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Antiscience effort falters in Oklahoma

A last-ditch legislative attempt to attack the teaching of evolution and of climate change in Oklahoma failed when a legislative deadline passed. After two antiscience bills, House Bill 1551 and Senate Bill 1742, died in committee, Steve Russell (R-District 45) proposed to amend House Bill 2341 — a bill that would have extended by two years a deadline by which local school districts are required to meet certain standards for media, equipment, and textbooks — by adding the language from HB 1551, encouraging teachers to present "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of "controversial" topics such as "biological evolution" and "global warming." The amended version of the bill would have been considered when the bill came to a floor vote in the Senate, but April 26, 2012, was the deadline for bills to receive their third reading in the opposite house, so presumably no floor vote will occur. The legislative session is not over until May 25, 2012, however, so the possibility of similar amendments to unrelated bills remains. Resistance to the amendment to HB 2341, as well as HB 1551 and SB 1742, was coordinated by the grassroots organization Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.