Antiscience resolution in Indiana

01.20.2017

Indiana's Senate Resolution 17, introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development as of January 23, 2017, would, if adopted, ostensibly urge the state department of education "to reinforce support of teachers who choose to teach a diverse curriculum." But the teaching of evolution is the specific target of the bill.

That the teaching of evolution is the target of SR 17 is apparent from its preamble, which cites the so-called Santorum language from the report to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 — "Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), that the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics can generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society" — and claims, "the ACLU and like organizations agree in principle that any genuinely scientific evidence for or against any explanation of life may be taught."

The sponsors of SR 17 are Jeff Raatz (R-District 27) and Dennis Kruse (R-District 14). Both legislators have a history of antievolution activity in Indiana. Kruse sponsored three bills — HB 1356 in 2000, HB 1323 in 2001, and SB 89 in 2012 — that would have allowed local school districts to require the teaching of creation science. In 2015, Raatz and Kruse sponsored Senate Bill 562, which would have deprived administrators of the ability to prevent teachers from miseducating students about "scientific controversies." Unusually, SB 562 mentioned only human cloning by way of example. All of these bills failed to win passage.

SR 17's preamble resembles the provisions of SB 562. Speaking to the Lafayette Journal & Courier (January 20, 2015) about the latter, Raatz acknowledged that it could be called, as the reporter called it, "a back-door approach to failed attempts to chip away at state standards on teaching evolution and to bring creationism into the public school classroom."