the bill into law. [ [http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2008/06/science_law_could_set_tone_for.html Science law could set tone for Jindal] , Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune, June 26, 2008]

Conservative commentator (and frequent critic of Intelligent Design) John Derbyshire described the likely effects of the law as: [ [http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NGI0ZmZlMDVlMDM0MzVhNTcwNzA3MmYwYjY2NGM0Y2Q Patsy Jindal] , John Derbyshire, National Review Online, July 09, 2008] quotation|Whether or not the law as signed is unconstitutional per se, I do not know. I do know, though — as the creationist Discovery Institute that helped promote the Act also surely knows — that the Act will encourage Louisiana local school boards to unconstitutional behavior. That's what it's "meant" to do.

Some local school board will take the Act as a permit to bring religious instruction into their science classes. That will irk some parents. Those parents will sue. There will be a noisy and expensive federal lawsuit, possibly followed by further noisy and expensive appeals. The school board will inevitably lose. The property owners of that school district will take the financial hit.

The legislation has been criticised by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ["president's message" [http://www.asbmbtoday-digital.com/asbmbtoday/200808/ ASBMB Today August 2008 issue] , Gregory A. Petsko] and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, with the latter calling for its repeal. [ [http://www.vertpaleo.org/news/permalinks/2008/09/04/PRESS-RELEASE---Paleontology-society-urges-repeal-of-Louisiana-Science-Education-Act/ PRESS RELEASE - Paleontology society urges repeal of Louisiana Science Education Act] , Society of Vertebrate Paleontology]

Missouri bill

On April 1, 2008, representative Robert Wayne Cooper introduced a bill to add a "new section [into state law] relating to teacher academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding evolution" into the Missouri House of Representatives (HB2554). It would require educational authorities to "endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including such subjects as the teaching of biological and chemical evolution" and forbid them from "prohibit [ing] any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of theories of biological or chemical evolution." Previously in 2004, Cooper had introduced two unsuccessful bills (HB 911 and HB 1722) that called for equal time for intelligent design in Missouri schools. [ [http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills081/biltxt/intro/HB2554I.htm House Bill 2554] , Missouri House of Representatives] [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/MO/970_a_new_antievolution_bill_in_mi_4_4_2008.asp A new antievolution bill in Missouri] , National Center for Science Education] The St. Louis Post-Dispatch criticised the bill's stated aims as being "the latest fig leaves used by creationists in their long war against science and evolution."cite web |url=http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/editorialcommentary/story/266449137DD77B37862574360081EA96?OpenDocument |title=Tastes like . . . chicken |author= Editorial|authorlink= |coauthors= |publisher=St. Louis Post-Dispatch |date=04/27/2008 |accessdate=2008-05-20]

The bill was passed by the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education on April 30, 2008, but died when the Missouri legislative session ended on May 16, 2008. [cite web |url=http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/MO/751_missouri_antievolution_bill_di_5_19_2008.asp |title=NCSE Resource -- Missouri antievolution bill dies |date=May 19, 2008 |publisher=National Center for Science Education |accessdate=2008-05-20]

Michigan bills

On April 30 2008, a bill on "academic freedom to teach evidence regarding controversial scientific subjects" (HB 6027) was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives by representative John Moolenaar. [ [http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(qxsz4t2tanscrpjju2rynojh))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=2008-HB-6027 House Bill 6027 (2008)] , Michigan House of Representatives] On June 3, 2008, an identical bill (SB 1361) was introduced into the Michigan Senate. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/MI/248_a_second_antievolution_bill_in_6_6_2008.asp A second antievolution bill in Michigan] , National Center for Science Education]

outh Carolina bill

A bill (SB 1386) was introduced in the South Carolina Senate on May 15, 2008 by Senator Mike Fair to amend the state's education code to provide: [ [http://www.scstatehouse.net/sess117_2007-2008/bills/1386.htm SB 1386] , South Carolina Senate]

The National Center for Science Education described it as another "so-called 'academic freedom' bill aimed at undermining the teaching of evolution". [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/SC/535_antievolution_legislation_in_s_5_15_2008.asp Antievolution legislation in South Carolina] , National Center for Science Education]

Jim Foster, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, disputed the need for the bill: [ [http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080516/NEWS01/805160318/1001/NEWS01 Greenville Sen. Mike Fair seeks to open debate on teaching of evolution] , Tim Smith, Greenville Online, May 16, 2008]

The bill died in committee when the South Carolina legislature adjourned on June 5, 2008. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2008/SC/636_antievolution_legislation_in_s_6_5_2008.asp Antievolution legislation in South Carolina dies] , National Center for Science Education]

ee also

*Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns‎‎
*Critical Analysis of Evolution

References


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