Wednesday, April 6, 2016

#1638: Blaine Galliher

Blaine Galliher was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives (30. district) from 1994 to 2012, when he resigned to serve as Governor Bentleys Legislative Director. For our purposes Galliher is most notable for his strategy for getting creationism taught in public schools. While legislators have not had much success forcing creationism onto the curriculum, Galliher’s bill would allow schools to offer academic credit for a released time program of creationist instruction taking place off school property. His colleague, Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Indian Springs) thought “this would be a real good [opportunity], to be able to study religion.According to legal experts, the strategy would not be less in violation of the Constitution than the usual creationist attempts. And at least Galliher was pretty forthcoming about his intentions: “They teach evolution in the textbooks, but they don't teach a creation theory,” and “[c]reation has just as much right to be taught in the school system as evolution does and I think this is simply providing the vehicle to do that.

Apparently the bill was introduced at the behest of a former teacher who was “fired in 1980 for reading the Bible and teaching creationism at Spring Garden Elementary School when parents of the public school sixth-grade students objected and he refused to stop,” one Joseph Kennedy, who “still has a dream of teaching public school students about creationism.” Kennedy and his supporters were poised to offer a course on creationism if the bill should have passed. Which, of course, it didn’t (though it passed committee).

Diagnosis: Alabama still doesn’t have much of a reputation for its public education, and anti-education zealots like Galliher are at least partly to blame for that. There are plenty of them where he came from.

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