Maybe I’m suffering from observational bias because the only legislative bills that I tend to read are creationist ones, but the authors of such bills seem to have an uncommonly poor ability to write and think coherently.
From the NCSE, this creationist bill was dismissed in New Hampshire:
House Bill 1457, introduced by Gary Hopper (R-District 7) and John Burt (R-District 7), which would have charged the state board of education to “[r]equire science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire [sic] results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.”
And here in Missouri we’ve got a great one this legislative session, which tosses around a flood of technical-sounding words without much regard to consistency or precise definition: Continue reading
Intelligent design and the oxymoronically titled creation science, despite their pretensions to being a scientifically principled opposition to one of the our most well-established scientific theories, have never been anything more than attempts to dress religion as science.
From the National Center for Science Education:
INDIANA CREATIONISM BILL PASSES THE SENATE
On January 31, 2012, the Indiana Senate voted 28-22 in favor of Senate Bill 89. As originally submitted, SB 89 provided, “The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.” On January 30, 2012, however, it was amended in the Senate to provide instead, “The governing body of a school corporation may offer instruction on various theories of the origin of life. The curriculum for the course must include theories from
multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.”
Unfortunately for the Indiana senate, this kind of non-stealth creationism legislation has a long, perfect record of complete and expensive failure in court.
I can understand the frustration, but I would probably find a different way to respond to the challenge of a fundamentalist student. Nonetheless, if students are aggressively challenging teachers with fundamentalist, anti-science claims, then teachers need room to respond. The NCSE reports:
The case originated when Corbett, a twenty-year history teacher at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, California, was accused by a student, Chad Farnan, of “repeatedly promoting hostility toward Christians in class and advocating ‘irreligion over religion’ in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause,” according to the Orange County Register (May 1, 2009). Farnan cited more than twenty offending statements of Corbett’s in his complaint.
The federal Appeals Court ruled in Corbett’s favor:
In broaching controversial issues like religion, teachers must be sensitive to students’ personal beliefs and take care not to abuse their positions of authority. … But teachers must also be given leeway to challenge students to foster critical thinking skills and develop their analytical abilities. This balance is hard to achieve, and we must be careful not to curb intellectual freedom by imposing dogmatic restrictions that chill teachers from adopting the pedagogical methods they believe are most effective. … At some point a teacher’s comments on religion might cross the line and rise to the level of unconstitutional hostility. But without any cases illuminating the “‘dimly perceive[d] . . . line[ ] of demarcation’” between permissible and impermissible discussion of religion in a college level history class [Corbett was teaching Advanced Placement European history], we cannot conclude that a reasonable teacher standing in Corbett’s shoes would have been on notice that his actions might be unconstitutional.
My theory, based on research in social psychology, is that the infighting surrounding Atheism & Skepticism is a clear indication that intelligent design/creationism is no longer a serious threat. Continue reading
An Ohio 8th-grade creationist science teacher with a habit of branding crosses on his students’ arms has been fired, after a long and tedious process and a lawsuit that cost the school district some big bucks.
The referee who evaluated the case for termination nicely summed up in one sentence (PDF) exactly what you can’t do when you’re a public school science teacher:
…He persisted in his attempts to make eighth grade science what he thought it should be – an examination of accepted scientific curriculum with the discerning eye of Christian Doctrine.