We've moved!

Check out our new site at
and be sure to update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Florida Follow-Up ("Academic Freedom Act")

The House of Representatives voted 71-43 yesterday to pass an "academic freedom" bill that would require Florida public school teachers to offer a "thorough presentation and scientific critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution" in science class. (The bill has been changed significantly from the original version introduced by Republican Representative Alan Hays.) "What this bill does is tell the teacher, go ahead and teach the theory of evolution and make sure your students have a complete view of that theory and they know that it is only a theory, it is not gospel law," said Hays. Yet opponents (almost entirely Democrats) see the bill as trying to sneak religious alternatives, like creationism and "intelligent design," into the science classroom. While Hays claims the bill has nothing to do with religion, he did say that "too many people are afraid to even mention the theory of intelligent design."
But chances are now slim for the legislation. The House version of the bill has no chance, given that it calls for a mandatory "critical analysis," language the Senate has already firmly rejected. Proponents can hope that the House Republicans will be convinced to approve the Senate version of the bill (passed by a vote of 21-17 last week)—which allows teachers to "present scientific information relevant to the full range of views on biological and chemical evolution" without fear of punishment—but the legislative session ends on Friday. Governor Charlie Grist will not yet say whether he would sign the measure, if it gets that far. —Heather Wax