Anti-Evolution and Anti-Climate Science Legislation Scorecard: 2015

08.24.2015

We laughed, we cried, we felt a thousand emotions. And when the dust finally settled, we were left with the usual pile of dead anti-science copycat bills, often from the usual players. We're looking at you, Missouri and Oklahoma.

The tally was nearly identical to 2014's. Four bills targeted evolution, one climate science, two unspecified "scientific controversies," and one adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Small surprise: The fifth attempt to repeal the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act died in committee. Kudos to Friend of Darwin winner and student activist Zack Kopplin and Louisiana state senator Karen Carter Peterson for tilting at this particular windmill.

No fewer than four Darwin Day resolutions were introduced in 2015, in the House of Representatives and (for the first time) in the Senate as well as in Arizona and Pennsylvania. None have passed.

The battles for science education weren't just fought in state legislatures this year, but in state boards of education trying to adopt the NGSS. Although dozens of states had a hand in crafting the NGSS, only fourteen (plus the District of Columbia) have (more or less) adopted the standards. Only three states (Arkansas [so far only for K–8], Iowa, and West Virginia) signed up in 2015, although South Dakota’s new state science standards, though not identical to the NGSS, are certainly indebted to them. There was also progress in Wyoming, where a 2014 law blocking the adoption of the NGSS was repealed in 2015.

Meanwhile, anti-science forces continue to undermine NGSS adoption. In Utah, new science standards for middle school have been blocked all year, allegedly over climate change and evolution. And after the Kansas state board of education voted to adopt the NGSS in 2013, a lawsuit attempting to undo the decision was filed, alleging that the NGSS "will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview." The suit was dismissed in late 2014, but the inevitable appeal was immediately filed and is currently before the Tenth Circuit.

The legislative lay of the land:

Alabama
House Bill 592
Aim: Would encourage teachers and students to "debate the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution in public schools across Alabama."
Status: Died in committee

Links:
Antiscience bill dies in Alabama

Arizona
House Resolution 2002
Aim: Would designate February 12, 2015, as Darwin Day.
Status: Died in committee

Links:
Darwin Day resolution in Arizona

Indiana
Senate Bill 562
Aim: Would prevent administrators from stopping teachers from miseducating students about "scientific controversies" (mentioning only human cloning).
Status: Died in committee

Links:
Antiscience bill dies in Indiana

Iowa
House File 272
Aim: Would have prevented Iowa from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (in part because of the NGSS's treatment of evolution and climate change).
Status: Died in committee. (Iowa adopted the NGSS in August.)

Links:
Anti-NGSS bill in Iowa dies

Louisiana
Senate Bill 74
Aim: Would repeal so-called Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008.
Status: Died in committee.

Links:
Repeal effort fails again in Louisiana

Missouri
House Bill 486
Aim: Would confer "academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding evolution" to teachers. The bill specifically cited "the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution" as controversial.
Status: Died in committee

Links:
Antievolution bill dies in Missouri

Montana
House Bill 321
Aim: Would encourage high school teachers to present evolutionary biology as disputed theory.
Status: Died in committee

Links:
Antiscience bill in Montana dies

Oklahoma
Senate Bill 665
Aim: Would prevent administrators from stopping teachers from miseducating students about "scientific controversies" (none specifically identified).
Status: Died in committee

Links:
Antiscience bill dies in Oklahoma

Pennsylvania
House Resolution 83
Aim: Would designate February 12, 2015, as Darwin Day in Pennsylvania
Status: In committee

Links:
Darwin Day resolution in Pennsylvania

South Dakota
Senate Bill 114
Aim: Would prevent administrators from stopping teachers from miseducating students about science (listing "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning").
Status: Died in committee

Links:
Antiscience bill in South Dakota dies

United States House of Representatives
House Resolution 67
Aim: Would designate February 12, 2015, as Darwin Day
Status: In committee

Links:
Darwin Day resolution in Congress

United States Senate
Senate Resolution 66
Aim: Would designate February 12, 2015, as Darwin Day
Status: In committee

Links:
Darwin Day resolution in the Senate

CONTACT: Robert Luhn, Director of Communications, NCSE, 510-601-7203, luhn@ncse.com

Web site: www.ncse.com

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit membership organization that defends the teaching of evolution and climate science. The NCSE provides information, resources, and advice to schools, teachers, parents, and concerned citizens defending science education. We educate the press and public about the scientific, educational, and legal aspects of these issues at local, state, and national levels. Our 5000 members are scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens with diverse religious and political affiliations.