NASHVILLE - Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, says he is not upset with Gov. Bill Haslam's refusal today to sign into law a controversial Watson bill that protects teachers who "help" students understand "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution and other scientific theories.
Haslam, a fellow Republican, allowed the legislation today to become law without his signature, saying "good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion."
Watson said the confusion "comes from the opponents of the bill, who have mischaracterized a lot of what the law would actually do. And look, the bill wasn't part of the governor's education package, so I can see where the governor would look at this legislation and say, 'Look, this isn't my idea. This is the legislature's idea.'"
While scientists and other critics say the legislation is a backdoor attack on well-established science, Watson said he hopes it will lead to more student interest in science.
"One of the things about science is we can't get enough students to go into and enjoy science," said Watson, who has a bachelor's degree in biology. "And perhaps if science classes allow for less rote memorization and student regurgitation and more discussion, students might get excited about science and understand that it's not just about memorizing facts and data - that actually there is debate and conversation that occurs in the science class much as they do in the humanities classes."