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New Law May Turn the Clock Back in Tennessee
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On Tuesday, Governor Bill Haslam allowed a bill to become law by refusing to sign or veto it. Explaining his reasons for such a course of action Haslam said, “I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum … I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything …”

The concerned bill, called “the Monkey Bill” by critics, seeks to remove bars on discussing theories of creationism or other matters like global warming from science classes. While teachers may not launch discussions on such subjects, the bill, now law, would allow discussions in classrooms if questions were raised by students. Subjects like alternative theories on evolution would also be allowed.

Critics are comparing the bill to the famous “Monkey Trial” of 1925 when a Tennessee teacher was accused of violating state law by teaching gradual evolution of life against the creationist theory. Only now it’s the other way around. In a curriculum that bans discussion of creationism or global warming; the new law would allow students to question and discuss the role of God in evolution.

  
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Jerry Winters, director of government relations for the Tennessee Education Association, told the media that “With all the emphasis now on science, math and technology, this seems like a real step backwards … Tennessee was the focus of this debate in the 1920s and we don’t need to be turning the clock back now.”

“The Scopes Monkey Trial” was fought between defense lawyer Clarence Darrow and prosecutor William Jennings Bryan over the rights of teacher John Scope’s right to teach Darwinism in violation of state law. Scopes was found guilty but acquitted in the Supreme Court.

Many groups have opposed the bill including the American Civil Liberties Union and the state teachers’ union.

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Governor Haslam had earlier said that he would sign the bill, but a slew of protests made him back off from signing the bill, but allowing it to become law without vetoing it. Of course, the veto could have been overruled by a simple majority in the legislature.





 

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