"Controversial issues" resolution in South Dakota

01.28.2019

A resolution in the South Dakota legislature would urge the adoption of a code of ethics for public school teachers — with a provision that could adversely affect science education.

House Concurrent Resolution 1002 (PDF), filed on January 25, 2019, by fifteen legislators (all Republicans) and referred to the House Education Committee, is aimed primarily at preventing what it describes as "political or ideological indoctrination." But a provision of the proposed code would prohibit teachers from advocating "for any issue that is part of a political party platform at the national, state, or local level." As NCSE's Glenn Branch observed in a series of blog posts in 2014, it is not unusual for state political parties to take a stand on evolution and supposed alternatives to it in their platforms, and the same is true of climate change. If the resolution were enacted, then, it would provide a route to pressure teachers to use antievolution and/or climate change denial material in their classrooms. 

A similar resolution, House Joint Resolution 684, is under consideration in Virginia, and a similar bill, House Bill 2002, is under consideration in Arizona.