House Bill 2713 in the Arizona Legislature will require public schools to accept students' personal religious viewpoints as answers to tests or assignments. The bill sponsor, Rep. Doug Clark of Anthem, uses the teaching of evolution as the example where students might challenge what is taught by the schools and offer their beliefs as answers.
This strikes me as similar to the situation in Kansas in 1999, which drew national and international criticism of Kansas as an intellectual backwater. There, the State Board of Education downplayed teaching evolution in part by allowing any other concept to be brought into the classroom if the teacher allowed evolution to be presented. The net effect was to intimidate teachers from bringing up the subject or risk turning over their classrooms to every body who wanted a pulpit for their views.
What will this do for Arizona students applying to college? Is that "A" in physics because they really understood quantum theory, or because they gave a cogent explanation of how the Flying Spaghetti Monster works?
The relevant section of HB2713 follows:
15-107. Rights of students at public educational institutions; limitations; remedy; definition
A. A public educational institution shall not discriminate against students or parents on the basis of a religious viewpoint or on the basis of religious expression.
B. If an assignment requires a student's viewpoint to be expressed in coursework, artwork or other written or oral assignments, A public educational institution shall not penalize or reward a student on the basis of religious content or a religious viewpoint. In such an assignment, a student's academic work that expresses a religious viewpoint shall be evaluated based on ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance.