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Third 2005 Antievolution Bill Introduced in Alabama


by Nick Matzke

A third antievolution bill was introduced to the Alabama State Legislature late in the 2005 legislative session. On April 5, 2005, Rep. Scott Beason (R-St. Clair, Shelby) introduced House Bill 716. The bill is dubbed the "Academic Freedom Act" and is a near-copy of a previous pair of antievolution bills (HB352, SB240) introduced in February 2005. Those bills were themselves copies of antievolution legislation introduced in 2004. The 2004 bills were passed out of committee in both houses, but they died on the floor when the 2004 legislative session expired.

After its introduction, HB 716 was referred to the Education Committee, and according to Alabama Citizens for Science Education president Bob Collins, a hearing on the bill has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 20, at 1 p.m. This information is not listed on the Alabama Legislature website, which may indicate that special efforts are being made to advance the bill.

This bill is the eleventh antievolution bill to be promoted in a state legislature in 2005. Like many recent antievolution bills, it shares the so-called Santorum language, singles out evolution as "controversial," and protects the teaching of allegedly scientific "alternative views."

For more details on HB716 bill history and progress, visit Alabama's legislative information website, click "bills", then "search", then "keyword", and then search for "HB716". The full text of HB716 is reproduced below.

Alabamans concerned about this legislation who wish to be put in touch with Bob Collins and Alabama Citizens for Science Education are encouraged to contact Nick Matzke (matzkeATncseweb.org)

Links

Alabama's legislative information website

Alabama House Committees

Alabama Citizens for Science Education

HB716
74603-1
By Representative Beason
RFD: Education
First Read: 05-APR-05
Page 1

SYNOPSIS: Existing law does not expressly provide a right to, nor does it expressly protect, tenure and employment for a public school teacher or a teacher at an institution of higher education for presenting scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views. In addition, students are not expressly provided a right to a position on scientific views. This bill would expressly provide rights and protection for teachers and students concerning their position on scientific views.

A BILL
TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT

Providing teacher rights and protection for a public school teacher or teacher at an institution of higher education to present scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views in applicable curricula or in a course of learning; providing employment and tenure protection and protection against discrimination for any public school teacher or teacher at a public institution of higher education related to the presentation of such information; and providing student protection for subscribing to a particular position on scientific views.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. This law shall be know as the "Academic Freedom Act."

Section 2. The Legislature finds that existing law does not expressly protect the right of teachers identified by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories. The Legislature further finds that existing law does not expressly protect the right of students to hold positions regarding scientific views. It is the intent of the Legislature that this act expressly protects those rights.

Section 3. Every K-12 public school teacher or teacher or instructor in any two-year or four-year public institution of higher education, or in any graduate or adult program thereof, in the State of Alabama, shall have the affirmative right and freedom to present scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views in any curricula or course of learning.

Section 4. No K-12 public school teacher or teacher or instructor in any two-year or four-year public institution of higher education, or in any graduate or adult program thereof, in the State of Alabama, shall be terminated, disciplined, denied tenure, or otherwise discriminated against for presenting scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views in any curricula or course of learning, provided, with respect to K-12 teachers, the Alabama course of study for science has been taught as appropriate to the grade and subject assignment.

Section 5. Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of course materials, but no student, in any public school or institution of higher education, shall be penalized in any way because he or she may subscribe to a particular position on scientific views.

Section 6. The rights and privileges contained in this act apply when topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological or chemical origins. Nothing in this act shall be construed as requiring or encouraging any change in the state curriculum standards in K-12 public schools, nor shall any provision of this act be construed as prescribing the curricular content of any course in any two-year or four-year public institution of higher education in the state.

Section 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed as promoting any religious doctrine, promoting discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promoting discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

Section 8. This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.