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By Barbara Forrest

UPDATE (March 5, 2011): The National Center for Science Education reports that the second creationist bill in Oklahoma, SB 554, appears to have died in committee.

SB 554, a hybrid of the ‘academic freedom’ antievolution strategy and the flawed Texas state science standards, appears to have died in committee on February 28, 2011, when a deadline for senate bills to be reported from committee passed. SB 554 was introduced by Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who described it in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 24, 2010) as ‘requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.’

The Louisiana Coalition for Science again congratulates the find work of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education and the other committed citizens who worked to protect the education of Oklahoma students! And Oklahoma has given Louisiana even more reason to follow their example and work just as hard to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act[end update]

Good news and kudos to Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE) for their good work in fighting for Oklahoma science education! Oklahoma HB 1551 (rtf) has been defeated in committee. The National Center for Science Education reports that OK Rep. Sally Kern’s bill, “which would, if enacted, encourage teachers to present the ‘scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses’ of ‘controversial’ topics such as evolution,” failed in the House Common Education Committee by a vote of 7-9. (It could be resurrected later in this session or in a future session.) The comments about the bill, however, were interesting.

The Oklahoman (February 23, 2011) reports comments by Rep. Fred Jordan, a House Common Education Committee member and a Republican, concerning HB 1551:

‘This bill is running circles around itself, and it’s going to make it harder and harder for teachers to know what to do in the classroom,’ said Jordan, R-Jenks. ‘We’re opening the door for teachers to kind of say whatever they want to say, whether it’s religious issues, creation, evolution,’ he said. ‘I really feel like we’re opening the door to where any and everything can come in.’  (emphasis added)

Rep. Jordan’s comments show that the issue of good science education is not a partisan issue. Everyone — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc. — should support teaching science by telling children the truth. And that includes telling the truth about evolution: it is the unifying concept of all biological disciplines.

The demise of HB 1551 leaves one Oklahoma creationist bill still in the pipeline, SB 554, which remains in the Senate Education Committee. This bill was introduced by Sen. Josh Brecheen, who in December 2010 candidly described his bill:

I have introduced legislation requiring every publically [sic] funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution using the known science, even that which conflicts with Darwin’s religion.  (emphasis added)

Gee, that comment rings a bell.

The fact that yet another creationist bill in yet another state has been rejected just adds more urgency to the effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act. This is especially important to the young people of Louisiana, whose education was targeted by the Louisiana Family Forum and the Discovery Institute.

Please contact the Louisiana high school and university students you know and ask them to call and e-mail (1) the Louisiana Senate Education Committee and (2) their respective members of the Senate and House of Representatives to ask them to vote in favor of the repeal bill that Senator Karen Carter Peterson is going to introduce. Zack Kopplin, a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, is leading the way.

Let’s get going!

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