Monday, February 6, 2017

An ‘alternative facts’ South Dakota bill sparks fears for science education in the Trump era - The Washington Post

An ‘alternative facts’ South Dakota bill sparks fears for science education in the Trump era - The Washington Post:

An ‘alternative facts’ South Dakota bill sparks fears for science education in the Trump era


This is the text of S.B. 55 that just passed in the South Dakota Senate, which purports “to protect the teaching of certain scientific information.”
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That chapter 13-1 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
No teacher may be prohibited from helping 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.
It doesn’t mention any specific scientific subject, so what does it actually mean?
The Argus Leader quoted Deb Wolf, a high school science instructional coach in the Sioux Falls School District, as saying the bill says that teachers can essentially teach what they want in science class as long as they do it in a certain way: “This is horrible, but let’s say I believe in eugenics.” S.B. 55 “says that I couldn’t be prohibited, I couldn’t be stopped from teaching that, as long as I did it in an objective scientific manner, and it doesn’t specify what that means.”
The bill is one of four that have been introduced so far in 2017 in state legislatures — the others are in Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas  — that would allow science denial in the classroom. Since 2014, at least 60 “academic freedom” bills  — which permit teachers to paint established science as controversial — have been filed in state legislatures all over the country. Louisiana passed one in 2008, and Tennessee did, too, in 2012.
Some version of the South Dakota bill has been introduced into the state’s legislature for each of the past four years, but this is the first time it passed in the house in which it originated. The Senate approved it, 23 to 12.  The state House is dominated by Republicans, so critics of the legislation are hoping they can stop it in the House Education Committee before it reaches the floor.
Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit that defends the teaching of evolution and climate change, agrees with Wolf’s reading of the bill and said he is concerned that President Trump’s denial/questioning of man-made climate change and Vice President Pence’s denial of the theory of evolution could encourage state legislators to push through new anti-science legislation.
“Also of concern is the influence that it might have at the level of the local school district or the An ‘alternative facts’ South Dakota bill sparks fears for science education in the Trump era - The Washington Post:



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