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Tennessee passes a “teach the controversy” over evolution bill

Here.

The bill was approved in the House last year but now must return to that body for concurrence on a Senate amendment that made generally minor changes. One says the law applies to scientific theories that are the subject of “debate and disputation” — a phrase replacing the word “controversial” in the House version.

The measure also guarantees that teachers will not be subject to discipline for engaging students in discussion of questions they raise, though Watson said the idea is to provide guidelines so that teachers will bring the discussion back to the subjects authorized for teaching in the curriculum approved by the state Board of Education.

- Knox News, March 19, 2012

Tennessee was, of course, the home of the famous Scopes Trial, about which almost nothing was correctly reported.

For example, how many people have you ever heard clarify that Tennessee did not outlaw teaching evolution, it outlawed teaching the common ancestry of humans and primate apes in publicly funded schools? Maybe it was a stupid law, but it arose from William Jennings Bryan’s observations of European “master race” theories in the debacle of World War I. We are always in the market for better solutions to “master race” theories.

Also, how many people realize that the textbook that Scopes was teaching from (Hunter’s Civic Biology) gladly embraced eugenics? Bryan had every reason to be concerned about that kind of thing. Fortunately, no one could get a textbook like that adopted today; it would be a huge, public furore.

A good reference work for all this is Edward Larsen’s Summer for the Gods If you are a secularist, revise your list of heroes.Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion

Anyway, here’s The Tennesean,

Senators voted 24-8 to pass a bill that says schoolteachers cannot be punished for “helping students to understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories” taught in public schools.

The measure has drawn strong opposition from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Center for Science Education and the American Civil Liberties Union, which said it is cover for teachers who want to teach creationism or intelligent design. Supporters said the measure would give teachers more guidance to answer students’ questions about science

With those kinds of opponents, the bill must have something going for it. More from The Tennesean .

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