Ohio House Bill Would Undermine the Teaching of Evolution November 7, 2014

Ohio House Bill Would Undermine the Teaching of Evolution

Ohio’s House Bill 597 would amend existing education law to include this bit about science:

The standards in science shall be based in core existing disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics; incorporate grade-level mathematics and be referenced to the mathematics standards; focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and encourage students to analyze, critique, and review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the standards.

That’s all code for “teach kids that evolution is questioned by credible scientists”… which it’s not.

The National Center for Science Education explains the history of that language in this particular bill and why educators should be worried:

As NCSE previously reported, HB 597, aimed primarily at eliminating Common Core, also contained a provision requiring the state’s science standards to “prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another.” A sponsor of the bill, Andy Thompson (R-District 95), explained that local school districts would be allowed to teach creationism along with evolution and global warming denial alongside climate science.

The objectionable provision was removed in committee, but it was replaced with the “strengths and weaknesses” language, familiar from antiscience bills across the country. NCSE’s deputy director Glenn Branch commented, “If the sponsors of the bill are trying to reassure the public that they’re not trying to open the classroom door to creationism, climate change denial, and pseudoscience of all kinds, they’re not doing a good job.”

The current version of the bill passed out of the House Rules and Reference committee this week by a 7-2 vote. There’s some hope the bill won’t go any further, though:

Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard, a Columbus Democrat and House Minority Leader, said she is not sure what will happen to the bill from here. She said there is little support for it from Republican leaders in the Ohio Senate and she doubts there are enough votes for it in the House as a whole.

Still, if you live in Ohio, please contact your representatives and urge them to vote against this bill.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Jim for the link)

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