Antiscience legislation in South Dakota progresses

02.21.2019

South Dakota's House Bill 1270 passed the House Education Committee on a 8-6 vote on February 20, 2019, despite the opposition of the state's leading educational organizations.

If enacted, HB 1270 would ostensibly allow public school teachers to help students "understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48 [the section of the state code that governs the state education standards revision cycle]."

Although no specific scientific topics are mentioned, the language of the bill matches the language in bills explicitly aimed at disputing evolution and/or climate change, including South Dakota's SB 114 in 2015, and the two proponents of the bill speaking before the committee in favor of the bill cited global warming, the Big Bang, "unguided evolution," and the origin of life as topics of particular concern.

Organizations whose representatives spoke against the bill included a wide sampling of the state's educational organizations — the South Dakota Department of Education, the School Administrators of South Dakota, the South Dakota Education Association, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, the United School Association of South Dakota, and the Sioux Falls School District — as well as the Sierra Club.

HB 1270 will now presumably go to the floor of the House of Representatives; February 25, 2019, is the deadline for it to pass for it to proceed to the Senate.