Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tennessee Law Boosts Science Standards

A new Tennessee law protects science teachers who choose to discuss the controversies surrounding climate change and evolution. The law, called the Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act, went into effect in April this year. It states that: Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school ... shall prohibit 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 existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught."

The law does not require teachers to teach alternatives to evolution. Instead, it assures that teachers who do discuss alternate theories will be protected from possible legal repercussions. The opponents of this law are crying that the new law will allow teachers to bring religion into the classroom. The usual anti-religion organizations such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee claimed that this law is unconstitutional. ** Both groups warned ominously that the law exposes the schools to lawsuits, and the Wall Street Journal reported that the ACLU is "certainly ready to pursue litigation."

Supporters of this law, such as Family Action of Tennessee, deny that the law will bring religion into the classroom and ruin science education. However, the law does not allow the teaching of creation science or intelligent design. The bill specifically states that the information discussed must be "scientific" and must relate to scientific theories that are "required to be taught" by the state. This law seems a good way to deal with some of the unscientific ideas that are taught in public schools today. Ask your state legislators to pass a similar bill.

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