Creationists’ new legistlative maneuvering: state “Academic Freedom” acts

//www.evolutionnews.org/2008/04/darwinist_objections_to_louisi.htmlThe latest wave of anti-bioscience activity in the legislative arenas in several states is the Introduction of “Academic Freedom” bills, such as the one introduced in Louisiana recently (and discussed by Casey Luskin at the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News and Views blog (with the illustration posted here at right).

The “Louisiana Academic Freedom Act” declares its purposes as follows:

  • to provide that no public elementary or secondary school governing authority, superintendent, administrator, or principal shall prohibit any teacher from discussing certain scientific evidence;
  • to prohibit certain content-based censorship;
  • to provide for notice of such to local school systems and employees; and
  • to provide for related matters.

Or, as Luskin quotes from the operative text:

The language of the bill simply states that

teachers shall be permitted 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.

The only people who would find such language threatening are those who would oppose an objective discussion of the scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories like neo-Darwinism.

[Luskin’s emphases]

As usual, the purpose of this legislation is to substitute the creationists’ idea of “scientific” in place of what is “scientific” as pertains to the natural science disciplines such as Biology, in the repeated use of the language that I’m highlighting here in red:

The language of the bill simply states that

teachers shall be permitted 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.

The only people who would find such language threatening are those who would oppose an objective discussion of the scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories like neo-Darwinism.

Here’s the Discovery Institute page for their “Academic Freedom Petition,” with their draft legislation that has been copied, with various degrees of modification, by legislatures in a number of states, including Louisiana.

Ed Brayton comments on this Louisiana bill, comparing it with the one in Florida (where it was introduced at an event featuring Ben Stein of Expelled ), while The Bad Idea Blog discusses Louisiana and Florida along with Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama. and maybe Minnesota.

This link should open the curricublog category archive with other posts on these “Academic Freedom” bills.

2 Comments

  1. Posted April 6, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    As I noted, I really don’t see Minnesota’s bill as slipping into the same territory as the others. It doesn’t single out evolution or even biology, and it also at least provides some language that suggests that considerations of merit (“serious scholarly opinion”). Presumably that would allow governing boards to at least require some evidence of merit and serious publication support on behalf of a view before a professor can lecture on the merits of timecubism.

  2. Posted April 6, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Bad (of The Bad Idea Blog) commented:

    As I noted, I really don’t see Minnesota’s bill as slipping into the same territory as the others. It doesn’t single out evolution or even biology, and it also at least provides some language that suggests that considerations of merit (”serious scholarly opinion”). Presumably that would allow governing boards to at least require some evidence of merit and serious publication support on behalf of a view before a professor can lecture on the merits of timecubism.

    Of course you’re right, Bad.

    To me, the bigger difference is that the Minnesota bill is not concerned with K-12 schools at all, but only Higher Education.

    Still, the injection of that bill into the discussion raises the question of the relationship between the K-12 legislation and the David Horowitz-inspired college students’ “Bills of Rights.”

    In both cases, the schools and colleges would claim they already have ways of ensuring proper education. University departments and disciplines do have ways of dealing with wayward instructors.

    What these laws would do is to shift the legal burdens of who can do what and how. Probably the greater effect is simply intimidation — especially at the K-12 level.

    The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is having a much harder time disposing of a petition from the Creation Science Institute for accreditation (hence, licensing of science teachers) for their distance education degree in “science education,” because of a Supreme Court decision limiting their power to interfere with theology curricula. This is the kind of environmental influence, if you will, that I think we’re dealing with here.

    Anyway, Thanks for your post!


9 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. […] I only want to point out how the situation promised by the anti-evolutionists’ “Academic Freedom” legislation (part of the “strengths and weaknesses” campaign that includes the Texas textbook […]

  3. […] by the Discovery Institute as a tactic for anti-evolution teaching in the public schools, this legislation in Louisiana is sure to accelerate the movement for similar legislation in other […]

  4. […] here’s the text, as posted by John West at Discovery Institute (sponsors of this campaign across the nation).  AN […]

  5. […] Institute (DI), which has been a driving force behind the Louisiana statute in particular, and the wider campaign promoting laws like this across the […]

  6. […] more, see the post on Creationists’ new legistlative maneuvering: state “Academic Freedom” acts,  and the Category archives for Intellectual and Academic Freedom. This entry was written by […]

  7. […] Although this is supposed to be a blog about curriculum (not just a blog dedicated to controversy over the teaching of biology), I must point out the implications of Haynes’ point for the varying forms of anti-evolution teaching promoted in Texas, and in Louisiana & other states where the Discovery Institute’s “Academic Freedom” le…. […]

  8. […] of “theories of life origins and environmental theories” indicates support for the kind of anti-evolution legislation that has just passed in Louisiana, and now awaits signature by the Governor who, despite having […]

  9. […] bill is patterned after the Discovery Institute’s so-called “Academic Freedom” strategy, which legislators in several states have attempted to implement in recent years. This strategy has […]

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