Bill Undermining Science Education Introduced in Oklahoma

Silencing Science Tracker

Bill Undermining Science Education Introduced in Oklahoma

On February 6, 2017, a bill (SB 393) was introduced in the Oklahoma Senate that critics say would undermine science education. SB 393 aims to create a classroom environment “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.” It would prevent the State Board of Education, and any school district board of education, school district superintendent, or school principal from “prohibit[ing] any teacher . . . from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”

Science education groups have expressed concern that, if enacted, SB 393 would encourage teachers to present proven scientific theories as unsettled and/or discuss alternative unproven concepts. The National Center for Science Education, for example, has argued that it would allow “science teachers to teach anything they please[], while preventing responsible education authorities from intervening.” The center is particularly concerned that it could allow the teaching of creationism in place of evolution, and give teachers freedom to present climate change as a hoax.

UpdateThe bill was passed by the Senate on March 22, 2017, and was subsequently referred to the House of Representatives. The House did not vote on the bill.


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