On Monday, the Tennessee state legislature passed legislation that requires public schools to teach the “controversy” over evolution, global warming, and human cloning:
The Senate voted 24–8 for HB368, which sponsor Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, says will provide guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects. Critics call it a “monkey bill” that promotes creationism in classrooms.
In 1925, Tennessee was the home of the Scopes monkey trial, where local jurors upheld the conviction of a biology teacher for teaching evolution in his classroom, tarring the reputation of the state. Climate denial legislation has become widespread across the United States, in part due to the efforts of the corporate-funded right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council.
The text of HB368 / SB893, sponsored by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson), requires all administrators and educators to work to teach “scientific subjects” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as “scientific controversies”:
The teaching of some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy . . . The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.
The National Association of Biology Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and all eight Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences oppose the legislation.
The bill now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam (R-TN) for his signature.
Also on Monday, a bill to permit the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings (HB2658) passed the Tennessee House by a vote of 93–9.
Tennessee has ushered in spring with a record-shattering heat wave, with temperatures 25 degrees above normal.