There is a growing attempt by those who believe evolution and climate change are heresies to allow students to challenge teachers who teach these scientific facts. Tennessee passed an “academic freedom” bill earlier this year, Louisiana passed one in 2008, and now an Indiana legislator wants to bring the concept to his state.
State Senator Dennis Kruse states that this isn’t about creationism. It will allow students to challenge anything that a teacher presents in a classroom.
“Students can actually question things and have teachers then do what they can to find research and sources if what they’re teaching is true,” Kruse said.
Hold it. Isn’t that what textbooks are for? Teachers almost uniformly teach from a textbook or at least have one on hand to back up what they are saying. If the issue of evolution comes up, flipping the page to fossils and natural selection should be enough to support that the teacher isn’t just spouting off some crazy concept akin to humanity being descendants from the occupants of a crashed UFO or so.
Students already question teachers. A law isn’t needed to promote that. That’s why the implementation of a law to require teachers to provide proof for their statements is burdensome. It is never going to satisfy a student or that student’s parents because there is no arbiter to weigh if the evidence is strong enough. It makes science rest solely on personal beliefs. If that worked, everyone could imagine that by flapping their arms flight would be possible, and we could get rid of the carbon footprints of airplanes.
Despite Kruse’s claims that this bill isn’t about evolution, it is. Last year, Kruse pushed a bill that would mandate the incorporation of creationism into school curriculums. It didn’t get to a vote so Kruse has decided to evolve his bill to allow students to challenge anything taught in a classroom.
After all, when it comes down to what a sixteen-year-old high school junior believes or a college-educated teacher using textbooks backed by massive, peer-reviewed scientific research, the edge has to be given to the well of deep knowledge possessed by the sixteen-year-old. At least that is how Kruse’s brain works.
Kruse’s bill is far more dangerous than just the usual anti-evolution bill. It doesn’t just allow a student to demand proof of scientific theories from a teacher. That is absurd in itself. It also opens the door for crazy conspiracists to question basic knowledge of history or current events.
Imagine a little Orly Taitz questioning references to Barack Obama as president because he really was born in Kenya. How about doubters who deny that men walked on the moon? It gives a forum to anti-Semites or white supremacists who may demand proof that the Holocaust happened or that black people are equal to whites.
If Kruse really wants to develop thinking skills, he should amend his bill to improve school debating clubs instead of giving students the right to disrupt valuable class time with this nonsense.
Science is never seen as bogus when someone hops on an airplane, fixes a car engine, or throws a ball while watching it fall back to earth. Evolution and climate went through the same rigorous review as proving the truth of germ theory did. Yet the twenty-first century equivalent of the geocentric belief that the sun revolves around the earth permeates the minds of people like Kruse.
Laws of this type will only impair education and make it harder for the U.S. to keep abreast of other nations in science education. This legislation is not just obstructionist to teaching but to thinking. Without presenting a shred of evidence to promote creationism and other fable-like theories, a teacher is going to be forced to scramble to support school-endorsed curriculum instead of moving on to new topics and learning.
Nate Schnellenberger, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, explained the colossal waste of time inherent in Kruse’s bill.
“I think we’ve got more important things to worry about than that. It’s just another thing to add to the myriad of hoops teachers have to jump through now that take away from actual instruction.”
Exactly, but that’s the point behind Kruse’s bill. He wants to keep students ignorant while his like-minded friends pick and choose what the truth should be.