I’m offering $1000 to the first teacher in Wisconsin who (1) challenges this policy (should it be enacted) by teaching ID as science within a Wisconsin public school science curriculum (social science does not count), (2) gets him/herself fired, reprimanded, or otherwise punished in some actionable way, (3) obtains legal representation from a public interest law firm (e.g., Alliance Defense Fund), and (4) takes this to trial. I encourage others to contribute in the same way. Thank you Wisconsin.
Bill bans creationism as science
By Judith Davidoff
February 7, 2006
Creationism or intelligent design could not be taught as science in Wisconsin public schools under a first-of-its-kind proposal announced today by Madison state Rep. Terese Berceau.
Under the bill, only science capable of being tested according to scientific method could be taught as science. Faith-based theories, however, could be discussed in other contexts.
Alan Attie, a biochemistry professor at UW-Madison, said the bill puts Wisconsin on the map in the ongoing controversy over evolution and intelligent design.
“We can be the un-Kansas,” Attie said in an interview.
Kansas, Attie said, has been the object of derision since the state’s Board of Education in 2005 adopted teaching standards that support intelligent design.
“To position us in exactly the opposite direction and be the first in the nation to do it, I’m thrilled about,” Attie added.
In recent years a growing movement known as intelligent design – the idea that evolution was shaped by an intelligent creator – has challenged the teaching of evolution in public schools.
At a news conference this morning at the State Capitol, Berceau, a Democrat, was flanked by Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, and 13 top researchers from the University of Wisconsin who helped draft the legislation.
She said her bill addresses the attempts in Wisconsin and across the country to undermine science education.
“It is designed to promote good science education, and prevent the introduction of pseudo-science in the science classroom,” she said.
“It does not ban the discussion of intelligent design or any other ideology in schools in nonscientific contexts. It simply states that if something is presented as science, it must actually be science.”
No one at the Discovery Institute, the main booster of intelligent design, could be reached immediately for comment this morning.
Michael Cox, assistant chair of the biochemistry department at UW-Madison, said intelligent design is an “attempt to introduce fake science as science into the school curriculum in public schools.”
In an interview, Cox said he hopes the bill improves the atmosphere for science in the state.
“I’m personally concerned as a working scientist that science is under assault in this country in a lot of different ways,” Cox said. “I’d like to see some positive signs that the environment for science can be improved and I think this bill will do that.”
Cox and others at the news conference said it is important to support science education in order to produce sound students, keep the nation on the cutting edge of technology, and maintain a growing and strong economy.
Berceau’s bill would require that anything presented as science in the classroom be testable as a scientific hypothesis and pertain to natural, not supernatural, processes. The material would also have to be consistent with any description of science adopted by the National Academy of Sciences.
Berceau stressed in an interview that intelligent design and any other ideology could still be discussed in school in nonscientific contexts.
“You can even include it in a science class if you want to say why it’s not a science,” she said. “Otherwise it should be taught in a history of religion class or social studies or philosophy. But it’s not a science and shouldn’t be taught as a science.”
She said the bill was inspired by recent assaults on science in the nation and state.
In Grantsburg, Wis., for instance, the school district in 2004 voted to direct its science department to “teach all theories of origin.”
Grantsburg School District Superintendent Joni Burgin said today, however, that the school district has revised its policy and that it would, in fact, comply with Berceau’s bill.
“There’s no creationism, no religion,” Burgin said.
Assembly Speaker John Gard, R-Peshtigo, did not return phone calls for comment.