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Monday, April 7, 2008

Missouri's "Academic Freedom Act"

A state House bill that would add "a new section relating to teacher academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding evolution" was introduced last week and sponsored by Republican Representative Robert Wayne Cooper. According to the National Center for Science Education, Cooper has previously introduced two bills that called for equal time for "intelligent design" in public school classrooms, as well as one that required a "critical analysis" of evolution "be taught in a substantive amount." (All of those bills failed.) The new bill would allow teachers to help students understand "the scientific strengths and weaknesses of theories of biological and chemical evolution." School administrators, the bill states, should "create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including such subjects as the teaching of biological and chemical evolution," and "assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies." (Keep in mind that evolution is not a point of controversy or debate in the scientific community.) —Heather Wax