NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued the following statement on HB 368/SB 893:
“I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact. I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers. However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.
“The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin, but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature.”
Teachers, Principals and School Personnel - As introduced, protects a teacher from discipline for teaching scientific subjects in an objective manner. - Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10.
This bill prohibits the state board of education and any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or principal or administrator from prohibiting any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught, such as evolution and global warming. This bill also requires such persons and entities to endeavor to:
(1) Create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues; and
(2) Assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.
ON MARCH 19, THE SENATE SUBSTITUTED HOUSE BILL 368 FOR SENATE BILL 893, ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1, AND PASSED HOUSE BILL 368, AS AMENDED.
AMENDMENT #1 clarifies that the bill would apply to scientific subjects and science courses "taught under the curriculum framework developed by the state board of education." This amendment requires the department of education to notify all directors of schools of the provisions of the bill by "the start of the 2012 - 2013 school term", instead of by "the start of the 2011 - 2012 school term".