Antiscience legislation dies in Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Senate Bill 613 (PDF) and Senate Bill 662 (PDF), which would have empowered science denial in the classroom, died in committee on February 25, 2021.

Styled "the Academic Freedom Act" and "the Oklahoma Science Education Act," respectively, the similar bills would have ostensibly provided Oklahoma's teachers with the right to help students "understand, analyze, critique[,] and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught," while prohibiting state and local administrators from exercising supervisory responsibility.

No particular scientific theories were identified as controversial by the bills, but a string of similar bills in the Oklahoma legislature — most recently Senate Bill 393 in 2017, which passed the Senate before failing to receive a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives — were clearly aimed specifically at evolution. Senate Bill 613's sole sponsor, David Bullard (R-District 6), introduced the similar Senate Bill 14 in 2019; it was rejected by the Senate Committee on Education.

Resistance to the bills was coordinated by the grassroots pro-science-education organization Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.

branch@ncse.ngo

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