It’s the start of a new legislative session, and with Republicans in control of most state houses now you can expect a sharp uptick in the number of anti-evolution bills being submitted. Oklahoma, of course, always its share of such bills and the NCSE has the details on the first one of the session:
First, echoing the still popular “academic freedom” language of antievolution legislation, the bill provides that state and local education administrators “shall not prohibit any teacher from informing students about relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses of controversial topics in sciences, when being taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula,” where such topics “include but are not limited to biological origins of life and biological evolution.” The bill also provides, “No teacher shall be reassigned, terminated, disciplined or otherwise discriminated against for providing scientific information being taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula.”
Translation: A teacher can introduce the most egregious nonsense based on ignorance and dishonesty into their classrooms and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. When the bill says teachers may introduce “scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses” that means they can introduce creationist garbage.
Second, the bill requires the state board of education to adopt “standards and curricula” that echo the flawed portions of the state science standards adopted in Texas in 2009 with respect to the nature of science and, for grades eight through twelve, evolution. For example, the content of SB 554′s D1, D2, D7, D9, and D10 are identical to sections 7A, 7B, 7G, 8A, and 8B of the Texas high school biology standards — all sections that were added or amended by antievolution members of the Texas state board of education, such as Don “Someone’s got to stand up to experts!” McLeroy, in order to encourage the presentation of creationist claims in the science classroom. No fewer than fifty-four scientific and educational organizations opposed these revisions.
Yeah, copying Texas is exactly what you want to do — assuming you have no interest in actually educating students in science. The good news is that the bill’s sponsor is, like most people, too stupid to use euphemisms and he blurts out what the real point is:
The sole sponsor of the bill is Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who announced his intention to file antievolution legislation in a column in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 19, 2010): “Renowned scientists now asserting that evolution is laden with errors are being ignored. … Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings[,] is incomplete and unacceptable.” In a subsequent column in the Daily Democrat (December 24, 2010), he clearly indicated that his intention was to have creationism presented as scientifically credible, writing, “I have introduced legislation requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution using the known science, even that which conflicts with Darwin’s religion.”
That’s the one big advantage science has in this battle. No matter how many times the Discovery Institute says, “Don’t say creation, say intelligent design theory,” the school board members and legislators who push the policies they want just aren’t capable of concealing their real agenda. Plus they want to be credited by ignorant voters as taking a stand for God, so they want to say such things publicly — and they always give away the game when they do so.