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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Alabama and Michigan's "Academic Freedom" Acts

An "academic freedom" bill has been introduced into the Alabama House of Representatives by Republican Representative David Grimes, and its been sent to the Education Policy Committee. The bill would give teachers the "affirmative right and freedom to present scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views in any curricula or course of learning," but specifically singles out "biological or chemical origins," which it calls a topic that might generate controversy. (While the bill claims it has nothing to do with any religious doctrine, keep in mind that evolution is not a point of controversy or debate in the scientific community.)
In Michigan, an "academic freedom" bill was introduced into the House by Republican Representative John Moolenaar and referred to its Committee on Education. The bill labels "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, human impact of climate change, and human cloning" as "scientific controversies" and claims that teachers could better address these issues if they were allowed "to help pupils understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught." This bill also claims it has nothing to do with promoting any religious doctrine, but the National Center for Science Education points out that Moolenaar has previously co-sponsored two bills that called for the teaching of "intelligent design." —Heather Wax