SB55 would have allowed teachers to essentially teach anything they want as science as long as they used certain language.
There area number of other bills in state legislatures at the moment that would allow science denial in classrooms, including Indiana’s Senate Resolution 17, Oklahoma’s Senate Bill 393 and Texas’s House Bill 1485. Since 2014, at least 60 “academic freedom” bills — which permit teachers to paint established science as controversial — have been filed in state legislatures all over the country. Louisiana passed one in 2008, and Tennessee did, too, in 2012.
There was strong opposition to the South Dakota bill from the science and education communities, including from the South Dakota Department of Education, the School Administrators of South Dakota, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Center for Science Education and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
Given President Trump’s denial/questioning of man-made climate change and Vice President Pence’s denial of the theory of evolution — which is the animating principle of modern biology — there is some fear among science educators that state legislators will push through new anti-science legislation. In South Dakota, it didn’t happen.
All of that brings us to this concise message:
In the center of the displayed work of first-grade students is this statement: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether you believe in it or not.”
The students’ work on the left of the board are about astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and on the right, students finish this sentence: “Kids are scientists when … ” Among the answers: “they create new things,” and when “they jump in puddles.”
Dan Brown, incidentally, is a National Board-certified teacher who taught elementary school and high school English in New York City and Washington, D.C. He is the author of the first-year-teaching memoir “The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle” and is co-director of a nonprofit organization called Educators Rising.