Antiscience legislation in Ohio

Ohio's House Bill 597, introduced in the House of Representatives on July 28, 2014, would, if enacted, require the state's science standards to "prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another" — and a sponsor of the bill told a newspaper that it would allow local school districts to teach creationism alongside evolution and global warming denial alongside climate science.

Andy Thompson (R-District 95), who along with Matt Huffman (R-District 4) introduced HB 597, which is primarily aimed at repealing Common Core, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer (August 19, 2014) that the clause in question (in the newspaper's words) "prevents teachers and schools from only presenting one side of a political and scientific debate — global warming, for example, without presenting the other side."

Asked whether the law would require "intelligent design" to be taught alongside evolution, Thompson explained, "I don't know that it needs to be treated on par, but districts will be able to choose based on their judgment." Asked whether faith-based beliefs belong in a science class, he demurred: "I'm not prescribing that to classes," Thompson said. "There's not one settled perspective they should be doing, to another perspective."

"The problem here," explained NCSE's executive director Ann Reid, "is that there simply isn't a debate within the scientific community over evolution or over climate change. Instead, there's a consensus, with the vast majority of scientists, of whatever political or religious inclinations, agreeing on the facts. By encouraging local school districts to misrepresent the overwhelming scientific consensus, HB 597 is a recipe for miseducation."

According to the Columbus Dispatch (August 19, 2014), HB 597 was assigned not to the House Education Committee but to the House Rules and Reference Committee, "which is run by top House GOP leaders and rarely hears bills." Huffman told the Dispatch that "he plans to hold six hearings over three weeks. The plan is to vote it out of committee to set up a full House vote soon after the November election."