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NABT opposes Tennessee's "monkey bills"

The National Association of Biology Teachers expressed its opposition to Tennessee's "monkey bills" — House Bill 368 and Senate Bill 893 — in a letter to Governor Bill Haslam. The bills, which if enacted would encourage teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of "controversial" topics such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning," have passed their respective houses; it is still necessary for discrepancies between the two versions of the bill to be reconciled before the legislation is sent to the governor.

In its letter, NABT's Jaclyn Reeves-Pepin explained (PDF), "We feel that the wording of this legislation clearly allows non-scientific explanations for topics such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning to be introduced into the science classroom," adding, "Concepts like evolution and climate change should not be misrepresented as controversial or needing of special evaluation. Instead, they should be presented as scientific explanations for events and processes that are supported by experimentation, logical analysis, and evidence-based revision based on detectable and measurable data."

The letter concludes, "We respectfully request that you reject HB 368 and SB 893 in support of science education that imparts to students an understanding of science based on the key components of the scientific method and content agreed upon by scientists and professional educators. As an organization dedicated to biology education, we are confident that students of your state are best served when curriculum reflects these issues appropriately and maintains scientific integrity in the science classroom."

The NABT joins the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and all eight Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences (including Stanley Cohen, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1986) in opposing the bills.