Stephanie Simon of the Journal reports today on what Sciencebloggers already know: that the creationists have shifted their tactics from focusing on activism on local school boards to pitching their cause to state legislators:
Their new tactic: Embrace lessons on evolution. In fact, insist students deserve to learn more — including classes that probe the theory for weakness. They believe — and their opponents agree — that this approach will prove more acceptable to the public and harder to challenge in court.
Those promoting the new bills emphasize that academic freedom doesn’t mean biology teachers can read aloud from the Book of Genesis. “This doesn’t bring religion into the classroom,” said Florida state Rep. D. Alan Hays, a Republican.
The bills typically restrict lessons to “scientific” criticism of evolution, or require that critiques be presented “in an objective manner,” or approved by a local school board.
And the polling numbers don’t look good.
Here, creationists have so much power because it seems as though most people simply don’t care about the issue. In that type of situation, a well organized, loud minority group can foist its policy agenda upon the public at large.
It would be interesting to see how much these groups really are committed to the principles of academic freedom. Would they support, for instance, a bill that allowed teachers to discuss sexual health and education without parental permission? Or one that “taught the debate” that masturbation is normal and healthy? One would quickly find that these groups don’t actually like freedom in the classroom, except when it comes to their pet subject.