Evolution Targeted in Classrooms

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A new round of education legislation in several U.S. states has stirred controversy in recent months, especially among people who defend teaching evolution in public schools.

Nine bills concerning teaching evolution in science classes from seven states have been introduced this year already, as highlighted by Dave Mosher of Wired.com.

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Here’s a breakdown of the bills as well as where they are in the legislative process.

  • In Tennessee, tensions ran high earlier this month as state house and senate bills 893 and 368 navigated their way through the legislature. Collectively referred to as the “monkey bill,” the pieces of legislation call for “critical thinking” among students and protection of teachers who want to explore alternative theories of evolution, presumably creationism and intelligent design. Currently, the legislation seems to be on hold, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
  • Missouri’s House Bill 195 calls for more “academic freedom” to criticize scientific controversies.The bill awaits being assigned to committee.
  • Florida Senate Bill 1854 includes a critical analysis of the theory of evolution and is still in committee at this time.

Over the past few years, the language used in bills concerning the teaching of evolution in public schools has become more vague, most likely to avoid controversial terms and expand coverage for non-scientific theories, critics say. Others argue that bills abuse the term “academic freedom” similar to years past, which protects teachers’ and students’ rights to study alternatives to evolution in the classroom.

The problem, argued by opponents of the bills, is that non-scientific explanations don’t deserve consideration in a science classroom when matched up with evolution — a scientifically proven concept.

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Most recently, a group of 42 Nobel laureates has supported recent efforts to overturn the Louisiana Science Education Act, which encourages high school teachers to introduce creationism into the classroom if they please, according to New Scientist.

Is there a reason we’re seeing a spike in antievolution bills? What do you think? Should evolution be questioned in public schools?

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