“Critical analysis” bill filed by Wise today

All that bluster about mandating intelligent design creationism was much ado about nothing, I guess. Today, Senator Stephen Wise filed SB 2396:

Educational Instruction; Requires that the instructional staff of a  public school teach a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the  scientific theory of evolution and certain governmental, legal, and  civic-related principles.

Intersting strategy. First of all, Wise is asking that a current law be modified. That law says:

Members of the instructional staff of the public schools, subject to the rules of the State Board of Education and the district school board, shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required to that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historic accuracy, following the prescribed courses of study, and employing approved methods of instruction, the following:

There is a long list of specific subjects that follow, such as the Declaration of Independence, flag education, history of the Holocaust, health education, study of Hispanic contributions to the United States, etc. Wise wants the following inserted right at the top of that list:

A thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.

He also wants inserted a little further down the following:

The historical context in which the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed; the purposes, functions, and limitations of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal, state, and local governments; the significance of common law, state and federal constitutional law, statutory law, procedural law, and local ordinances or codes; an understanding of important legal principles, including the rule of law, stare decisis, and the federal supremacy clause; and the duties that all citizens share in order to know and protect the rule of law.

So, what he has done here is coupled “critical analysis” of evolution with civics education in one bill.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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11 Responses to “Critical analysis” bill filed by Wise today

  1. Nolemom says:

    Everything, besides evolution, that he has listed are included within the sunshine standards for social studies. There is absolutely no need for this law and it would instead become one of the long list of special topics that the state specifically mentions for political reasons (ex. Declaration of Independence will be taught in the 3rd week of September regardless of where you actually are chronologically in a history or American Government class).

  2. PatrickHenry says:

    Strange to put so much emphasis on the Declaration, important as it is. What about the Constitution?

  3. S.Scott says:

    Hey-I agree with Wise about the need for civics lessons (in social studies classes of course)!

    The general public IMO, seems to be very ignorant regarding the 3 branches of the gov’t. Including Mr. Wise

    The first two – executive and legislative – are all about majority rule. The third, judicial, is there to keep the majority from oppressing the minority. — WoW!!! 😯

    “The framers of the Constitution, in their almost infinite wisdom, designed the legislative and executive branches under Articles I and II to be directly responsive to the public will. They designed the judiciary, under Article III, to be responsive not to the public will–in effect to be a bulwark against public will at any given time–but to be responsible to the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”

    —Judge Jones

    Yup – That is where most people get tripped up.

    Without it – women would still not be allowed to vote and blacks would still be sitting at the back of the bus, etc…

    It’s NEVER ok to draw a circle in the sand and leave even one child standing outside .

    He seems to think that if the legislature passes this rubbish that it will somehow become legit. Sorry senator, it’s unconstitutional.

    We all know it’s a shell game … we know it and he knows it.
    The difference is – he is lying about it … and we all know where liars go- right?!

    He is wasting everyones time and our resources. He needs to be worried about the statewide teachers strike that is going to happen if they try and cut salaries of the already grossly under paid.

  4. Glenn Branch says:

    Perhaps because the Declaration mentions “Nature’s God,” the “Creator,” and “divine Providence,” while the Constitution’s language is resolutely non-religious.

  5. Karl says:

    Interesting as it may be, this strategy is nothing original. Politicians have been doing this for quite some time, tacking riders which may face enormous opposition by itself onto larger and possibly more important bills for easier passage. This is just a variation of the same. If anything, this only illustrates Wise’s own lack of faith in pushing an anti-evolution-only bill. Remember all that huffing and posturing several weeks ago where Wise was practically welcoming the inevitable legal challenge? Now he decides to be sneaky, hoping no one will notice. Here’s to hoping that this bill gets tanked hard and fast.

  6. MaryB says:

    Just from a teaching standpoint this bill mandates that certain things be taught before veterans day, but does not say what grade level. Does this mandate that it be taught k-8 before labor day? What does it mean? I find all its mandates very confusing. Will committees just swallow this whole? I would think that critics could tear this apart for all its vague mandates.

  7. PatrickHenry says:

    You’re right, Glenn, but the Declaration — although a splendid document, isn’t the law.

  8. dave campbell says:

    This is part of a continuing trend. Focus on the Family’s James Dobson was interviewed on Faux news a couple of weeks ago and quoted the, “…endowed by their Creator…” line from the “Constitution” in an attempt to support the inherently Christian nature of our government. His interviewer obviously noticed the erroneous citation (body language is wonderful) but kept his mouth shut. Creationists have been doing that a lot lately, quoting the Declaration of Independence to support their theocratic goals. PatrickHenry is (as usual) right. Great document, beautiful language, lofty ideals, and absolutely NO legal standing in the courts. It’s bad enough these people don’t understand basic biology. They can’t even cite (correctly) the nation’s foundation documents.

  9. PatrickHenry says:

    Dave Campbell is right. “Family values” groups do that a lot. I once objected when someone did that, so he switched to a fallback position. He claimed that the Declaration was a “preamble” to the Constitution and thus a guide to its interpretation.

    I responded that if he wanted to play the preamble game, which has no legal or historical basis, then the Declaration was a preamble to the Articles the Articles of Confederation, drafted at the same time (but by a different committee). The Constitution came more than a decade later, superseded the Articles, and has its own preamble. The Federalist Papers don’t even mention the Declaration. Well, once in #40, in an irrelevant footnote.

    All of that is in addition to the obvious Deism of the Declaration — “Nature’s God” and all that. The “endowed by their Creator” line is lovely, but it’s not the law, and those who argue otherwise should be corrected at every opportunity.

    Addendum: The Articles of Confederation has its own preamble, which is quite secular. It does say, however, after the substantive provisions and just before the signatures: “And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us …” So make of that what you will.

  10. Karl says:

    In the remote chance that this awful piece of legislative garbage gets passed, I suppose one could really zing Wise with it by focusing on the secular nature of Thomas Jefferson’s original words in the Declaration:

    All men are created equal and independent. From that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable.

    One could also note the fact that many of its most prominent signers explicitly identified themselves as NOT Christian, never intended/were against the creation of an exclusively Christian nation, and some, like Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams, were also vocally critical of Christian doctrine and practices.

    Someone should ask Wise if coverage of these historical facts would be included in his little anti-evolution/Declaration bill.

  11. Kevin F. says:

    I’ll bite. Sure I’ll take the Senator’s version with the following scientific adjustments.

    Educational Instruction; Requires that the instructional staff of a public school teach a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution, based on the scientific method, independently verified evidence and hypothesis-driven inquiry, and certain governmental, legal, and civic-related principles.

    If you keep it as science there is no room for the supernatural, and if you maintain it as evidence based and hypothesis driven then it eliminates the B.S.

    Simple to those that understand it. Probably tough for Senators.

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