Robert Wayne Cooper, a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives, has proposed a bill that would require school administrators to “assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies.”
What scientific controversies, you may ask? According to the bill, this would include “the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution.”
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE), an organization promoting the teaching of evolution in schools, reports on this bill in an article which also gives some background into previous attempts to attack evolution in Missouri. The frustrating thing is that lawmakers are getting craftier in wording such bills. On the surface, the current bill doesn’t sound that bad. According to the proposed legislation,
Teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution.
Helping students to apply critical thinking in their learning is normally a laudable goal. But what purpose could Rep. Cooper have in mind by singling out evolution in his bill besides a veiled attempt to support the teaching of intelligent design / biblical creationism as an alternative to evolution? Especially in light of his previous efforts to legistlate in the matter, including a 2004 bill which would have mandated “equal time” for evolution and intelligent design, according to the NCSE article. That bill also stipulated that:
Willful neglect of any elementary or secondary school superintendent, principal, or teacher to observe and carry out the requirements of this section shall be cause for termination of his or her contract.
I’m not the first to point out the irony that attempts to slip creationism into the classroom have been “evolving”, but it is both frustrating and worrisome that some government officials are still trying to sneak religion into our classrooms.