ANTISCIENCE LEGISLATION IN ALABAMA
House Bill 592, introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives on April 30, 2015, and referred to the House Committee on Education Policy, would undermine the integrity of science education in the state by encouraging science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach whatever anything they pleased and prevent responsible educational authorities from intervening. Topics identified in the bill as likely to “cause debate and disputation” are “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, and human cloning.”
Modeled on Tennessee’s “Monkey Law” enacted in 2012, HB 592 would require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum framework developed by the State Board of Education as it addresses scientific subjects that may cause debate and disputation”; it would prevent such authorities from prohibiting “any teacher of a public school from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of all existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught within the curriculum framework developed by the State Board of Education.”
The bill’s lead sponsor is Mack Butler (R-District 30), who, discussing a different bill of his with Alabama.com (January 21, 2015), commented, “It takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution.” Except for a failed bill to establish a credit-for-creationism scheme in 2012, HB 592 is the first antiscience bill in the Alabama legislature since 2009, when HB 300, the last in a long string of “academic freedom” bills in Alabama, failed to win passage. The legislature will be in session for only eleven more days before adjourning.
For Alabama’s House Bill 592 (PDF), visit:
For the Alabama.com story, visit:
And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Alabama, visit:
CREATIONISM CONTINUES IN BRITISH FAITH SCHOOLS
“Creationism is still taught in dozens of faith schools [in the United Kingdom] despite Government threats to withdraw their funding,” reports the Telegraph (May 2, 2015), describing the results of a recent investigation by the British Humanist Association.
In September 2014, the Department of Education instituted a ban on the state funding of nurseries (for children 2-4) that promote extremist views. Although the main target of the ban were “nurseries linked to radical mosques or run by Islamic hardliners,” the Telegraph (August 7, 2014) noted, “Nurseries that teach creationism as scientific fact will be ineligible for taxpayer funding, under the new rules.”
Before the ban was instituted, the British Humanist Association identified ninety-one schools of concern. Subsequently, in January 2015, the BHA sent freedom of information requests to local authorities to ascertain whether those schools were still receiving state funds. Only fourteen of the ninety-one schools in fact lost their funding. Fifty-one schools still receiving funding were regarded as likely to be teaching creationism.
The BHA’s Pavan Dhaliwal told the Telegraph, “It is hugely disappointing … to discover that creationist schools have continued to receive state funds since the ban on their doing so came into force” and called on the Department of Education to address the situation.
For the May 2, 2015, story in the Telegraph, visit:
For the British Humanist Association’s press release about its investigation, visit:
For the August 7, 2014, story in the Telegraph, visit:
And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events outside the United States, visit:
CALIFORNIA STATE PTA RAISES ITS VOICE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION
California State PTA adopted a resolution on climate change and climate change education—entitled “Climate Change is a Children’s Issue”—at its annual convention in Sacramento, California, on May 2, 2015.
Observing that there is broad scientific consensus on climate change and the role of human activity in causing global warming, the resolution calls for the California State PTA to “urge its units, councils and districts to educate parents on the impact of climate change on children’s health and future welfare” and for school districts to “educate students on climate and energy literacy and human sustainability.”
NCSE’s Minda Berbeco spoke in favor of the resolution, saying, “It is the mission of the California PTA to positively impact the lives of all children and families. By passing this resolution, we are telling our children, their teachers, and their schools that we, as their parents and guardians, are here for them, to support them as they learn how to navigate the challenges ahead and protect their future. I can’t imagine a more important positive impact.”
California State PTA involves nearly one million Californians who support the education and well-being of children in the state. The resolution will be submitted to the National PTA for its consideration.
For the draft text of the resolution (PDF), visit:
And for Voices for Climate Change Education, visit:
Thanks for reading. And don’t forget to visit NCSE’s website— http://ncse.com — where you can always find the latest news on evolution and climate education and threats to them.
National Center for Science Education, Inc.