It’s happening in Oklahoma – again.
A bill that would prevent teachers from marking down students who turn in papers that dispute ideas like climate change and evolution was approved by the Oklahoma Common Education committee on Tuesday by a 9-8 vote.
HB1674 states that students in science classes would be able to make totally unscientific and unfounded faith-based claims, and not be penalized for it. This is a horrible travesty of education, one that I’m sure most teachers would protest vigorously.
From Mother Jones:
Gus Blackwell, the Republican state representative who introduced the bill, insists that his legislation has nothing to do with religion; it simply encourages scientific exploration. “I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks,” says Blackwell, who previously spent 20 years working for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. “A student has the freedom to write a paper that points out that highly complex life may not be explained by chance mutations.”
Really? So I can declare that God created the world around six thousand years ago, even though my textbook says something quite different, and get an ‘A’ in science class? Whatever happened to the inquiry method, in which students are required to develop a solid argument based on proven facts?
Of course, this is Oklahoma, the same state that has brought us Senator James Inhofe who famously stated, “Climate change is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
Twenty-five years after the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that mandated religious instruction in science classes, lawmakers in many states are still trying to water down the teaching of science and push creationism into the public schools.
It’s not just Oklahoma. Just a few weeks into the 2013 legislative session, there are already anti-evolution bills circulating in Missouri, Montana, Colorado, Indiana, in addition to Oklahoma. And in some cases, like this one, climate change has taken a prominent place, along with evolution, as a target for creationists.
These lawmakers have also changed their tactics. Take the bill proposed by Missouri State Representative Rick Brattin: HB291 would require that intelligent design and “destiny” get the same amount of textbook coverage in Missouri schools as the theory of evolution. Brattin insists that his bill is not influenced by religion. After all, the legislator has declared: “I’m a huge science buff.”
Again from Mother Jones:
Eric Meikle, education project director at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in Oakland, California, says Oklahoma has proposed more anti-evolution legislation than any other state, introducing eight bills with academic freedom language since 2004. (None has passed.) “The problem with these bills is that they’re so open-ended; it’s a kind of code for people who are opposed to teaching climate change and evolution,” Meikle says.
“An extremely high percentage of scientists will tell you that evolution doesn’t have scientific weaknesses,” says the NCSE’s Meikle.
As Bill Nye the Science Guy puts it, denial of evolution is unique to the United States. The fundamental ideas behind the theory of evolution have been scientific gospel for decades — and yet, defying Darwin, creationists refuse to go the way of the dinosaurs.
Let’s hope this egregious bill never passes.
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