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Indiana senator seeks 'truth in education' law

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Almost a year after their last debate, lawmakers will again take up how the origins of humanity are taught in Indiana's classrooms.

Senate Education Committee chairman Dennis Kruse said he would not introduce a creationism measure again this year, choosing a lighter tack instead. His new proposal, he said, would encourage students to question a broad range of topics in the classroom.

"I would refer to it as truth in education, so students could question what teachers are teaching them and try to make sure it's true what they're teaching," Kruse said.

Kruse led an effort during the 2012 session to allow teaching of creationism. He said Tuesday the new proposal doesn't specify that religion should be taught or evolution questioned and said he is waiting on a draft from the state's legislative services agency.

In Tennessee, lawmakers approved such a measure — over the governor's objections — which encourages teachers and students to dissect science broadly, stretching beyond topics like evolution to others, including climate change and stem cell research. Opponents of it dubbed it the "monkey bill," in reference to the landmark Scopes Monkey Trial a century earlier.

Josh Youngkin, program officer for public policy and legal affairs for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, is helping Kruse and lawmakers in other states promote the measure.

"It frees teachers to teach both sides of scientific controversies in an objective fashion," said Youngkin, noting that students could press teachers to present facts and evidence for statements about issues like the shared origins of mammals.

"The teacher would not be barred from saying 'Let's look at both sides of the evidence and you guys can basically make a judgment,' rather than just accepting passively or memorizing by rote these facts and stating back these arguments on a test which would eventually determine where you go to college," he said.

Youngkin said he met with Kruse earlier this year and advised the senator to approach the measure as an "academic freedom" proposal. He cited a 1987 Supreme Court decision that found teaching creationism on a parallel footing with evolution constituted a violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause.

Opponents of the last session's creationism proposal amended it to incorporated origin-of-life theories from multiple religions.

House Speaker Brian Bosma shelved the bill, saying it appeared unconstitutional and could land the state in costly and lengthy legal battles.

Creationism would clearly land the state in court, but it's hard to tell exactly what Kruse's proposal would do without seeing the actual bill language, said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana. He testified against the creationism measure last year.

"Creationism is not science. The Supreme Court has held the argument that the world was created in seven days is not science; it's religion," Falk said. "Evolution is scientific fact. Teachers can certainly say other people have certain beliefs, but they cannot be taught as fact."

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  • allahu akbar
    Under Sharia law and the Qur’an God took "six ayums" to create the "seven heavens and earth" in a literal 24 hours. Anything outside of this is an abomination
  • Thanks, Kruse!
    Dennis Kruse is one of the reasons I'm hopeful the GOP Supermajority will be ended in 2014. These guys just can't stop themselves from trying to advance their pet causes no matter how stupid. Look for more of this kind of worthless legislation during the next two years. Hopefully, Hoosier voters will wise up by then and send Kruse and his ilk packing.
  • havaryc the
    Idiots should not be allowed to waste time promoting religious beliefs in the legislature. Hopefully this misguided man will decide to camp in Illinois as has been the tactic of our legislature in the past. Please run to Illinois and pout and make it permanent.
  • What a waste of time!
    We should not be surprised that this idiot is allowed to waste the legislature's valuable time promoting his religious beliefs. Hopefully if he does not get his way, he will go camp in Illinois as was done before. Permanently if we are lucky
  • Unbelievable
    I am so NOT proud to be from Dekalb county where Mr. Kruse resides. What a silly proposal.
  • Penalties for Frivolous Bills
    Just as the courts have adopted penalties for waging frivolous lawsuits - may we please remove neanderthal representatives who waste taxpayer $$ waging ridiculous, unnecessary and embarrassing legislative gibberish?
  • Focus boys.....
    Can we vote to opt out of representation......it would be much less costly and harmful to society!

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