Massachusetts bill seeks to protect science education

When a bill that would require Massachusetts's state science standards to "include only peer-reviewed and age-appropriate subject matter" was discussed in the Joint Committee on Education on July 9, 2019, the sponsor explained that it would keep climate change denial out of the science classroom, according to the Lowell Sun (July 10, 2019).

Massachusetts's HB 471, introduced by Kenneth I. Gordon (D-District 21), would, if enacted, provide that:

The standards for the subject of science shall include only peer-reviewed and age-appropriate subject matter; provided, (1) peer-reviewed subject matter shall be defined as conducted in compliance with accepted scientific methods; and (2) age-appropriate shall be defined as topics, messages, and teaching methods suitable to particular ages or age groups of children and adolescents, based on developing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capacity typical for the age or age group.

During the hearing, Gordon observed that "scientific evidence supports the existence of climate change."

Speaking in favor of the bill, Alan MacRobert, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine, cited other instances of "science denialism" — belief in a flat Earth, suspicion of vaccines, and rejection of evolution — as "evidence that science education needs to be strengthened and kept understandable against those who would deliberately [sow] confusion."

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.