Reason Prevails As Three Red States Scrap Anti-Science Legislation


There is a Republican war against science being waged in states across the country. In just the last couple of years alone, conservative lawmakers in Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana, Arizona, and elsewhere have made attempts to force schools to teach religious doctrine as part of the science curriculum. Evolution and climate science are the primary targets of such legislation. But in the last week, the National Center for Science Education has reported that reason has prevailed in three red states as anti-science bills have been scrapped.

In Oklahoma, SB 758 died after the Senate Education Committee deadline to consider the bill came and went on February 25th. The bill would have required education officials to do the following:

“Assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies,” and “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.”

The “controversies” referred to in the bill are of course, evolution, which Republicans want to counter with the biblical story of creation, as well as climate change science. But while the Senate has abandoned this bill, the House still has an active bill known as HB 1674 under consideration.

In Arizona, Senate committees declined to consider SB 1213, which would have pushed for so-called “academic freedom” by allowing science teachers to counter the topics of evolution and climate change with scientifically unsupported theories. The bill was scrapped on February 22nd.

And in Indiana, HB 1283 suffered an unceremonious death after the bill failed to be read a third time in the House. The bill would have allowed teachers in math, science, and history courses the following leeway:

“To help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.”

In other words, teachers would have been able to present information that is unsupported by historical, mathematical, and scientific fact. Teachers could have claimed that the Founding Fathers supported a Christian state in history class or teach creationism as scientific fact. Indiana lawmakers, however, held on to reason and allowed the bill to die.

The deaths of the these bills is not only a victory for science and reason, it’s a victory for the education of our kids as well. America as a nation is struggling with science as it is. These bills would have just made science more complicated and controversial for children to learn and for teachers to teach. But let us not forget that conservative lawmakers introduce these types of bills every year in attempt to undermine science as a way to force religion on students. So those of us in this nation who value reason and fact must continue to guard against these anti-science measures so that our schools remain as institutions of reason and learning instead of becoming institutions of ignorance and indoctrination.