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"Why can't science teachers simply teach science?" was the reaction of a columnist for the Charleston, South Carolina, Post and Courier (October 13, 2013), in the wake of the state board of education's discussion of the revised state science standards at its October 9, 2013, meeting.
"The state Board of Education gave initial approval to a new set of science standards Wednesday, although some board members tried to overturn the vote out of concern over whether the new guidelines leave room for students' religious beliefs on the origin of life," reported the Greenville News (October 9, 2013).
Two antievolution bills, Senate Bill 873 and Senate Bill 875, died in committee when the South Carolina legislature adjourned on June 3, 2010.
Senate Bill 873, introduced in the South Carolina Senate on May 21, 2009, and referred to the Senate Committee on Education, would, if enacted, require the state board of education to "examine all curriculum in use in this State that purports to teach students about the origins of mankind to determine whether the curriculum maintains neutrality toward religion."
Senate Bill 1386, introduced in the South Carolina Senate on May 15, 2008, and referred to the Senate Committee on Education, is the newest so-called "academic freedom" bill aimed at undermining the teaching of evolution, joining similar bills currently under consideration in Louisiana, Michigan, and Missouri. Similar bills in Florida and Alabama died when the legislative session in those states ended.
The South Carolina board of education voted on January 9, 2008, to add Kenneth R. Miller and Joseph Levine's popular high school textbook Biology, published by Prentice-Hall, to the official list of textbooks approved by the state. "Science teachers from across the state erupted in applause after the vote," the Associated Press (January 9, 2008) reported.
South Carolina's Education Oversight Committee (EOC) approved the state science standard concerned with evolution on June 12, after delaying for seven months at the behest of committee member Senator Michael Fair (R-District 6), a well-known opponent of teaching evolution.
There are signs that the impasse over South Carolina's science standards is nearing its end. As previously reported, the state board of education voted in March 2006 to reject a proposal from the state's Education Oversight Committee that would have significantly expanded the "critical analysis" language already present in the section of the new state science standards that deal with evolution.
A proposal to direct the South Carolina state board of education to approve only textbooks that "emphasize critical thinking and analysis in each academic content" was rejected by the House Committee on Education and Public Works on May 16, 2006.