The cast of characters testifying for Senate Bill 55 Wednesday supports my thesis that Senator Jeff Monroe’s bill purporting to “protect the teaching of certain scientific information is really just a ploy in his ongoing drive to force his Jesus into our public schools. Dale Bartscher, Florence Thompson, and Cindy Flakoll—fundie Dominionists all—told Senate Education Tuesday to pass SB 55, and Senate Education’s four theocrats—Monroe, Bolin, Jensen, and Klumb—said okee-dokee. Moderate Republicans Soholt and Solano and Democrat Heinert listened to the educators in the room—the Associated School Boards, the School Administrators, the Department of Education, the Large Schools, the teachers union, science teacher Anne Lewis, educator and biologist Dr. Rhea Waldman—and voted no (thank you).
The Senate showed a similar failure to grasp the difference between real science and Senator Monroe’s tremulous religion, passing SB 55 23–12. The majority ignored science teacher Lewis’s warning that Monroe is angling to undermine science and bring religion to science class:
…she takes issue with Monroe’s use of the language of “strengths and weaknesses of scientific information . . .”
That isn’t how scientists and science teachers should speak about science, Lewis said.
“In science, you talk about probability, you talk about uncertainty.” Such words “don’t have the value connotations that strength and weakness have, and takes scientific discussions far afield to talk about values more than data, she said. Especially for younger students, she said.
And she sees in those two terms what she calls Monroe’s “long game” to create an atmosphere in public school science classes that will incorrectly characterize scientific ideas and theories with a goal of posing creationism as a valid alternative to accepted scientific theories of evolution, or skepticism of climate change as scientifically equivalent [Stephen Lee, “Pierre Senator Sees Early Success for His Science Ed Bill,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2017.01.27].
If the House insists on following the Senate in its dunderheadedness, I propose a compromise:
- If Senator Monroe is sincerely concerned that teachers are being (in the words of SB 55) “prohibited from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information,” and
- if Senator Monroe really believes (as his borrowing of language for SB 55 and his past bills from the creationism-preaching Discovery Institute) that his religious doctrine constitutes “science,” then
- then Senator Monroe must accept that SB 55 gives teachers the right in public school classrooms to help students understand the weaknesses of his religious doctrine.
Next time I substitute in science class, Senator Monroe, will you protect my right to point out the uselessness of your religion in predicting empirical results? Next time I substitute in social studies, Senator Monroe, will you protect my right to point out the weakness of a religion that allows you and believers like you to elect a President who violates more of the Ten Commandments than I, an atheist, do? (Trust me, Senator Monroe: I can do that in an objective, scientific fashion, exactly as SB 55 dictates.)
If you want your religion in my classroom, and if you want a law guaranteeing my right to point out the weaknesses in your religion, well, by all means, keep SB 55 coming.