For politicians only with time to read summaries, HB 2554 misleadingly was introduced as a bill that "Protects teacher academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding biological and chemical evolution."
But, if enacted, according to the California-based National Center for Science Education, language in the bill would call on state and local education administrators to "endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including such subjects as the teaching of biological and chemical evolution," and to "endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies."
"Toward this end," the bill continues, "teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of theories of biological and chemical evolution."
In 2004 Cooper introduced two bills, HB 911 and HB 1722, that called for equal time for "intelligent design" in Missouri's schools. HB 911 moreover would have provided that "Willful neglect of any elementary or secondary school superintendent, principal, or teacher to observe and carry out the requirements of this section shall be cause for termination of his or her contract," a draconian provision, the center says, that was absent from HB 1722. Both bills failed.
In 2006, Cooper introduced a third bill, HB 1266, which would have provided that "If a theory or hypothesis of biological origins is taught, a critical analysis of such theory or hypothesis shall be taught in a substantive amount." Like HB 911 and HB 1722, HB 1266 ultimately failed, although it passed by a 7-6 vote by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.
For the text of HB 2554, go here.
And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Missouri, go here.