Year 3, Month 4, Day 15: Harper Valley PTA

Neela Banerjee writes in the LA Times about Tennessee’s embarrassing new legislation, which is eagerly awaiting its gubernatorial flourish before slime-spattering students throughout the state:

WASHINGTON — Tennessee is poised to adopt a law that would allow public schoolteachers to challenge climate change and evolution in their classrooms without fear of sanction, according to educators and civil libertarians in the state.

Passed by the state Legislature and awaiting Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature, the measure is likely to stoke growing concerns among science teachers around the country that teaching climate science is becoming the same kind of classroom and community flash point as evolution. If it becomes law, Tennessee will become the second state, after Louisiana, to allow the teaching of alternatives to accepted science on climate change.

The Tennessee measure does not require the teaching of alternatives to scientific theories of evolution, climate change, human cloning and “the chemical origins of life.” Instead, the legislation would prevent school administrators from reining in teachers who expound on alternative hypotheses to those topics.

The measure’s primary sponsor, Republican state Sen. Bo Watson, said it was meant to give teachers the clarity and security to discuss alternative ideas to evolution and climate change that students may have picked up at home and want to explore in class.

Morons. Sorry — that should be Morans; my bad. Sent April 7:

When contemporary conservatives want schools to “teach the controversy,” it’s a sure bet they’re referring to controversies they’ve created themselves. Tennessee’s new legislation is an excellent example of this; the notion that science teachers are somehow restricted by requiring them to actually teach science is a fabrication of the evangelical subset of American conservatism.

The arguments within climatology concern the details of feedback and forcing mechanisms in Earth’s environment, and what they portend for the future of the planet and its inhabitants; the human causes of global warming are as fully settled as the basic processes of Darwinian evolution. Assertions to the contrary are either mendacious or ignorant; probably both.

But what the hell — let’s teach the controversy: is Marxist economics valid? Is the Earth flat? Does your astrological sign influence your life? Is Elvis alive? Is Paul dead? Is there really a Flying Spaghetti Monster? Welcome to school.

Warren Senders

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