Antiscience bill progresses in Oklahoma

02.27.2017

Oklahoma's Senate Bill 393 (PDF), which would empower science denial in the classroom, was passed on a 13-1 vote by the Senate Education Committee on February 27, 2017.

SB 393 would, if enacted, in effect encourage science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach anything they pleased — proponents of creationism and climate change denial are the usual intended beneficiaries of such bills — and prevent responsible educational authorities from intervening. No scientific topics are specifically identified as controversial, but the fact that the sole sponsor of SB 393 is Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who introduced similar legislation that directly targeted evolution in previous legislative sessions, is suggestive. Previous versions of SB 393 elicited opposition from the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the National Association of Biology Teachers, which also expressed its opposition to SB 393 in a letter (PDF) dated February 15, 2015: "We respectfully request that the state reject SB 393 in support of science education that imparts to students an understanding of science based on the key components of the nature of science and content agreed upon by scientists and professional educators."

Opposition to the bill is, as usual, being coordinated by the grassroots organization Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.