Oklahoma Creationism Bill for 2019

This has been a bad year for creationist legislation. The few states that have considered such nonsense have all failed to pass anything, so we were waiting for the new year to begin when state legislatures will once again become active. But suddenly, when we weren’t expecting anything, our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) posted this news item: Antiscience legislation in Oklahoma. It was written by Glenn Branch.

Oklahoma usually has some kind of creationist legislation cooking, but they didn’t in 2018. One of their hard-core creationist legislators (Josh Brecheen) tried it the year before, but his bill didn’t go anywhere — see Oklahoma’s 2017 Creationism Bill Is ‘Blocked’.

Here are some excerpts from NCSE’s article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Oklahoma’s Senate Bill 14 (PDF), which would empower science denial in the classroom, was prefiled in the Oklahoma legislature.

Prefiled means it’s for next year’s legislative session, currently set to convene on 04 February and end on 31 May. The sole sponsor of the thing is David Bullard. That’s his page at the legislature’s website. They don’t give any personal information about him. NCSE says:

Styled “the Oklahoma Science Education Act,” the bill 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 supervisory responsibility? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! NCSE then tells us:

No particular theories are identified as controversial, and the sole sponsor, David Bullard (R-District 6), is new to the legislature, but his predecessor, Josh Brecheen, notoriously filed a string of similar bills … .

Yes, we know about Brecheen’s string of creationist bills — but we didn’t know he would no longer be in the Oklahoma legislature.

That’s pretty much all NCSE has to tell us, so leaving out non-essential verbiage, here are the guts of Bullard’s new bill, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:

SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Oklahoma Science Education Act.”

SECTION 2. A. The State Board of Education, school district boards of education, school district superintendents and school principals
shall endeavor to create an environment within public school districts that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.

B. The State Board of Education, school district boards of education, school district superintendents and school principals shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies. Teachers shall be permitted 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.

C. Neither the State Board of Education, nor any school district board of education, school district superintendent nor school principal shall prohibit any teacher in a public school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

D. This section only protects the teaching of scientific information and shall not be construed to advance or inhibit any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non beliefs or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s the same nonsense Brecheen kept trying to get into law, and it’s based on the anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

You can follow the progress of Bullard’s new bill here: Bill Information for SB 14. Nothing has happened yet, and it won’t until the legislature convenes in February.

Although Brecheen is gone, it appears that Bullard will be carrying on in his footsteps, attempting to get idiotic laws passed in Oklahoma. We’ll be keeping you advised.

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9 responses to “Oklahoma Creationism Bill for 2019

  1. “Oklahoma usually has some kind of creationist legislation cooking, but they didn’t in 1918.”

    Probably true, but I can’t imagine why it’s relevant.

  2. Dullard is another in a long line of partially educated Oklahoma dim wits who drift into politics. This guy is a high school history teacher who knows nothing about science or probably anything else. He’s just blah-blah Republican dolt who will waste is time in the legislature, rattle around for a few years and end up running a Tire Shop in Duncan if he’s lucky.

  3. You were so subtle, Mark Germano, that it took me a while to realize my error. All fixed now. Thanks.

  4. Job interview…where were you at school?
    ..In oklahoma…
    We will let you know if selected…
    throws resume into trash after he leaves.

  5. The photo on David Bullard’s campaign website looks like a police department mug shot.

  6. Also, the layout of his site is borked in Firefox.

  7. Think of a high-tech person looking for a job – or a high-tech company looking to relocate – and they realize what kind of schools are available in the area.

  8. I don’t see a huge problem. As a retired high school science teacher that dealt with evolution, I would simply NOT allow creationist teaching in my classroom under this bill because they are NOT (as decided in the Dover decision) based in science. When I taught evolution I began our units explaining that what we would be learning was the prevailing scientific understanding of science as explained by scientists in the field. Period. I never had a problem.

  9. I like to thank you K-12 science teachers for dealing with evolution with honesty and courage.