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Thursday in Oklahoma, the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee advanced a bill to the House floor that parents and science teachers believe will compromise science education in the state. The bill, SB 393, bars the State Board of education, school superintendents and school principals from stopping classroom teachers from teaching non-evidence based science. It would protect teachers wishing to counter established scientific facts with pseudoscientific theories regarding such issues as climate change and evolution from repercussions from school officials.
The House Common education committee had declined to hear the bill, which would have effectively stopped it from advancing. However the author and the majority leadership referred it to the Government Oversight and Accountability, whose purview is not education, in an 11th hour effort to push the bill through.
Says Lisa Hoyos, the Director of the pro-science education organization Climate Parents, “In 2017, Education Week ranked Oklahoma’s public education system 47th out of 50 in the nation, and 43rd in chance for student success—why on earth would the legislature open the door to non-evidence based science into the classroom?” She added, “Everyone from parents, to the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association to the National Association for the Advancement of Science opposed this bill, and we are calling on Governor Fallin to stand with students and veto SB 393 if it gets to her desk.”
Says Theresa Goughenour, a Tusla mother of four, Climate Parents member and lead-organizer of a pro-science march in Tulsa on April 22nd, “I want my kids to be prepared to succeed in STEM focused careers if they choose to, and it is simply irresponsible for state legislators to ignore the outpouring of opposition to the anti-science SB 393 from science teachers, students and parents.” She added, “It is in the best interest of every Oklahoma student to ensure that SB 393 is stopped from becoming law—and Governor Fallin all Oklahomans should stand up for science, especially at a time when it is under attack around the country.”
Both Climate Parents and Credo Action have circulated petitions against SB 393, and have vowed to keep fighting the bill as it moves to the House floor, and if it passes, the governor’s desk. The Climate Parents petition and CREDO petition are here.
A host of education and scientific organizations are joining parents, students and teachers in opposing SB 393, including the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association, Oklahoma State School Boards Association, Oklahoma Academy of Science, Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, National Council Against Censorship, National Association of Biology Teachers, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, National Science Teachers Association, National Center for Science Education, American Institute of Biological Sciences, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.