A second antievolution bill in Michigan


House Bill 5606 was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives on January 24, 2006, and referred to the Committee on Education, chaired by the bill's primary sponsor, Brian Palmer (R-District 36). If enacted, HB 5606 would amend the state's school code in a number of ways, including by requiring the Michigan Department of Education to adopt course content expectations for science that "include using the scientific method to critically evaluate scientific theories and using relevant scientific data to assess the validity of those theories and formulate arguments for and against those theories."

Although evolution is not mentioned in HB 5606, its language about using "the scientific method to critically evaluate scientific theories" and using "relevant scientific data to assess the validity of those theories and to formulate arguments for or against those theories" is taken verbatim from HB 5251, which specifically targets "the theories of global warming and evolution." Palmer was a cosponsor of HB 5251, as well as of 2003's HB 4946, which would have amended the state science standards to refer to "the theory that life is the result of the purposeful, intelligent design of a Creator."

Palmer was reported [Link broken] by the Detroit Free Press (January 28, 2006) as disclaiming any intention to raise the issue of "intelligent design": "I think some people like to see a bogeyman," he said. But the primary sponsor of HB 5251, Representative John Moolenaar, regarded it as relevant; the Free Press reported that in his view, "Palmer's [bill] does not require the teaching of intelligent design, but ... such a decision would be up to local school boards. He said Darwin's theory of evolution is under legitimate scrutiny, and that science students should know about the theory's possible weaknesses."

The Michigan educational community was reportedly unhappy with the bill. Margaret Trimer Hartley, spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teacher's union, told the Free Press, "We don't need to further complicate the process by bringing in the argument of intelligent design or any other battle over specific curriculum." Kathleen Booher, the executive director of the Tri-County Alliance, representing school districts in three counties, objected to the legislative attempt to micromanage curriculum: "They're stepping out of their expertise when they're doing that," Booher said.