I think it's time we have a little pool and see just how many anti-evolution legislations will be put forth in 2011. Odds are it will be the usual suspects and so far we have five! Kentucky, Missouri, two bills in Oklahoma, and a new one in New Mexico.
In Kentucky we have the same State Representative, Tim Moore, making another stab. He failed in 2009. His last bill might have been a little too specific because it seems he's watered it down a bit. He formerly specified evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning as examples of scientific theories for which supplementary instructional materials would be used. This new bill just specifies that supplemental materials can allow teachers to "use, as permitted by the local school board, other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner." So Creationists are nothing if not adaptable. His last effort died in committee, so I guess trying to make it sound less anti-science might make it more successful. Between the Creation 'Museum' and the upcoming Noah's Ark Theme Park, doesn't Kentucky have enough on it's plate? (Here is a link on the bill: Antievolution legislation in Kentucky)
Over in Missouri the faces have changed, but the message has not. The previous anti-evolution legislator reached the end of his term limits after failing a number of times to get anti-evolution laws in place. So it's a new crowd, but apparently the text of the bill has only changed slightly from last year's attempt. Instead of a long-winded disclaimer, they shortened it to one a lot like the disclaimer in the Louisiana anti-evolution act. And we know how successful that disclaimer has been to actual avoid the introduction of religiously motivated material into the curriculum -- seeing as how the group responsible for implementing the new policy is ignoring it. (Here is a link to that one: Antievolution legislation in Missouri).
They have certainly been busy in Oklahoma. I mean after all their whining about Richard Dawkins giving a presentation in their state, how foolish do they wish to appear to the rest of the world? Apparently very foolish. They are following Texas by pushing for some of the changes that made Don McLeroy a former member of the Texas State School Board. Funny -- usually Oklahoma and Texas cannot agree on much of anything, so I am surprised as their willingness to follow Texas down the same path. (Link for the first anti-evolution bill in Oklahoma is here: Antievolution legislation in Oklahoma). What I also find interesting is the motivation of the bill's sponsor, State Representative Josh Brecheen, who announced not only his opposition to evolution, but that 'creationism presented as scientifically credible'. (http://www.durantdemocrat.com/view/full_story/10717736/article-Brecheen-discusses-evolution-and-Darwinian-Theory and http://www.durantdemocrat.com/view/full_story/10776295/article-Brecheen-says-the-religion-of-evolution-is-plagued-with-falsehoods) It some ways it's slightly refreshing to have one openly admit their religious motivations, well refreshing and still disturbing.
Another perennial favorite in Oklahoma is State Representative Sally Kern . She's been in the limelight before, even sponsored two bills in 2006. (Here is the link on this one: A second antievolution bill in Oklahoma) Oklahoma has been through a lot recently, including significant economic upheavals. My question to you Oklahomans out there is why do you keep re-electing the same folks who keep trying to drag you back to the 19th century? Also after watching all the drama that Texas went through, are they a valid role model?
And now the latest, New Mexico. Not only does it pretty much parrot the very unsuccessful 'strengths and weaknesses' arguments attempted in other states, it really pushes the envelope to protect teachers. I have nothing against protecting teachers, but when the bill specifically states
"may include information that coincides or harmonizes with religious tenets",just what are they protecting teacher from? New Mexico already has laws protecting teachers who teach controversial subjects. The protection in this law seems to be specifically for teachers who teach religious topics (like Intelligent Design and Creationism) as if they were scientific subjects. That's against the Constitution! (Link here: Antievolution Legilation in New Mexico).
So, how many antievolution bills will we see this year? We haven't heard from Florida or South Carolina this year. Ohio has been silent on the subject since voting out Deborah Owens Fink a couple of years back. Kansas also hasn't chimed in. Well, for what it's worth -- my vote in the pool is 12! I think we will see 7 more bills in 2011. The southern states are lacking, so my guess is several there. Colorado maybe? How about Michigan? I am sure some other state representatives are swilling from the Discovery Institute trough and planning to try yet again. I am also very thankful that the majority of these bills seem to die off in committee, which shows just how popular they tend to be amongst the other legislators. Let's also hope the voters remember who keeps dragging them back into this non-scientific waste of taxpayers money debates, the same way Kansas, Ohio, and Texas did when they removed some of the more vocal anti-science members from their school boards!