The campaign of disinformation has continued on House Bill 368, Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act, however we did find one very articulate, informative and straight forward piece by Casey Luskin at “Evolutionnews.org,” Tennessee House Passes Academic Freedom Bill by 70-23 Vote, and is available to read in full Here. We have pasted a few of the more important points below but encourage you to read it in entirety.
I was interviewed for the story and explained to the reporter why it is incorrect for critics to claim this bill allows the teaching of intelligent design or creationism.
As regards creationism, I explained that multiple courts have found that creationism is a religious viewpoint and illegal to teach in public schools. Since the bill does not protect the teaching of religion, critics are wrong to claim that creationism could come under the law. As the bill plainly states:
This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.
As regards intelligent design (ID), which is obviously different from creationism, I also explained why ID does not come under the bill. The Tennessee Academic Freedom Bill is worded such that it only intends to protect instruction regarding topics that are already part of the curriculum. As bill states:
Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.
As seen, the bill only protects instruction concerning “existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.” Evolution is part of the curriculum in every school district in every state, including Tennessee, and is covered in every high school biology course. Thus evolution comes under the bill, and when teachers teach evolution they can teach it objectively.
On the other hand, intelligent design is not presently part of the curriculum in any school district, including Tennessee, and is not covered in any biology classes in Tennessee. Thus ID does not come under the bill.
The bill only protects topics that are already covered in the curriculum, and it does not protect teachers that introduce entirely new theories that aren’t already part of the course curriculum. But if a theory is already covered in the curriculum, as is the case with evolution, then teachers are protected if they choose to teach the both scientific strengths and weaknesses.
In sum, if a topic is already part of the curriculum (e.g. evolution), the bill allows a teacher to cover it objectively. If it isn’t (e.g. ID), then the bill provides no protections.