Antiscience legislation in Alabama

House Bill 592 (PDF), introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives on April 30, 2015, and referred to the House Committee on Education Policy, would undermine the integrity of science education in the state by encouraging science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach whatever they pleased while preventing responsible educational authorities from intervening. Topics identified in the bill as likely to "cause debate and disputation" are "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, and human cloning."

Modeled on Tennessee's "Monkey Law" enacted in 2012, HB 592 would require state and local educational authorities to "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum framework developed by the State Board of Education as it addresses scientific subjects that may cause debate and disputation"; it would prevent such authorities from prohibiting "any teacher of a public school from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of all existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught within the curriculum framework developed by the State Board of Education."

The bill's lead sponsor is Mack Butler (R-District 30), who, discussing a different bill of his with Alabama.com (January 21, 2015), commented, "It takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution." Except for a failed bill to establish a credit-for-creationism scheme in 2012, HB 592 is the first antiscience bill in the Alabama legislature since 2009, when HB 300, the last in a long string of "academic freedom" bills in Alabama, failed to win passage. The legislature will be in session for only eleven more days before adjourning.

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