Update, February 4, 2013. NCSE has just reported that the Colorado bill has failed to make it out of committee. First in the nation, for this year at least! Unhappily, the vote was 7-6, which is entirely too close for comfort.
January is barely gone, the groundhog may or may not have seen his shadow, and the National Center for Science Education reports that already 8 anti-science bills have been filed in 6 states: Colorado, Missouri (two bills), Montana, Oklahoma (two bills), Arizona, and Indiana.
As Barbara Forrest notes, “Creationists never give up.” The bills have been carefully sanitized, but all will allow teachers to teach the purported strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, most commonly “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” According to NCSE, the bills are also generally “protective” in that they forbid state and local authorities to prohibit such teaching. The bills pretend to foster debate, but the language is clearly code words for creationism.
The Daily Kos, incidentally, credits (if that is the right word) the American Legislative Exchange Council for planting at least three of the bills. In an article on The Revisionaries (which we reviewed here), the Boulder Daily Camera credits the Discovery Institute – not that ALEC and the DI are mutually exclusive. The DI’s Casey Luskin told the Camera, “The Academic Freedom bills must not be construed to represent religion. The language of the bill expressly does not permit the promotion of religion in the classroom.”
We reported here that the Colorado bill is probably dead on arrival; perhaps readers can report on the other bills. It may be a long year, but NCSE notes that, in the last decade, only 2 out of 40 bills have actually been enacted: Louisiana in 2008 and Tennessee in 2012. Barbara Forrest attributes the bills to the 2005 Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial in which the judge declared teaching intelligent-design creationism in the public schools to be unconstitutional. Although always keeping their eyes on the prize, creationists are now pushing academic freedom and teaching the “controversy,” but not – God forbid – religion.