We’ve been writing about this stuff for quite a while, but we’ve never seen anything like this. We learned about it from our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), who posted this news item: “Controversial issues” legislation in Arizona, written by Glenn Branch.
As you recall, there was a lot of creationist craziness in that state last year, but ultimately things worked out okay — see Arizona Adopts Rational Science Standards. Now, however, the madness is starting again. Here are some excerpts from NCSE’s article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Arizona’House Bill 2002, which would prohibit teachers from a stand on “any side of a controversial issue,” would apparently affect science education.
The purpose of the thing is very difficult to figure out. This is what NCSE says about it:
If enacted, the bill would require the state board of education to adopt rules that “prohibit teachers in taxpayer-supported schools from engaging in political, ideological[,] or religious advocacy in their classrooms.” In particular, teachers would be forbidden to “advocate in a partisan manner for any side of a controversial issue. To ensure that students have the resources to make independent decisions on these issues, a teacher must provide students with materials supporting both sides of the controversy and present those views in a fair-minded and non-partisan manner.“
Wow! That covers a lot of ground, but it certainly includes creationism and the Discoveroids’ Teach the Controversy campaign. It could also apply to flat Earth, astrology, slavery, or anything else. Oh, wait — an issue has to qualify for inclusion in the bill. NCSE says:
What issues are deemed controversial? HB 2002 specifies, “For the purposes of this section, ‘controversial issue’ means an issue that is a point in a political party platform at the local, state[,] or federal level.”
That’s what the bill says. If an issue is in the platform of a political party, it’s “controversial.” NCSE tells us:
As NCSE’s Glenn Branch observed in a series of blog posts in 2014, it is not unusual for state political parties to take a stand on evolution and supposed alternatives to it in their platforms, and the same is true of climate change. If the bill were enacted, then, it would provide a route to pressure teachers to use antievolution and/or climate change denial material in their classrooms.
Yes, of course, but the potential madness wouldn’t stop there. We assume that “an issue that is a point in a political party platform” could refer to any political party. Take a look at Wikipedia’s List of political parties in the United States. Besides the major parties, there are also parties that advocate white nationalism, black nationalism, communism, Nazism, pacifism, etc. And who knows what else may be out there that isn’t on that list? So if this thing becomes law in Arizona, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in their schools.
This is the rest of NCSE’s article:
HB 2002 was prefiled on December 14, 2018, by Mark Finchem (R-District 11); Arizona’s legislature convenes on January 14, 2019.
And they’re scheduled to adjourn in late April, so there’s plenty of time for chaos. Here’s a link where you can track the progress of Finchem’s bill: Bill History for HB2002.
And here’s the legislature’s page for Mark Finchem. It has no personal information about him, but we found him in Wikipedia: Mark Finchem. He has an unusual background: retired cop, then he was in the software business, then a real estate broker.
That’s all we’ve got on this, dear reader. We can’t figure the thing out, but if it becomes law, we predict absolute chaos in Arizona’s schools. Nothing to do now but watch what happens.
Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.