Oklahoma Opens The Door For Creationism In Schools

Author: March 23, 2012 3:01 pm

A new round of bills is making its way through Republican controlled legislatures with almost identical language that will allow teachers to “teach the controversy” about accepted scientific facts. Tennessee just passed theirs and now Oklahoma is next up to the plate of scientific illiteracy.

The bill, adorably called the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act,” purports to expand scientific freedom and inquiry but what it really does is make it impossible for proper teachers to dismiss unscientific (read as religious) “arguments” and to allow unethical charlatans posing as teachers to undermine actual science to further a religious agenda. The idea is to “create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.” The problem is that “opinion” has no place in the science classroom. It can be my “opinion” that the moon is made out of green cheese, that has no bearing whatsoever on the fact that it is made of rock.


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Here’s my favorite part:

Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of course materials, but no student in any public school or institution shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories.

Translation: If a student answers every question on an evolution test wrong because they believe that God made man from clay, you, the teacher, cannot give them a failing grade because that might be construed as “punishment.”

And just to deliver the final blow to actual science, there’s this disingenuous bit:

The provisions of the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act shall only protect the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

Translation: Even if you are teaching the material correctly, you can be accused of promoting a set of non-beliefs or nonreligious “doctrines” by skipping over Creationism. The end result is that real teachers will avoid the topic completely as well as the other “controversial” issues named in the bill, specifically “the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” Why human cloning? It’s a ringer. Whether it can be done isn’t the question but rather if it should be done; a perfectly legitimate debate to have, unlike like the rest. Cloning is just there to provide cover. Further, the disturbingly large amount of teachers that already teach Creationism will be emboldened to attack established science in order to push their religious worldview.

The attack on Climate Change science is particularly egregious because, unlike evolution, it’s not even based on religion. The GOP has stepped up its game. Now, not only do we have to watch for religion creeping into our schools but the right corporate agenda as well. Republicans truly have no shame and not an ounce of concern for our children’s education.

 

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3 Comments

  • Umm, Justin, I made a similar comment to this about Stephen Foster’s article on Tennessee’s education bill. It appears to be unnecessary in most cases, but this was what I got from reading the bill, and especially in the light of clause (e) from the Tennessee version–

    (e) This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

    Since the entire bill is about the teaching of scientific information, and uses that exact phrase several times, I believe that subsection (e) actually PROTECTS teachers who respond to a question about creationism with the reply, “I’m very sorry, Timmy, but Creationism isn’t science, it’s a religious belief, and this is science class.” From what I read, the bill actually protects teachers against being pressured to teach a non-science oriented “religious” belief as science, and requires them to teach children honestly about the things science doesn’t explain as well as the things it does.

    As well, I believe there is another meaning to the other section you quoted as well. “Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of course materials, but no student in any public school or institution shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories.”

    I took this to mean that if your psychology teacher believes that gays are an abomination and that being gay is a learned behavior they can be taught out of, and a student tells him or her that being gay is just the way they are born and that there is compelling evidence for this, the teacher cannot fail that student for refusing to parrot his or her position. A student believing in Creationism and failing every test on Evolution would, again, not come under the protection of this law, which only recognizes a differing opinion on scientific theories, not religious ones.

    I was shaking my head all the way through reading the Tennessee bill, until I came to subsection (e), which specifically states that it only protects the teaching of scientific information. That wording means, literally, that the teaching of any other kind of information is NOT protected by this bill, and therefore science teachers who teach any non-scientific information are at risk of their jobs.

    I have the feeling that this bill was offered to a Republican’t to submit, and that the Republican’t legislator simply accepted what he was told, which is the opposite of what this bill actually says. I believe the Republican’ts who forced this bill through the Tennessee state house unwittingly did Creationism and Intelligent Design in, and if the Oklahoma bill is the same as the Tennessee bill there are going to be a lot of happy science teachers in both states.

    If I’m wrong, please tell me what I missed.

    • perhaps you are right. however, that doesnt take care of the problem of them trying to get it through anyway. churches are for religion. not schools. i even have a problem with schools built around religion. i dont think the two go well together. i would love to see a science professor from any college try to set up a class, with students, in a church on sunday dury the preachers surmon. you know it wouldnt go well with the patrons of said church. yet it seems okay to these same people to have religion, in one way or another, into the schools that have better things to teach thier students. what happens to science as a whole if we completely get rid of evolution. how long before other sciences follow. pretty soon we’ll be back in the stone age and we can have a shaman bless us all before we eat our dinner. yes, i know thats and extreme veiw, but no less valid

  • Is there some kind of plot for Republicans to totally tie up the courts with the lawsuits that are going to be filed against them? And I’m not just referring to this bill.

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