Antiscience bill in South Dakota dies

02.05.2016

South Dakota's Senate Bill 83 is out of commission, following a February 4, 2016, hearing in the Senate Education Committee. The committee voted 4-3 to defer further consideration of the bill to the forty-first legislative day, and since the legislative session in South Dakota is thirty-eight days long in 2016, the bill is effectively dead.

If enacted, SB 83 would have allowed teachers to present "the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information" presented in courses aligned with the state education standards. No areas of "scientific information" were specifically identified as abounding in weaknesses, but the otherwise similar Senate Bill 114 from 2015 identified "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning" as scientifically controversial. According to SDPB Radio (February 4, 2016), proponents of SB 83 cited climate change as a scientific issue that was presented in a biased way.

Testifying against the bill was Wade Pogany, the executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, who told the committee, in the words of KELO AM radio (February 4, 2016), that "state and federal courts have ruled that teachers can't abandon the curriculum for their own beliefs."