Why are conservatives so committed to passing legislation that contradicts their own conservative principles and their own competing bills?
Rep. Tony Randolph (R-35/Rapid City) has filed House Bill 1270, another one of those extremist right-wing “teach the controversy!” bills which is really about undermining science with creationism, climate change denialism, and other anti-intellectual pinings of religious radicals.
The text is deceptively simple:
No teacher may be prohibited from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48 [HB 1270, filed 2019.01.30].
Folks from the Randolph wing of wackiness have proposed similar bills over and over in Pierre. They’ve all failed, because enough sensible noses remain to smell the counterfactual creationism at their core or because folks reading the bills themselves realize they do nothing.
Contrary to the anti-teacher attitudes of Republican radicals, our K-12 science teachers already have all the knowledge, ethics, and academic freedom they need to teach science objectively and promote critical thinking. No additional law is needed to guarantee this good practice; HB 1270 thus epitomizes the opposite of the principle that true conservatives (like me?) espouse: government should take no action that is not absolutely necessary.
The only people trying to prohibit the teaching of certain issues are right-wingers like Randolph himself, who, along with five other HB 1270 sponsors, is also sponsoring HB 1108, which would prohibit the teaching of scientific information about gender prior to eighth grade. Since HB 1270 is not grade-specific, Randolph is supporting two laws that would contradict each other.
My Representative Drew Dennert is a co-sponsor of Randolph’s HB 1270: we’ll have to ask him what legal effect this bill is meant to have at tomorrow’s crackerbarrel, 10 a.m. at the Norther State University Student Union.