Tennessee teacher law could boost creationism over evolution in state schools

April 13, 2012

A new Tennessee law protects teachers who explore the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of evolution and climate change, a move science education advocates say could make it easier for creationism and global warming denial to enter U.S. classrooms.

The measure, which became law Tuesday, made Tennessee the second state, after Louisiana, to enable teachers to more easily teach alternative theories to the widely accepted scientific concepts of evolution and human-caused climate change. At least five other states considered similar legislation this year.

The heart of the law is protection for teachers who “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.”

Science education advocates say this leaves latitude for teachers to bring in material on creationism or climate change denial, which they consider unsound science.

The law was billed as a triumph of academic freedom by proponents of creationism or intelligent design, who reject the concept that human beings and other life forms evolved through random mutation and natural selection.

But Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists saw a risk to education: “We need to keep kids’ curiosity about science alive and not limit their ability to understand the world around them by exposing them to misinformation.”

Tennessee’s action came 87 years after the 1925 “monkey trial” in which John Thomas Scopes was tried for teaching evolution in Tennessee.

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5 comments

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This is sad step backward for Tennessee.

Posted by weisschr | Report as abusive

THIS will really help prepare our children to take a lead role in the global economy… not! Is our educational system not bad enough? Do we really have to make it worse? I really worry for the future of this nation – once our kids are no longer being well educated, and the jobs in science, math, engineering, and technology move even father afield – what will be left? Working for minimum wage (if that is not yet abolished) for a corporation who no longer is required to provide any benefits (contract employees and a 1099 form) and existing in poverty – after the last bits of safety net have been shredded in the name of deficit reduction??

The current creep of religion into public schools and public policy truly horrifies me. I have no desire to live in a theocracy – it doesn’t matter whose theology, Christian or Muslim, or any other. Religious fanatics, no matter their stripe, are one of the biggest dangers to the stability and sanity of any society.

Posted by MidwestVoice | Report as abusive

I am afraid that Brebda Ekwurzel is the mis informed. Are you aware that the efidence for God is so much more overwhelming than your “theroy” of evolution? Lets take for example the striations in rock formations it is impossible that those happened over millions of years rather in a few short months evidence of the global fload. Now lets take evolution in to account lets say that there was one instance of a organism changing or mutating over time, which is like a one in a trillion chance. That wold have to have happend billions of times to gain what we now see as the earth. Science sights evidence of continental drift where large land masses moved from where originally located hmm more evidence of a world wide fload. How about evolution so we came from apes if that is so then why do apes still exist according to science “theroy” because of survial of the fittest or “evolution” that would have had to happen too two apes simultaniously for the end result to be two “identical” species that would then be able to continue on and eventually mate and procreate. The probabilities of all you suggest are not 1 in a trillion they are impossible. I could write a book of the ingnorance of your “Theroy” system but thats all it is “Theroy” nothing has ever been proven. Now global warming science itself suggests a an ice age 10,000 years ago i don’t belive there were cars presnt at the time you call it a natural climate shift. Hmm seems to be what we are going through now the earth is more than capable of breathing and clenasing the earths air. There are more trees today than ever “look it up” with the plant a tree campaings we are better off then ever. Why is the accuring events not also seen as a natural climate change? I lived in central New Mexico for five yaers in a place where when I arrived it was lush and fertile then the climate shifted and it became a barren waste land. Quit filling society with your lies. To give teachers the power to more educate with true information is empowering. It only serves to put your time, money, and jobs 0n the line. I know how it works you work through grants from government and other if this country changes its policy you are out of a job one that pays too much and is a needless drain on this economy.

Posted by dustin1 | Report as abusive

Wow dustin1, I’m convinced that you are either being sarcastic, or else you have never set foot in a school. One in a trillion chance!? Mind citing your sources please, I’d enjoy to read up on the experiment that established that figure. I don’t know how people can actually become so convinced like you, you’d never listen to anything logical anyway.

Posted by Rick14 | Report as abusive

Santa Claus, come save the world!

Posted by sic | Report as abusive