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Antievolution legislation on the horizon in Oklahoma


When the Oklahoma House of Representatives convenes on February 6, 2006, among the bills awaiting attention will be House Bill 2107 (RTF), dubbed the Academic Freedom Act. If enacted, HB 2107 would provide:

A. Every public school teacher in the State of Oklahoma, shall have the affirmative right and freedom to present scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views in any curricula or course of learning.
B. No public school teacher in the State of Oklahoma shall be terminated, disciplined, or otherwise discriminated against for presenting scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views in any curricula or course of learning.
C. Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of course materials, but no student, in any public school shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific views.
D. The rights and privileges contained in the Academic Freedom Act apply when topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological or chemical origins of life. Nothing in this act shall be construed as requiring or encouraging any change in the state curriculum standards for public schools.
E. Nothing in this act shall be construed as promoting any religious doctrine, promoting discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promoting discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.
The reference in (D) to "biological or chemical origins of life" is a clear indication that the bill is aimed specifically at evolution, as is the legislative finding that "existing law does not expressly protect the right of teachers identified by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories." HB 2107 was introduced by Representative Sally Kern (R-District 55).