A controversial bill protecting teachers’ classroom discussions of “weaknesses” in evolution and other scientific theories became Tennessee law last week without the signature of Gov. Bill Haslam.
Mr. Haslam, a Republican, said that while he doesn’t think the bill changes scientific standards or the state’s educational curriculum, he also believes the bill could create confusion.
The legislation passed the Republican-controlled House and Senate by majorities of more than two-thirds, with a number of Democrats backing it.
Tennessee-based scientists, as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a 3,200-signature petition, urged Gov. Haslam to veto the measure.
It’s the first time he has refused to sign a bill.
In 1925, Tennessee drew national attention and ridicule when a new law that banned the teaching of evolution in public schools resulted in the arrest and trial of teacher John Scopes. It was dubbed the “Monkey Trial.” Mr. Scopes was convicted, but the conviction was overturned later on a technicality.
A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Tenn. Evolution Bill Becomes Law