Evolution Debate in New York (6/10/05)
New York: The New York Assembly introduced Bill
8036 on May 3, 2005 to amend the state education laws on evolution.
Sponsored by Daniel L. Hooker (R), the bill would require that "all
pupils in grades kindergarten through twelve in all public schools
in the state
receive instruction in both theories of intelligent
design and evolution." If enacted, the state Commissioner of
Education would provide technical assistance during the development
of appropriate curriculum "to ensure that all aspects of the
theories, along with any supportive data, are fully examined through
such course of study."
Assemblyman Hooker, a minority in the Democrat-dominated assembly,
previously sponsored a bill to allow the words of the Ten Commandments
to be displayed on historical documents. Of these bills, Hooker says,
"It's obvious that these are religious-based. But I don't think
that our government is totally devoid of religion. The Assembly opens
each and every session with a prayer ... Our own state constitution
begins with a reference to the Almighty, and that's not Dan Hooker's
Bill 8036 does not have a co-sponsor in the Assembly and therefore
most people, including Hooker himself, believe that it will die in
committee later this year. In addition, Hooker was called to active
duty in March and is serving with the Second Marine Expeditionary
Force in Iraq, so he cannot actively work on his legislation. However,
opponents to the bill are still concerned about the effects of its
introduction. Tim Gordinier, public policy director at the Albany-based
Institute for Humanist Studies, said in an article
for Times Union, "Even if the bills don't have a chance in hell
-no pun intended-of becoming law, we're still concerned that they
are great symbolic importance." New York State School Boards
Association spokesman David Ernst said, "We would be concerned
if it appeared that a religious agenda rather than an education agenda
were being pursued."
The Times Union also interviewed Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the
New York State Catholic Conference partly because Hooker is Roman
Catholic. The Conference has taken no position on Hooker's intelligent
design bill, which Poust, called "more of an evangelical issue,"
adding: "There is nothing inconsistent in evolution with the
Catholic teaching that God was the author of creation."
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Education to be reviewed
at a later date. (6/10/05)
No Previous Action(s) listed at this time.
Sources: National Center for Science Education
Contributed by Anne Smart, AGI/AIPG 2005 Summer Intern.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Last updated on June 10, 2005.