Tennessee Passes Law Allowing Creationism, Climate Denial to be Taught in Classroom

He's carrying the torch for something, all right. JoelK75 via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Hey, remember that law that would encourage teachers to introduce "alternate hypotheses" to evolution and climate change in the classroom? The one that was a product of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lets corporations pen "model bills" and hand them over to state congressmen?

Tennessee passed it. And it has just become law. Despite myriad protestations from the likes of the state's Science Teachers Association, concerned parents, and the ACLU, public school teachers will now have license to teach students a great mishmash of nonscientific nonsense—all the while passing off intelligent design, creationism, or the notion that the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is not warming the planet, as credible.

The governor, while expressing some tepid "misgivings" about the bill—and neglecting to grace it with his signature—has allowed it to become law.

The LA Times reports that the "measure's primary sponsor, Republican state Sen. Bo Watson, said it was meant to give teachers the clarity and security to discuss alternative ideas to evolution and climate change that students may have picked up at home and want to explore in class."

Which might sound innocent enough. But giving teachers an incentive to teach psuedoscience, to inject dubious "alternate hypotheses" to bedrock science into school curricula, could have a pernicious effect on students' general education.

Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists remarked that the law would "limit their ability to understand the world around them by exposing them to misinformation." Science isn't a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, after all. Meanwhile, the law empowers ideologically driven teachers to promulgate nonscientific ideas that suit their politics in a classroom setting.

Joe Romm is pissed:

"I suppose this is some form of natural selection, then, as Tennessee encourages the disinforming of its kids in two of the most important areas they will need to thrive in the 21st century — thrive economically in a world of global competitors who don’t teach anti-science disinformation to their kids and, of course, thrive literally in a world where a livable climate is being destroyed by man-made global warming and a man-made disinformation campaign to delay action."
Equally worrying in the shorter-term is the mode by which the Tennessee law was passed; the ALEC model legislation that forms its foundation lives on. And now, having been proven successful (the bill passed the state legislature with ease) its backers may seek to export the evolution/climate science-convoluting bill to new horizons.

So keep your eyes out. A brand new bill bringing climate denial and intelligent design into the classroom may be coming to a state near you.

Tags: Global Warming Science | Tennessee