With the new legislative session beginning in most states around the country, this is the time that we see creationist bills crop up all over the place. Colorado has one (HB 13-1089), disguised, as many of them are, as a bill to boost “academic freedom” — but only about subjects where they think the textbooks and the scientific consensus are wrong.
The bill creates an “Academic Freedom Act” (act) for both K-12 public schools and institutions of higher education in the state of Colorado (act). The provisions of the acts direct teachers to create an environment that encourages students to intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions and learn about scientific evidence related to biological and chemical evolution, global warming, and human cloning.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the bill just happens to require “academic freedom” on those ideas on which they think the scientists have it completely wrong. Because if they were actually interested in “academic freedom” and wanting students to “intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions,” wouldn’t that apply to all scientific questions? The text of the bill uses creationist codephrases about teaching the “controversy” and teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific ideas they don’t like.
THE EDUCATIONAL AUTHORITIES IN COLORADO SHALL ALSO ENDEAVOR TO ASSIST TEACHERS TO FIND MORE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PRESENT SCIENCE CURRICULUM WHERE IT ADDRESSES SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSIES. TOWARD THIS END, PUBLIC SCHOOL AUTHORITIES AND ADMINISTRATORS MUST PERMIT TEACHERS TO HELP STUDENTS UNDERSTAND, ANALYZE, CRITIQUE, AND REVIEW IN AN OBJECTIVE MANNER THE SCIENTIFIC STRENGTHS AND SCIENTIFIC WEAKNESSES OF EXISTING SCIENTIFIC THEORIES COVERED IN A GIVEN COURSE.
And of course, helping them to do that will require that they use supplemental materials from the Discovery Institute and other creationist organizations to show purported “weaknesses” in the theory of evolution. Those handouts will contain claims from the creationist jokebook that have long been debunked.