The United States Senate recently passed an Elementary and Secondary Education Act with a “sense of the Senate” amendment (see below). This bill now goes to a conference committee to be reconciled with the education bill previously approved by the US House of Representatives.1
Proposed by Pennsylvanian Senator Rick Santorum, the amendment reads:
It is the sense of the Senate that (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and
(2 ) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why the subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Massachusetts) said about the amendment, “We want children to be able to speak and examine various scientific theories on the basis of all of the information that is available to them so they can talk about different concepts and do it intelligently.”2
Several evolutionists, however, are concerned that the bill suggests “evolution” is a controversial issue. Some evolutionary biologists are planning an opposition campaign. “We’ll do our letter-writing to senators. We’d like to see it die in conference committee,” said Wayne Carley, executive director of the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT).3
The amendment was added on June 13, 2001, and the bill was voted on by the Senate on June 14, 2001 (a 91-8 vote), and is now in conference committee.
Note For US citizens:
To contact your Congressman to express your support of the Senate version of the Education bill that states that evolution is controversial, write to the US House of Representatives at:
Rep._______________(name of your representative here-if you need the spelling of his/her name, go to www.house.gov/ and click “House directory” on the home page), US House of Representatives, Washington DC 20515
For the Senate, write to:
Office of Senator__________(name here-if you need the spelling of his/her name, go to www.senate.gov/ and click on “List Senators by state” on the home page), US Senate, Washington DC 20510.
If you go to the House or Senate Web sites, note the other ways to reach your Congressmen by phone or e-mail.
*A conference committee is a joint committee comprised of members of both parts of the US Congress--the Senate and House of Representatives-where Senators and Representatives attempt to conjoin their two different versions of a bill that each has passed. The amendment in question was added to the Senate version of the Education bill.