Santorum Amendment

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The Santorum Amendment was two short paragraphs of text which Rick Santorum, then a United States Senator from Pennsylvania, tried to add into President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind act in 2001. The intent of the proposed addition was to stop public schools from teaching the theory of evolution dogmatically, but opponents said it the language would have the effect of supporting the teaching of intelligent design, which they regard as Creationism rather than as a legitimate scientific theory.

The proposed amendment would have expressed "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 the subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.

Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, said that the amendment "will encourage the teaching of creationism. If a teacher is looking for a loophole or justification to bring non-scientific views into the curriculum, this amendment can be interpreted that way." [1]

PR Newswire wrote:

  • The approach advocated in the Santorum Amendment is favored by the vast majority of Americans, no matter what their race, gender, or political party. According to a nationwide Zogby poll in 2009, 80 percent of likely voters "agree that teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory." [2]

The Discovery Institute wrote:

  • The Santorum Amendment (in both its original and revised version) did not mandate teaching intelligent design, nor did it encourage teaching creationism or religion in the classroom. Instead, it encouraged open discussion and inquiry by teachers and students. [3]