While it might be something of a misnomer to say that Tennesseans have opted out of the evolutionary process altogether (maybe), it's far more accurate to say that, as far as school learnin' goes, Tennesseans don't take kindly to the idea that human beings are descended from our extinct simian cousins.
In fact, we don't really take to it at all because it's not mandatory to learn in the first place in the state's school system.
Indeed, that evolution is only taught in high school biology classes as an elective is just one factor contributing to Tennessee's recent "D" grade from the obviously liberal and elitist Thomas B. Fordham Institute, whose "State of State Science Standards 2012" report found all manner of flaws with the dissemination of scientific methodology and information in the Volunteer State's classrooms.
American science performance is lagging as the economy becomes increasingly high tech, but our current science standards are doing little to solve the problem. Reviewers evaluated science standards for every state for this report and their findings were deeply troubling: The majority of states earned Ds or Fs for their standards in this crucial subject, with only six jurisdictions receiving As.
The Tennessee science standards are clearly written—but their linguistic clarity too often is undermined by statements that are so broad they starve the passages of meaning. To make matters more confusing, Tennessee offers a bewildering array of high school courses. Taken together, these drawbacks make it impossible to infer what a student in the Volunteer State will know (or at least be expected to know) upon graduation.
Confused as a monkey with a monolith? Scientific American breaks the results down (bold emphasis Pith's):
What exactly is going wrong? The study’s lead authors identified four main factors: an undermining of evolution, vague goals, not enough guidance for teachers on how to integrate the history of science and the concept of scientific inquiry into their lessons, and not enough math instruction.
Let’s take these one by one. For evolution, the report points out that eight anti-evolution bills were introduced in six state legislatures last year. This year, two similar bills were pre-filed in New Hampshire and one in Indiana. ”And these tactics are far more subtle than they once were,” write the authors. “Missouri, for example, has asterisked all ‘controversial’ evolution content in the standards and relegated it to a voluntary curriculum that will not be assessed … Tennessee includes evolution only in an elective high school course (not the basic high school biology course).” Maryland, according to the report, includes evolution content but “explicitly excludes” crucial points about evolution from its state-wide tests.
Adding insult to injury, the usual rogue's gallery of mass societal dysfunction (aka the Deep South) scored as well or better than Tennessee, according to this depressing map.