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domingo, 17 de abril de 2011

7 Science-Education Battlegrounds of 2011

7 Science-Education Battlegrounds of 2011 | Wired Science |

7 Science-Education Battlegrounds of 2011

7 Science-Education Battlegrounds of 2011

Less than four months into 2011, lawmakers in seven states have proposed nine pieces of legislation designed to undermine public science education.

It's a record-breaking pace on schedule to eclipse 11 similar bills proposed in 2009.

"There's been a rising tide of not just evolution denial, but science denial all the way around," Robert Luhn of the National Center for Science Education wrote in an e-mail to "Creationists and their kin are attacking global-warming science, plate tectonics, the Big Bang and on and on."

Most of the new proposals aren't explicit attacks on the separation of church and state. Rather, they tend to emulate the Louisiana Science Education Act, an anti-science education law passed in 2008.

Such "academic freedom" measures are stuffed with agreeable language, yet contain wording that may shield instructors who bring religious doctrine into public school science classrooms. Passages that at first seem to prohibit faith-based teachings don't actually exclude the practice.

Some of this year's bills have already perished in procedural limbo, but new and harder-to-vote-down bills are likely to emerge. If passed as laws, they could lead to expensive and drawn-out legal battles while undermining science education — which, ultimately, isn't just about conveying facts, but teaching a process of applied rationality. And even if they don't pass, they create an atmosphere in which science teachers may feel reluctant to support science.

Starting with Tennessee, where an anti-evolution bill passed the state House of Representatives on April 7, we review seven of this year's science education battlegrounds.