Legislators in Louisiana and Missouri have introduced academic freedom bills that would ensure the freedom of teachers to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of theories of biological and chemical evolution. Florida legislators introduced a similar bill recently which passed through its first committee hearing on a 4-1 vote.
In Louisiana, Sen. Ben Nevers introduced SB 561, and in Missouri Rep. Wayne Cooper has introduced HB 2554. Both bills would protect teachers’ academic freedom to teach scientific information that supports or challenges biological and chemical evolution, but expressly do not protect the teaching of religion.
“More and more states are beginning to realize how important it is to protect the rights of teachers to be able to present all of the scientific evidence when teaching biological evolution,” said Casey Luskin, Program Officer for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at Discovery Institute. “Science education is in a crisis because students are merely taught what to think, but not how to think, and these bills will help remedy that problem.”
In Missouri, Rep. Jane Cunningham has introduced a companion bill that requires institutions of higher education to “promote intellectual diversity and academic freedom.” The bill is titled the “Emily Brooker Higher Education Sunshine Act” after Missouri State University graduate student Emily Brooker, who was discriminated against because of her personal views. The bill aims to bring intellectual diversity back to university campuses by requiring them to take steps to promote ‘intellectual pluralism and students’ right to learn in an environment that exposes them to an abundance of new knowledge, different perspectives, competing ideas, and alternative claims of truth.”
“There is a nationwide pattern of universities discriminating against professors and scientists who challenge Darwinian evolution,” said Luskin. “This bill will help ensure that university students and faculty will not be discriminated against because they dissent from neo-Darwinism.”
The upcoming documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” featuring Ben Stein, tells the stories of scientists who were persecuted because they questioned Darwinism and illustrates why bills protecting those dissenting from Darwinian evolution are necessary.
“The only people who would find these bills threatening are those who would oppose an objective discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories like neo-Darwinism,” said Luskin.