Section 1. … It is the intent of the Legislature that students in public school receive a comprehensive education in science and learn how to compare and contrast a variety of scientific viewpoints.
Section 2. A new section of law … reads as follows:
2A. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 11-103.6 of Title 70 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the State Board of Education shall adopt curricular standards requiring the teaching of all relevant scientific information on the biological origins of life.
2B. The State Department of Education, or any school district or school district administrator, shall not prohibit any teacher from informing students about relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses of controversial topics in sciences, when being taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula. Controversial topics in sciences include but are not limited to biological origins of life and biological evolution.
2C. The State Board of Education shall adopt standards and curricula that require students in all science courses to:
2C1. Know the definition of science and understand that it has limitations. Science, as defined by the National Academy of Sciences, is the “use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process.” This vast body of changing and increasing knowledge is described by physical, mathematical, and conceptual models. Students should know that some questions are outside the realm of science because they deal with phenomena that are not scientifically testable;
2C2. Analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student;
2C3. Communicate and apply scientific information extracted from various sources such as current events, news reports, published journal articles, and marketing materials;
2C4. Know that scientific hypotheses are tentative and testable statements that must be capable of being supported or not supported by observational evidence. Hypotheses of durable explanatory power which have been tested over a wide variety of conditions are incorporated into theories;
2C5. Know that scientific theories are based on natural and physical phenomena and are capable of being tested by multiple independent researchers. Unlike hypotheses, scientific theories are well-established and highly-reliable explanations, but may be subject to change as new areas of science and new technologies are developed; and
2C6. Distinguish between scientific hypotheses and scientific theories;
2D. The State Board of Education shall adopt standards and curricula that require students in grades eight through twelve to:
2D1. Analyze and evaluate how evidence of common ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil record, biogeography, and homologies, including anatomical, molecular, and developmental;
2D2. Analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record;
2D3. Analyze and evaluate how natural selection produces change in populations, not individuals;
2D4. Analyze and evaluate how the elements of natural selection, including inherited variation, the potential of a population to produce more offspring than can survive, and a finite supply of environmental resources, result in differential reproductive success;
2D5. Analyze and evaluate the relationship of natural selection to adaptation and to the development of diversity in and among species;
2D6. Analyze and evaluate the effects of other evolutionary mechanisms, including genetic drift, gene flow, mutation, and recombination;
2D7. Analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell; and
2D8. Know that taxonomy is a branching classification based on the shared characteristics of organisms and can change as new discoveries are made and be able to: (a.) define taxonomy and recognize the importance of a standardized taxonomic system to the scientific community, (b.) categorize organisms using a hierarchical classification system based on similarities and differences shared among groups, and (c.) compare characteristics of taxonomic groups, including archaea, bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, and animals.
2D9. Analyze and evaluate a variety of fossil types such as transitional fossils, proposed transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and alignment with scientific explanations in light of this fossil data;
2D10. Explain how sedimentation, fossilization, and speciation affect the degree of completeness of the fossil record; and
2D11. Evaluate the significance of the terminal Permian and Cretaceous mass extinction events, including adaptive radiations organisms after the events. Transitional fossils, proposed transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and alignment with scientific explanations in light of this fossil data.
2E. No teacher shall be reassigned, terminated, disciplined or otherwise discriminated against for providing scientific information being taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula.
2F. This section only protects the teaching of scientific information and specifically does not protect the promotion of any religion, religious doctrine, or religious belief.
2G. Students may be held accountable for knowing and understanding material taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula, but they shall not be penalized in any way for subscribing to a particular position of a scientific debate.
2H. For purposes of this section, “scientific information” means information derived from observation, experimentation and analysis of the natural world conducted to determine the nature of or principles behind the aspects being studied. Scientific information is not excluded from this definition solely on the basis that it coincides with the tenets of some or all religious beliefs or doctrines. This definition does exclude information based solely on religious writings, beliefs or doctrines.
Section 3. This act shall become effective July 1, 2011.
Section 4. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.
There it is. It’s ridiculously long and detailed. Portions are probably unnecessary because they’re already in the standards. Perhaps that verbiage was included with the expectation that the creationist portions will escape everyone’s notice. That’s not going to happen. You noticed the usual “strengths and weaknesses” and the supplementary materials provisions, and the protection of students who believe “scientific information” that coincides with their religious beliefs. And you didn’t miss that little zinger about the complexity of the cell.
We have no idea what Oklahoma’s legislature is going to do with this thing, but we’ll all get a chance to find out.