A new "controversial issues" bill in Maine

Maine's statehouse.

A bill in the Maine legislature would ban public school teachers from practicing "indoctrination" — and contains a provision that could adversely affect science education. House Paper 1034 (PDF), introduced in the Maine House of Representatives on April 11, 2023, by Katrina Smith (R-District 62) and seven of her colleagues, would, if enacted, require the state board of education to adopt rules to prevent public school teachers in the state from engaging in what it describes as "political, ideological[,] or religious advocacy."

The rules would in particular require teachers to "provide students with materials supporting both sides of a controversial issue being addressed and to present both sides in a fair-minded, nonpartisan manner," where a "controversial issue" is defined as "a point made in the most recent electoral party platform of any party that is qualified for the ballot at the state or federal level." As Ars Technica (January 29, 2019) observed in discussing a spate of similar measures, "a large number of state party platforms specifically mention evolution and climate change."

House Paper 1034 is substantially similar to House Paper 395 in 2021, which was opposed by the Maine Education Association, the Maine Principals' Association, the Maine Curriculum Leaders Association, the Maine School Boards Association, and the Maine School Superintendents Association, before it was rejected by the legislature, as NCSE previously reported. A preceding version of the bill, House Paper 433 in 2019, was unanimously defeated in committee, as NCSE previously reported.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.