On January 28 I reported that the South Dakota state Senate had approved one of those “teach all sides” bills used by creationists to sneak divinity into the science classroom, and to oppose evolution and global warming. The bill read like this:
FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act 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.
“. . . . providing additional latitude for teachers to explain potential flaws in theories and allowing them to provide alternate scientific theories without fear of retribution would benefit students’ critical thinking skills.
[Monroe] said current state science standards on evolution and climate change are “one-directional directives” that don’t allow for analysis.
The original bill was passed by a vote of 23-12 over the advice of a consortium of teachers, scientists, school administrators, and even the State Board of Education. It looked as though the bill, which would then go to the House, would be passed, since the House had a substantial Republican majority. But, as the Argus Leader reported, the House killed the bill in committee:
PIERRE — South Dakota lawmakers on Wednesday defeated a bill that would have allowed teachers to address strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories like evolution and climate change.
The House Education Committee voted to send the bill to the 41st day, effectively killing the proposal, on an 11-4 vote.
The decision came after almost an hour and a half of testimony. Supporters including Republican lawmakers, anti-Common Core groups, conservative advocacy groups and concerned parents said the measure would give teachers to explain potential flaws in theories like evolution and climate change.
. . . Ultimately lawmakers on the committee disagreed and felt that passing the bill could create problems for local school boards and could send a message that teachers could bring theories like Creationism in discussing evolution.
National and state science education groups celebrated the bill’s defeat Wednesday, while conservative groups and others lamented its demise.
As, Hugh Britten, a biology professor at the University of South Dakota, wrote me while sending the link:
This is a huge relief and shows the power of personal involvement in politics. In addition to the NCSE [National Center for Science Education] and national Teachers’ organization speaking out against this bill, science professors from around the state signed a letter denouncing the bill. Since I was a signatory, I like to think the letter was influential. As I mentioned in a comment on your earlier piece, there was also vocal opposition to this bill at our town hall-style meeting with our local legislators. Anyway, all this and it’s National Cherry Pie Day to boot!