Legislators in Texas are considering a bill that could make it easier for science teachers to present religious concepts alongside scientific theories like evolution.
The proposed legislation, introduced in February by Republican state Rep. Valoree Swanson, could allow public school teachers to present alternative theories to subjects that “may cause controversy,” including climate change, evolution, the origins of life and human cloning.
The bill is currently under committee review. If passed, it would go into effect for the 2017-18 academic year.
“Some teachers may be unsure of expectations concerning how to present information when controversy arises concerning a scientific subject; and the protection of a teacher’s academic freedom is necessary to enable the teacher to provide effective instruction,” HB 1485 states.
Swanson did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
The bill defines “academic freedom” as a teacher’s ability to present scientific information without discriminating in favor of or against any set of religious beliefs. It also notes that the legislation isn’t intended to promote religious doctrine.
But some Texas teachers say the bill could allow them to more easily blend science and religion in the classroom.
“I simply tell my students [that] as educated young adults they have a right ... to choose what they believe,” high school science teacher Angela Garlington told AFP.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
Providing effective instruction ought to mean teaching prevailing scientific theories about various phenomena, not perspectives for which there is either no demonstrative evidence (young earth creationism) or testable models (intelligent design). Academic freedom cannot be used as a smokescreen for teaching what any given teacher might believe. That is a disservice to the students.