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Bills Die When Legislature Adjourns

When the Minnesota legislature adjourned on May 16 two bills based on the "Santorum amendment" to the federal No Child Left Behind education act finally died. House File 2003 and Senate File 1714 were companion bills, identical in language, introduced early in the year. Each was referred to the appropriate education committee, but neither made any further progress through the legislature during the remainder of the 2004 session.

In closely following the "Santorum" language, the bills singled out evolution within the sciences for designation as controversial and implied that there are scientific views opposing the concept of evolution. In the last few years opponents of evolution education have cited the original "Santorum amendment" and proposals derived from it as justification for weakening or questioning coverage of this subject in public school curricula.

The full text of H.F. 2003:

A bill for an act relating to education; authorizing school districts to teach students to understand full range of scientific views; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 120B.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
Section 1. [120B.025] [SCIENCE CURRICULUM.]
Notwithstanding any rule or law to the contrary, when science academic standards are taught that may generate controversy, including biological evolution, the curriculum must help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society. A quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science.