New antiscience legislation in Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Senate Bill 613 (PDF) and Senate Bill 662 (PDF), which would empower science denial in the classroom, were prefiled in the Oklahoma legislature on January 21, 2021.

Styled "the Academic Freedom Act" and "the Oklahoma Science Education Act," respectively, the similar bills would ostensibly provide 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 theories are identified as controversial, 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.

The legislative session begins on February 1, 2021; concerned Oklahomans are urged to get in touch with 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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