These bills are dishonest at their core. They purport to eliminate religious discrimination in public schools and grant academic freedom, allowing teachers to present the so-called “full range” of scientific views, including “valid criticisms” of scientific theories, especially evolution. The intention of the authors, however, is to open the door to presenting unscientific sectarian religious views in science classes. The criticisms they wish to introduce are not the result of rigorous scientific investigation, but are a mishmash of ignorance, misrepresentation and outright dishonesty.
On the other hand, scientific criticisms of creationism and intelligent design will also be allowed if these measures become law. Many like-minded citizens will insist schools do a better job of honestly teaching our children critical thinking. We will insist they understand the difference between an argument from ignorance and a factually supported scientific theory. We will insist they be honestly taught the scientific weaknesses of any religiously motivated material presented in science classes. Is that really what they want?
Worse, these bills deny parents their primary right to guide their children’s religious development. The courts have unequivocally ruled that teachers can not proselytize to students, recognizing these fundamental rights. Creationism, creation science and intelligent design have been consistently determined in the courts to be expressions of religion. Presentation of any creationist doctrine or intelligent design fairy tales to counter valid, factually supported science in the public schools will result in federal lawsuits. Those school districts will lose, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Lastly, enactment of these bills will damage Oklahoma’s economy. It’s obvious to the state Chamber that the state’s projected image is vital when recruiting new business. These bills seriously damage that image. Additionally, it is more than obvious education in Oklahoma must improve. Our new governor, to her credit, has set improvement of education and creation of jobs as priorities. This foolish legislation clearly compromises these efforts. Let’s not do this to our children or Oklahoma.