The National Center for Science Education reports that lawmakers in New Mexico will consider what is currently the fifth anti-evolution bill filed in state legislatures across the country. The bill in New Mexico is similar to legislation filed in that state two years ago. It would encourage instruction about “strengths and weaknesses” of “controversial” scientific topics (such as evolution and climate change) in public school science classrooms.
Creationists and other anti-science activists have tried to use the “strengths and weaknesses” strategy to promote junk science arguments in classrooms across the country, especially in Texas. The Texas Freedom Network, NCSE and other allies worked together successfully in 2009 to strip a “strengths and weaknesses” requirement from the Texas science curriculum standards.
NCSE also notes some differences between the 2009 and 2011 bills in New Mexico, including “the definition of the scientific information teachers would be allowed to present to their students about ‘controversial’ scientific topics”:
Both bills make a point of excluding information derived from religious “writings, beliefs or doctrines”; but where [the 2009 bill] provided, “‘scientific information’ may have religious or philosophical implications,” [the 2011 bill] provides, “‘[s]cientific information’ may include information that coincides or harmonizes with religious tenets” — which would appear to be intended to cover “intelligent design” creationism.
The other states currently considering anti-evolution legislation are Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma (two bills in Oklahoma). The Texas Freedom Network is on the watch should similar measures be filed in the Texas Legislature this session. Keep on eye on TFN Insider and TFN’s Legislative Watch page for updates. You can also help defend science and education in Texas by signing up for a TFN Rapid Response Team here.