NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said today he “probably” will sign a controversial bill that protects teachers when they address “scientific subjects that may cause debate and disputation” including evolution and global warming.
“Nothing in the curriculum of the state of Tennessee will change and the scientific standards won’t change,” Haslam said of the bill, which has passed the House and Senate but has yet to come to the governor’s desk. “If you read through that, that part is really clear.”
The governor shrugged off concerns voiced by prominent scientists about the legislation, saying “some of the discussion about its impact is probably a bit overblown.”
Scientists, including a Tennessean who won a Nobel prize, have attacked the bill, saying it would allow faith-based theories like “creationism” and “intelligent design” into classroom discussions.
Asked if he were leaning toward signing the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, Haslam said “probably so” although he noted he hasn’t seen the final version of the bill yet.
But Haslam said he has had discussions with State Board of Education officials on “does this affect our curriculum and what we teach regarding evolution in the schools and the answer is no. Does it change the scientific standards that are the ruling criteria for what we teach in schools and the answer is no.”
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...