Santorum Amendment

From: Dick Fischer (
Date: Mon Jun 18 2001 - 12:17:26 EDT

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    Here is Amendment 799 on Bill S1, on June
    links to the debate and the vote (YEAs 91; NAYs 8; Not Voting 1).

    Sen. Santorum's introduction of the amendment was as follows:

    Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise to talk about my amendment which will
    be voted on in roughly 40 minutes. This is an amendment that is a sense of
    the Senate. It is a sense of the Senate that deals with the subject of
    intellectual freedom with respect to the teaching of science in the
    classroom, in primary and secondary education. It is a sense of the Senate
    that does not try to dictate curriculum to anybody; quite the contrary, it
    says there should be freedom to discuss and air good scientific debate
    within the classroom. In fact, students will do better and will learn more
    if there is this intellectual freedom to discuss.

    I will read this sense of the Senate. It is simply two sentences--frankly,
    two rather innocuous sentences--that hopefully this Senate will embrace:

    ``It is the sense of the Senate that--

    ``(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the
    data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims
    that are made in the name of science; and

    ``(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help
    students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing
    controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in
    public discussions regarding the subject.

    It simply says there are disagreements in scientific theories out there
    that are continually tested. Our knowledge of science is not absolute,
    obviously. We continue to test theories. Over the centuries, there were
    theories that were once assumed to be true and have been proven, through
    further revelation of scientific investigation and testing, to be not true.

    One of the things I thought was important in putting this forward was to
    make sure the Senate of this country, obviously one of the greatest, if not
    the greatest, deliberative bodies on the face of the Earth, was on record
    saying we are for this kind of intellectual freedom; we are for this kind
    of discussion going on; it will enhance the quality of science education
    for our students.

    I will read three points made by one of the advocates of this thought, a
    man named David DeWolf as to the advantages of teaching this controversy
    that exists. He says:

    Several benefits will accrue from a more open discussion of biological
    origins in the science classroom. First, this approach will do a better job
    of teaching the issue itself, both because it presents more accurate
    information about the state of scientific thinking and evidence, and
    because it presents the subject in a more lively and less dogmatic way.
    Second, this approach gives students greater appreciation for how science
    is actually practiced. Science necessarily involves the interpretation of
    data; yet scientists often disagree about how to interpret their data. By
    presenting this scientific controversy realistically, students will learn
    how to evaluate competing interpretations in light of evidence--a skill
    they will need as citizens, whether they choose careers in science or other
    fields. Third, this approach will model for students how to address
    differences of opinion through reasoned discussion within the context of a
    pluralistic society.
    I think there are many benefits to this discussion that we hope to
    encourage in science classrooms across this country. I frankly don't see
    any down side to this discussion--that we are standing here as the Senate
    in favor of intellectual freedom and open and fair discussion of using
    science--not philosophy and religion within the context, within the context
    of science but science--as the basis for this determination.

    I will reserve the remainder of my time. I have a couple of other speakers
    I anticipate will come down and talk about this amendment, and I want to
    leave adequate time. I yield the floor.

    Sen. Kennedy responded:

    Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, first of all, on the Santorum amendment, I hope
    all of our colleagues will vote in support of it. It talks about using good
    science to consider the teaching of biological evolution. I think the way
    the Senator described it, as well as the language itself, is completely
    consistent with what represents the central values of this body. We want
    children to be able to speak and examine various scientific theories on the
    basis of all of the information that is available to them so they can talk
    about different concepts and do it intelligently with the best information
    that is before them.
    I think the Senator has expressed his views in support of the amendment and
    the reasons for it. I think they make eminently good sense. I intend to
    support that proposal.

    ---- END -------

    Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution -
    "The answer we should have known about 150 years ago."

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