West Virginia, Florida make moves to undermine science education

Image of a girl holding up a ball-and-stick model of a molecule in a classroom.

Enlarge (credit: Aleksandar Nakic)

Two recent bills introduced at the state level could spell trouble for science education. One of them is in West Virginia, where the state Senate has approved a bill that would allow teachers to tell students that the Universe is the result of intelligent design, an idea that was developed to avoid prohibitions on teaching creationism. While a court held that teaching intelligent design was an unconstitutional imposition of religion, a recent Supreme Court decision weakened the legal foundations of that ruling.

Meanwhile, Florida's thinking much bigger, with the State House considering a bill that would say the legislature disapproves of college courses that cover "theoretical or exploratory" topics being used to fulfill general education requirements. That would seemingly rule out most science classes.

First, the second Virginia

The bill under consideration in West Virginia, Senate Bill 619, is a truly bizarre hybrid. Two of its provisions are basic housekeeping functions regarding the role of teachers in changing final grades and determining whether students are promoted to the following grade level. But then there's the third provision: "Teachers in public schools, including public charter schools, that include any one or more of grades kindergarten through 12, may teach intelligent design as a theory of how the universe and/or humanity came to exist."

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