Zombie Bill Reawakens in Oklahoma

A bill in Oklahoma that would, if enacted, encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution” and “global warming” is back from the dead. Entitled the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act,” House Bill 1551 was introduced in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2011 by Sally Kern (R-District 84), a persistent sponsor of antievolution legislation in the Sooner State, and referred to the House Common Education Committee. It was rejected there on February 22, 2011, on a 7-9 vote. But, as The Oklahoman (February 23, 2011) reported, the vote was not final, since a sponsor “could ask the committee to bring it up again this session or next year.” And indeed, on February 20, 2012, Gus Blackwell (R-District 61) resurrected the bill in the House Common Education Committee.

Here is the bill

Here is the whole write-up from the NCSE.

Comments

  1. #1 vhutchison
    February 21, 2012

    Despite concerted efforts here in Oklahoma to defeat this bill, it passed the committee 9-7. I was there in hopes I could address the committee, but Newt Gingrich spoke to the legislature and put everything behind schedule. Thus the Committee would not allow comments from the public. The bill was not placed on the agenda until just 24 hours before the meeting – the minimum requirement.

    Hopefully, the bill will not be heard on the floor. Another of creationist Sally Kern’s bills last year also passed 9-7, but the House leadership did not place it for a vote. HB 1551 is very similar to SB 1742 and the Chair of the Senate Education Committee has said he is not in favor of the bill. As Chair, he can decide not to hear the bills when they come before his committee. Two years ago he was the deciding vote that killed an earlier academic freedom act – and he is a Republican – the only one to vote against the bill.

    Thus, we remain hopeful that we will see such bills defeated for the eleventh year in a row. Not an easy thing in this reddest of states where the Republicans have major majorities in both houses and hold all elected state offices. A good sign is that a few Repubicans have joined with Democrats to oppose such bills.

  2. #2 Knightly
    February 22, 2012

    Would the bill allow teachers to teach the actual science and then point out why the anti-climate change/anti-evolution arguments are wrong?

  3. #3 vhutchison
    February 22, 2012

    Knightly: Although the proponents of the bill claim that only science would be allowed (in their arguments before the committee), it is clear that the inclusion of ‘strengths and weakneses” and ‘controversial’ subjects would allow teachers to bring in anti-science materials. Certainly some teachers reading the bill would assume they could bring in ID, et., since the proponents claim it is science. These and other problems with ‘academic freedom acts’ have been pointed out repeatedly by NCSE and other pro-science groups.

  4. #4 Jason
    February 22, 2012

    Based on the title of your post, I was hoping educators would get to teach the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of theories regarding the Zombie Apocalypse. Presumably the likelihood of that event is similar to some of the other topics these legislators want to teach?

  5. #5 g724
    February 23, 2012

    What to do about this:

    Amend the bill with language that also calls for teaching socialism in economics classes, presenting views in favor of legalizing marijuana in drug education classes, and so on. In other words, bring up every item on which the progressive left wants to call out a controversy and “teach both sides.” Further, any teaching of creationism should be accompanied by teaching the rest of that controversy in the form of all the scientific findings that support atheism or at least refute fundamentalism.

    Watch the creationists’ heads explode. Watch them weasel around to try to defeat the amendments. And then if they pass the law the way they want it, raise up a great big lawsuit demanding to teach socialism as a counterpoint to free-market economics.

    The way to get these people to run away shrieking isn’t to play defense, it’s to play offense, and go on the attack.

  6. #6 F
    February 23, 2012

    As if science doesn’t already acknowledge a lack of data or bits of theory which are not strongly supported. That’s how science works. Not by making up weaknesses with respect to religious and other weird thinking. And coming to a conclusion that some organism better fits in a species different than originally though, for example, doesn’t weaken the entire theory of evolution. It only weakens a theory or hypothesis with respect to that organism, population, clade, family, etc.

    Hey, at sunset, the sky isn’t always blue! Blue-sky theory refuted!

  7. #7 John
    February 26, 2012

    Fifty years ago evolution wasn’t controversial in my Oklahoma school. In fact, Inherit the Wind was a hit in my hometown’s community theater (my Dad played the slobbering preacher). It seems like they’re turning into monkeys there nowadays.

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