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Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Sponsor: Bill Is About Teachers, Not Creationism
By Dan Boyd
Journal Capitol Bureau
SANTA FE — Insisting he wasn't channeling creationism or targeting Charles Darwin, a veteran Albuquerque lawmaker said Tuesday that his "teacher-protection" bill has been "hijacked."
Indeed, despite the protests of Rep. Thomas Anderson, R-Albuquerque, House Bill 302 seems to have taken on a life of its own.
A full-page advertisement in Monday's Journal — paid for by a group called the Intelligent Design Network — claimed the bill would allow teachers to challenge Darwin's famous scientific research that formed the underpinnings of evolutionary biology.
Meanwhile, Anderson said he's received dozens of e-mails and phone calls regarding the bill — some of them venomous — and was invited to speak on radio talk show to discuss his intentions.
"My bill has been hijacked by people who want to talk about religious issues," Anderson said Tuesday. "That was not my intent."
Although the legislation doesn't directly mention creationism, part of the hubbub surrounding it appears to stem from the fact it hinges on the teaching of "controversial scientific topics."
The possible interpretations of that phrase — climate change, evolution and more — aren't specifically limited.
However, the measure would specifically prohibit administrators at a district or local school level from firing, reassigning or disciplining teachers who point out perceived shortcomings of scientific theories or tenets.
"All I'm trying to do is allow a teacher to exercise their First Amendment rights," Anderson said. "He shouldn't have to worry about a superintendent sending him to Timbuktu or fining him for saying something everyone doesn't agree on."
Anderson also said he wasn't aware of the advertisement and doesn't know anything about the group behind it.
The bill, which was introduced Feb. 1, still hasn't been scheduled for its initial hearing in the House Education Committee.