It's a sneaky bill. It doesn't specifically talk about creationism or intelligent design, but we can read between the lines.
House Bill 183 "Emphasize critical thinking in science education" talks all around the issue.
From the bill title: "An act encouraging the Board of Public Education to emphasize critical thinking in instruction related to controversial scientific theories on the origin of life; clarifying the duty of the Board of Public Education to include the basic instructional program in the Board's standards of accreditation; encouraging teachers to foster critical thinking; protecting teachers who present alternative viewpoints regarding controversial scientific theories..." (Emphasis added.)
What we're talking about here is an attempt to protect teachers who teach creationism instead of or along with evolution. That's unconstitutional and violates pages and pages of established case law.
As we explain in our guide "Protecting Religious Liberty in Public Schools: A School Official's Guide," creationism, intelligent design and other "creation science" theories cannot be taught alongside evolution. Doing so violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment which prohibits government from endorsing religion. A public school teacher who instructs students on creationism is doing just that -- endorsing a religious viewpoint.
Don't take our word for it. Check out these cases:
Edwards v. Aguillard: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required evolution instruction be accompanied by teaching "creation science." The court found the "pre-eminent purpose of the Louisiana Legislature was clearly to advance the religious viewpoint that a supernatural being created humankind."
Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District: In this 2005 case a federal court ruled that intelligent design is a religious view and not science, stating that intelligent design "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."
Peloza v. Capistrano Unified School District: In this case, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared that a public high school biology teacher did not have a free speech right or academic freedom right to deny the theory of evolution or to discuss his personal religious views in science class.
House Bill 183 flies in the face of these court rulings and is clearly unconstitutional. It should be tabled.
Our schedule for today:
House Business Committee 9 a.m. Room 172
- HB 186 Require losing party to pay costs
House Education Committee 3 p.m. Room 137
- HB 183 Emphasize critical thinking in science education
Hearings and floor sessions can be accessed online.