Alabama, 2004 - HB 391

State: Alabama Date introduced: February 12, 2004 Main sponsor: Rep. Carns Bill Number: HB 391 Bill Title: Academic Freedom Act Current Status: Indefinitely postponed in House; legislative session ended

The first "academic freedom" act proposed, and a basis for the Discovery Institute model legislation. See also SB 336.

 

As Introduced: SYNOPSIS: Existing law does not expressly provide a right nor does it expressly protect tenure and employment for a public school teacher or teacher at an institution of higher education for presenting scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative positions in curricula being taught or in a course of learning on the subject of origins. This bill would expressly provide those rights and protections. This bill would also expressly provide that a public school student or student at an institution of higher education may not be penalized for subscribing to a particular position on origins if the student demonstrates acceptable understanding of course materials. A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT Providing for teacher rights and protections for the presentation of scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative positions on the subject of origins in applicable curricula or in a course of learning; and providing student protection for subscribing to a particular position on origins.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. (a) This section shall be known as the "Academic Freedom Act." (b) The Legislature expressly finds: (1) The purpose of education includes to teach and fully inform students about the various subjects presented to them at every educational level, and to fully and completely present to students all information on a given subject so that students may be not only fully informed, but also taught to seek and acquire all information necessary for critical thinking.

(2) Not all subjects consist of positions fully agreed upon by the academic community, but there exists various points of view, interpretations of evidence, and theoretical positions.

(3) The study of all material or resources applicable to a given subject or area of study, including review and dissection of points of view, theories, and discrete information and evidence, will lead students, at every level, to critical thinking.

(4) Critical thinking will not only lead to new discoveries, scientific and societal progress, medical, environmental, and other advances, but is also necessary to preserve democratic society.

(5) In order for students to be fully educated and develop the capacity for such critical thinking, it is necessary that teachers and instructors at every level of education be given the affirmative right to present scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information to students without fear of penalty or reprimand. Similarly, students should have a right to subscribe to a position without fear of penalty.

(6) There has been an extensive debate on the subject of origins, the origins of life and matter, including, among other issues, the questions of how the universe came into existence, when did life begin, and from where did man come. Further, while there are predominate resources that address these questions with the position of evolution, there are many other resources that provide alternative positions. Perhaps, students will consider no other subject that will require as much study and critical thinking as the subject of origins.

(7) There are constitutional requirements that include, among other things, the necessity of laws having secular purposes, not promoting or inhibiting religion, not causing entanglement with religion, and not endorsing religion. The Legislature further recognizes that some of the points of view, evidence, or theories on the subject of origins may reflect reference to some religious, theological, or philosophical belief, but it is not the purpose of the Legislature to promote any religious, theological, or philosophical belief in any way. Specifically, the Legislature does not intend by this section to authorize, require, or permit the teaching of any religion or religious principle or tenet. The Legislature's purpose is to provide public school students and students in the institutions of higher learning the proper basis of education regardless of any religious, theological, or philosophical implication. Further, it is not the purpose of the Legislature to require any public school student or student in any institution of higher learning to accept or deny the truth of any religious, theological, or philosophical belief, but simply to be permitted to have made available to them all information necessary for proper learning and critical thinking. (c) 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, shall have the affirmative right and freedom to present scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative theories or points of view on the subject of origins in any curricula or course of learning. (d) 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, shall be terminated, disciplined, denied tenure, or otherwise discriminated against for presenting scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative theories or points of view on the subject of origins in any curricula or course of learning. e) No student in any public school or two-year or four-year public institution of higher education, or in any graduate or adult program thereof, shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on origins, so long as the student demonstrates acceptable understanding of course materials. Section 2. 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.

As passed by the Senate:

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, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative positions on the subject of biological or physical origins 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 scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative positions on the subject of biological or physical origins in applicable curricula or in a course of learning; and providing student protection for subscribing to a particular position on biological or physical origins.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA: Section 1. This law shall be known as the "Academic Freedom Act." Section 2. 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, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative theories or points of view on the subject of biological or physical origins in any curricula or course of learning. Section 3. 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, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative theories or points of view on the subject of biological or physical origins in any curricula or course of learning. Section 4. No student in any public school or institution shall be penalized in any way because he or she may subscribe to a particular position on biological or physical origins, so long as he or she demonstrates acceptable understanding of course materials. Section 5. The rights and privileges contained in this act do not apply unless the subject of biological or physical origins is raised in the context of approved curricula material. Section 6. The rights and privileges contained in this act do not apply to the presentation of theoretical information unless it is accompanied by scientific, historical, or evidentiary information. Section 7. 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.

As amended by the House: Existing law does not expressly provide a right nor does it expressly protect tenure and employment for a public school teacher or teacher at an institution of higher education for presenting scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views concerning biological or physical origins. In addition, students are not expressly provided a right to a position on biological or physical origins. This bill would expressly provide rights and protection for teachers and students concerning their position on biological or physical origins. 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 concerning biological or physical origins 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 biological or physical origins. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. This law shall be known 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 theories of biological or physical origins. It is the intent of the Legislature that this act expressly protect 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 concerning biological or physical origins 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 concerning biological or physical origins in any curricula or course of learning.

Section 5. Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of course materials, but no public school or institution shall be penalized because he or she may subscribe to a particular biological or physical origins.

Section 6. The rights and privileges contained in this act apply when the subject of biological or physical origins is part of the curriculum. 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.

Library Resource Type: 
States: