Alabama

06.05.2015

Alabama's House Bill 592 (PDF) died in committee in the Alabama House of Representatives on June 4, 2015, when the legislative session ended. The bill would have encouraged teachers and students to "debate the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution in public schools across Alabama," reported the Anniston Star (May 7, 2015).

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05.08.2015

"Teachers and students could soon find themselves free to debate the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution in public schools across Alabama if a bill introduced to the House this month becomes law," reported the Anniston Star (May 7, 2015), referring to House Bill 592 (PDF).

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05.06.2015

House Bill 592 (PDF), introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives on April 30, 2015, and referred to the House Committee on Education Policy, would undermine the integrity of science education in the state by encouraging science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach whatever they pleased while preventing responsible educational authorities from intervening. Topics identified in the bill as likely to "cause debate and disputation" are "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, and human cloning."

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Alabama state coat of arms, 1876

In 1995, the governor of Alabama, Fob James, spoke before the state board of education, which was then considering a proposal to insert a disclaimer about evolution in all biology textbooks used in the state. In The Creationists (2006), Ronald L. Numbers primly writes, “The Republican governor, Fob James, who presided over the board, strongly backed the disclaimer, saying that he personally believed the biblical account of the origin of life to be true.” Randy Moore, Mark Decker, and Sehoya H. Cotner’s Chronology of the Evolution–Creationism Controversy (2009) is a little more vivid, writing, “During an appearance before the Alabama State Board of Education, Forrest Hood ‘Fob’ James ... ridicules evolution by slowly crossing the stage, beginning in a crouch and then ending erect.” By these accounts, it seems that historians have taken the speech in stride.

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The issue of whether Sherlock Holmes is science literate led to some fascinating discussion in the comments section, though not, I fear, to a consensus. But let’s turn to a matter closer to my own heart and examine what we can learn about someone’s science literacy based on whether they reject evolution.

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05.17.2012

When the last day of the regular legislative session of the Alabama legislature ended on May 16, 2012, a bill that would have established a credit-for-creationism scheme died.

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03.01.2012

Alabama's House Bill 133 — which would, if enacted, "authorize local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students" — was passed by the House Education Policy Committee on February 29, 2012, according to the Birmingham News (February 29, 2012).

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02.17.2012

Alabama's House Bill 133 — which would, if enacted, "authorize local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students" — was introduced at the behest of a former teacher who was "fired in 1980 for reading the Bible and teaching creationism at Spring Garden Elementary School when parents of the public school sixth-grade students objected and he refused to stop," the Birmingham News (February 17, 2012) reports.

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02.16.2012

A leading authority on the law of religious liberty regards Alabama's House Bill 133 — which would, if enacted, "authorize local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students" — as unconstitutional.

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02.15.2012

A bill introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives would allow local boards of education to award credit for religious instruction — and its sponsor says that it is intended as a vehicle for teaching creationism.

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