Oklahoma Moves to Teach Creationism Alongside Evolution Under 'Academic Freedom' Guise

A House bill that, if signed into law, could lower the quality of scientific education in Oklahoma public schools has been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee and was on the agenda for its meeting today.

House Bill 1674, dubbed the "Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act," requires school districts to "create an environment" that would allow teachers to teach the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories. The bill, which has passed the House, is considered by many state academics as a backdoor attempt to present creationism ideas as an alternative "scientific" theory to the theory of evolution in classrooms.

Normally, such a bill has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee, which has killed similar efforts in the past. This year, however, it was assigned to the Senate Rules Committee. Political observers contend the full Senate will most likely vote to approve the bill and Gov. Mary Fallin will sign it into law if the rules committee approves it.

It cannot be understated that this bill will lower the quality of education in Oklahoma if some districts feel compelled to present the pseudo-science of intelligent design, which presents creationist ideas as fact. This will help to keep the state's college graduation level low when compared to the national average because some students will be extremely unprepared for general science courses. The state will also garner negative national attention for trying to replace the scientific principle in schools with right-wing religious dogma.

The National Center for Science Education, Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union are among those organizations that oppose the bill.

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