The reason that we teach math and science in our schools is not so much to ensure that children can divine the area of a circle or to comprehend molecular structure as it is to develop intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills. These are attributes that will last a lifetime and play an important role in a person's social, intellectual and career development.
March 16, 2012: Just one day of educational insanity in Tennessee, New Hampshire and Oklahoma (via National Center for Science Education):
The American Institute of Biological Sciences denounced Tennessee's "monkey bills" — House Bill 368 and Senate Bill 893 — as "bad for science, science education, and the future economic health of well being of Tennessee" in letters sent to the leadership of the Tennessee General Assembly and to Governor Bill Haslam.
"It is important to note that there is no scientific controversy about the legitimacy of evolution or global climate change," the letters explained, adding, "These scientific concepts have repeatedly been tested and grown stronger with each evaluation. Any controversy around these concepts is political, not scientific."
All eight Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences — including a Nobel laureate — have signed a statement expressing their firm opposition to House Bill 368 and Senate Bill 893. Both bills, if enacted, would encourage teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of "controversial" topics such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." HB 368 was passed in April 7, 2011, but SB 893 was stalled in committee until March 14, 2012, when the Senate Education Committee passed a slightly amended version. The scientists object to the misdescription of evolution as scientifically controversial . . .
Evolution-as-theory Bill Defeated in New Hampshire
"A bill that would have required public schools to teach evolution as a theory, a move often used by proponents of creationism to discredit the science of evolution, was handily shot down by the House of Representatives Thursday, 280-7," the Nashua Telegraph (March 16, 2012) reports. The bill was House Bill 1148, introduced by Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17), which would have charged the state board of education to "[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists' political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism."
Oklahoma's House Bill 1551 — one of two bills attacking the teaching of evolution and of climate change active in the Oklahoma legislature during 2012 — passed the House of Representatives on a 56-12 vote on March 15, 2012. If enacted, HB 1551 would encourage teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of "controversial" topics such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." The bill was originally introduced in 2011 by Sally Kern (R-District 84), a persistent sponsor of antievolution legislation in the Sooner State; although it was rejected by the House Common Education Committee in 2011, it resurfaced in 2012 under the sponsorship of Gus Blackwell (R-District 61), and a slightly amended version was passed by the committee in February 2012.