Ohio's antiscience bill progresses


Ohio's House Bill 597 — which if enacted would require students in the state's public schools to "review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories in the [state science] standards" — was passed on a 7-2 vote by the House Rules and Reference committee on November 5, 2014, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (November 5, 2014).

As NCSE previously reported, HB 597, aimed primarily at eliminating Common Core, also contained a provision requiring the state's science standards to "prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another." A sponsor of the bill, Andy Thompson (R-District 95), explained that local school districts would be allowed to teach creationism along with evolution and global warming denial alongside climate science.

The objectionable provision was removed in committee, but it was replaced with the "strengths and weaknesses" language, familiar from antiscience bills across the country. NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch commented, "If the sponsors of the bill are trying to reassure the public that they're not trying to open the classroom door to creationism, climate change denial, and pseudoscience of all kinds, they're not doing a good job."

After the committee's passage of the bill, Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-District 26), who voted against HB 597, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that she doubted that the bill would progress further. Although the committee's vote was on party lines, with Republicans uniformly supporting the bill, "[s]he said there is little support for it from Republican leaders in the Ohio Senate and she doubts there are enough votes for it in the House as a whole."