Feb 12, 2013

Good news from Colorado! The House Committee on Education voted 7-6 on Monday to reject a creationist measure intended to undermine science education in the state.

House Bill 13-1089, the so-called “Academic Freedom Act,” would have required teachers at public schools and colleges to help students analyze the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”

Teachers would also have been required to “create an environment that encourages students to intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions and learn about scientific evidence related to” evolution, global warming and human cloning.

The measure isn’t really about global warming or human cloning, of course. And it most certainly isn’t about academic freedom either.

Spawned by the Discovery Institute, the measure is a backdoor creationist scheme intended to suggest that evolution is scientifically controversial and that students should be wary of its central place in biology.

The Discovery Institute and its allies have religious objections to evolution, and this bill is a “wedge” to get their views into the public school classroom. The federal courts have already headed off a wide variety of other schemes, so Religious Right folks are trying an “academic freedom” maneuver.

Discovery Institute staffers happily roll out a fog of misinformation to push their theocratic agenda.

According to the AP, Joshua Youngkin, Discovery’s program officer for public policy and legal affairs, said, "What this bill would do is not take evolution out of schools, or put religion in, but actually increase the teaching of evolution and get people to really inquire about it and learn as much as possible."


As my former colleague Steve Benen reported back in 2002, the Discovery Institute’s “real purpose is to undercut church-state separation and turn public schools into religious indoctrination centers.”

Nothing has changed since then. Over 10 years later, Discovery is still up to its same old tricks.

Colorado legislators have scuttled this bad bill, I’m happy to say, although the closeness of the vote is troubling. Now we just have to give the same treatment to measures in other states.