Tennessee teaching cartel attacks academic freedom, free inquiry

The Tennessee House and Senate are working out differing versions of a bill promoted by Hixson state Sen. Bo Watson, a Republican, who wants the state school system to acknowledge the numerous challenges facing the theory of human evolution. He proposes that teachers be freed to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of such theories in terms of scientific data.The establishment’s uproar over his idea is remarkable in light of the claims Darwin’s disciples make about fair play and free speech.

Free speech and academic freedom are important to the enforcement arm of the educational cartel — the Tennessee Education Association. So vital is it that they have enshrined protections for same in state law, at TCA 49-5-501. The law provides lifetime job protection, with firing only for cause. “This status has long been considered a cornerstone of academic freedom,” Black’s law dictionary notes. Academic freedom is given to any teacher in the government school after five years (see TCA 49-5-504).

Tenure is an important guarantee of academic freedom, though in practice it has become plain ol’ union job protection. In the original concept, tenure implies that every teacher, whether of first graders or smart seniors, is a lifetime student and genuine lover of knowledge. It seeks to shield a person who researches issues and examines science, literature or history and comes up with a rich, textured view of a subject matter. A teacher is free to go wherever his study and research take him, even if his conclusions crash headlong into officially sanctioned views, the majority report, if you will.

SCIENTISTS WHO DEFEND the seeming monolith of evolutionary opinion issued a statement condemning Sen. Watson, a man with a biology degree, and his General Assembly colleagues, but the highlight of their statement tells less about science than about their big numbers and their consensus.

“As scientists whose research involves and is based upon evolution,” they said, “we affirm — along with the nation’s leading scientific organizations — that evolution is a central, unifying, and accepted area of science. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming, there is no scientific evidence for its supposed rivals [“creation science’ and ‘intelligent design’] and there is no scientific evidence against it.”

This statement waves at least three red flags marking the territory of a controlling party, which rules by right of might.

We won’t debate any of the substance of their so-called scientific views here.

But we will toy with our schooler friends by tossing a little firecracker through the door of their lounge. If the earth is billions of years old, how come astronauts found the depth of the dust on the moon to be only a few inches deep, versus the hundreds of yards that had been anticipated under evolutionary chronology? Maybe the creation is no more than 10,000 years old, as much evidence indicates.

Sources: Chattanooga Times Free Press, “Senate passes Watson’s bill on evolution debate,” 3/20/12; The Evolution Cruncher; Scientific Facts which Annihilate Evolutionary Theory, Vance Ferrell, Evolution Facts Inc., Altamont, Tenn.,  www.evolutionfacts.com