Creationism legislation–Tennessee ACLU update

As we discussed previously, Tennessee is doing all it can to violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution by pushing an anti-science legislation onto the public school students of the state.  They want teachers to allow discussion of the non-existent “scientific controversy” regarding the origin of life, evolution and climate change.  The only controversy is in the deluded brains of Republican legislators pushing the religious agenda of the fundamentalist Christians.   Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Tennessee ACLU update”

Creationism legislation—Tennessee Monkey Bill (update 3)

There’s been a lot of press and internet complaints about the new Tennessee anti-evolution bill that recently passed the Tennessee Senate, and passed last year in the House.  Essentially the bill encourages teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”  And I can’t say this enough, what scientific weaknesses?  The only debate that makes sense would one on the ethics of human cloning, but then again, it could be a code word for anything from stem-cell research to in vitro fertilization.

Continue reading “Creationism legislation—Tennessee Monkey Bill (update 3)”

Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (update 2)

Tennessee Senate Bill 893, which, if enacted, would encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

There are no scientific controversies about biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming or human cloning.  The only controversies exist if you add political expediency, religious faith and corporations who want to pollute without restrictions.

Unfortunately for the science side of the equation, the Tennessee House passed the bill in April 2011, so after a conference between both houses to resolve small differences in language (the Senate amended the bill), it will be sent to the Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, for final approval.  Haslam is a Republican, but has stated in the past that the State Board of Education and not the legislature who should be responsible for educational standards.  Nevertheless, even if he signs it, the state will be sued soon thereafter for violating the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, costing the Tennessee school system millions of dollars.  Undoubtedly, the legislature did not fund the bill to help school districts fight the inevitable lawsuits.

Again, it’s nice to live in an area of the United States that lacks this overt religious dominance over the body politic.  

via “Monkey bill” passes Tennessee Senate | NCSE.

Antiscience legislation updates–Oklahoma, New Hampshire and Tennessee

There’s been lots of news this week regarding anti-evolution legislation.  Republicans in various state legislatures are starting to push their religious agenda in violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution.  Remember, according to the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, teaching religion in public schools is prohibited, and numerous court rulings have clearly stated that creationism is a religious doctrine, not a scientific controversy.  These Republican legislatures are trying to push a full anti-science agenda, forcing school children to think that abiogenesis (the origin of life on Earth), global warming and evolution are somehow scientifically unsound principles.  In the real world, these is no controversy, except with regards to fine-tuning mechanisms, rather than on the broad theory.

Continue reading “Antiscience legislation updates–Oklahoma, New Hampshire and Tennessee”

Creationism legislation–Alabama (update 2)

Alabama’s House Bill 133, which would “authorize local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students”, cleared the Alabama House Education Policy Committee on February 29, 2012.  As discussed previously, this legislation is probably unconstitutional, violating the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, mainly because the school boards would be responsible for setting the curriculum.  I didn’t realize this before, but each child could have access to studies about their own religion.  So there would have to be credit given for Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian (and which sect of christianity would be taught).  And what about atheists?  I guess those kids could actually study something real, like science.  Then get the great jobs.  And discover the cure for a disease.  Then the anti-science religious student will come begging for the cure. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Alabama (update 2)”

Creationism legislation–Alabama, the Constitution update

According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), in its article Credit-for-creationism scheme unconstitutional?, the new creationist legislation being introduced into the Alabama House is probably unconstitutional.  Incredibly scandalous news.

As discussed yesterday, Alabama is trying to pass legislation that would “authorize local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students.”  In the landmark Supreme Court 1948 ruling, McCollum v. Board of Education, the court struck down a Illinois release time program as unconstitutional because of the public school system’s involement in the administration, organization and support of religious instruction classes. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Alabama, the Constitution update”

Creationism legislation–Alabama, shocking news

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is reporting that antievolution legislation has been introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives.  Alabama isn’t known for their progressive attitudes towards the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution given some past events like trying to put the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building and forcing prayer into schools.  The bill allows local school districts to give credits to students who attend religious courses. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Alabama, shocking news”

Indiana creationism bill passes Senate–Intelligent Democrats creatively amend it

This is part of a long multi-part series on the Republican state legislatures in the USA pushing religious teaching into public schools in clear violation of the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause. I’ve discussed Indiana here, here and here, so this is a small update with a bit of intelligent design (of the bill) by some Democrats. Indiana Democrats are a feisty group, and the science deniers must be annoyed by them. Continue reading “Indiana creationism bill passes Senate–Intelligent Democrats creatively amend it”

Michigan Charter School Teaching Creationism?

I am not a fan of Charter Schools for reasons that aren’t relevant to postings about skepticism and science.  One of my issues with them is that the appear to be not very well regulated.  In fact, the basic definition of charter school is that they receive public monies and less regulation as long as they produce results (usually higher standardized test scores).  The definition of a charter school, according to the National Education Association (NEA), is:

Charter schools are publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools, in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each charter school’s charter.

NEA believes that charter schools and other nontraditional public school options have the potential to facilitate education reforms and develop new and creative teaching methods that can be replicated in traditional public schools for the benefit of all children. Whether charter schools will fulfill this potential depends on how charter schools are designed and implemented, including the oversight and assistance provided by charter authorizers.

This does not give them carte blanche to violate the constitution of the United States, specifically the Establishment Clause.  A charter school in Michigan, the Byron Center Charter School, had this statement on their website (as recently as last week):

Religion
Byron Center Charter School cannot promote a certain religion, it can however, teach both creation and evolution as a theory, and use the Bible as a historical reference.

Let’s break down that sentence.  Yes, the school cannot promote a certain religion.  Several Supreme Court rulings say they can’t, so it’s good to know they understand the US Constitution.  No, they cannot teach both creation and evolution as a theory, since only evolution is a theory and creation is fairytale based on not one single bit of science.  And to use the Bible as a historical reference?  Well, there are some historical references in it, but they are infrequent, and frankly wrapped into fairytales and myths.  So, that sentence could be cut down to “Byron Center Charter School cannot promote a certain religion.”

Apparently, they have changed their website this week to remove the offensive, unconstitutional statement.  But just because they removed it from their website does not mean that they’re not teaching creationism in clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  I hope that the State of Michigan determines if they’ve been in violation of the law then shut them down.

As the NEA states, “Charter schools should be monitored on a continuing basis and should be subject to modification or closure if children or the public interest is at risk.”  The public interest has been put at risk.

Source:  Michigan Charter School Teaching Creationism? | Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Indiana creationist bill passes committee

Indiana creationist bill passes committee | NCSE.

Midwestern U.S. states are attempting to foist creationist or intelligent design teaching on their public school students, all the while trying to circumvent the Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights.

Indiana’s Senate Committee on Education and Career Development just reported out of committee by an 8-2 vote their version of a creationist bill.  The vote was strictly on party lines with 8 Republicans voting for it and 2 Democrats against it (Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Indiana Senate 3:1).  Even during the committee discussion, religious leaders spoke out against it and asserting the bill’s unconstitutionality.  I wonder if these Republican politicians understand how much it will cost in tax dollars to defend this bill in Federal Courts.  And lose in Federal Court.