Florida State Lawmaker Takes Heat For Bill That Would Require Teaching Of 'Non-Evolution'

Florida GOP State Senator Stephen Wise is drawing fire with a legislative proposal that would require schools in the Sunshine State to dramatically change the way evolution is addressed in the classroom, primarily by requiring the teaching of an alternative he calls "non-evolution."

According to his legislation, public school teachers would have to "teach a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution" to students.

"Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?" Wise, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said, according to the Tampa Tribune. "You have critical thinking in school," he continued, telling the outlet that he simply called his alternative "non-evolution."

Wise, who recently championed a successful push to end Florida teacher tenure in favor of a merit-pay system, has quickly received knocks for his bill.

"You can have critical analysis of everything, but the idea that you should single out evolution for critical analysis is problematic," said Joshua Rosenau of the California-based National Center for Science Education told the St. Augustine Record. "It's recognized by the scientific community as the foundation of modern biology."

Others, such as Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens for Science, have been less kind in their assessment of the measure.

It's "quite literally, an embarrassment for our state," Haught told the Tribune.

It's not the first time Wise has tried his hand at this type of legislation. In 2009, Wise mounted a failed effort more specifically focused on teaching intelligent design in public schools. Wise told the Tribune this week, however, that he believes the state Legislature's growing conservative makeup could pave a way for the bill's successful passage this time around.

During his battle then, Wise, a retired teacher himself, made his case on a radio station for including an alternative to evolution in the public school system's science curriculum.

"Why do we still have apes if we came from them?" Wise asked during an interview with the Tampa's WMNF. "And those are the kind of questions kids need to ask themselves. You know, 'How did we get here?' And, you know, there's more than one theory on this thing. And the theory is evolution, the other one is intelligent design."

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