Representative Phil Jensen (R-33/Rapid City), well-known for his opposition to science, intelligence, and freedom, pretends to support the intelligence and freedom of science teachers with House Bill 1172, a bill purporting to “assist students in objectively reviewing scientific information.” The text consists of one sentence:
A classroom teacher may not be prohibited from helping students enrolled in a school district understand, analyze, critique, or review, in an objective scientific manner, the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses that are aligned to the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48 [HB 1172, as filed by Rep. Phil Jensen, 2022.01.27].
Why would we need a statute to state that teachers can do exactly what we hire them to do? Because that’s not what HB 1172 is trying to do. Representative Jensen is simply recycling the Newspeak radical Republicans use to cloak their fantastic theocratic hokum about creationism, rejection of climate change, and other anti-science tremblings in talk of “objective” both-sidesism. Jensen’s bill copies language that his former radical right-wing colleague Jeff Monroe trotted out multiple times in “teach the controversy” bills that Jensen has regularly co-sponsored.
As I have to say every time Jensen and Monroe and other cranks trot out this trash, teachers already have the freedom and duty to help students understand real science and develop the critical thinking skills that will help them avoid falling for the bunk people like Jensen peddle. Monroe’s bills all failed because they are completely unnecessary; so should Jensen’s charade this Session… unless legislators would like to amend HB 1172 into a genuine protection of academic freedom and intellectual inquiry in our K-12 classrooms. Let’s strike “scientific” from the bill. Let’s broaden the bill to make clear that we are referring to history, civics, and literature, where Jensen’s party is waging a real war against objective and constructive education. Let’s add language to protect teachers and schools and libraries as they help students access books and materials that help them objectively and accurately understand our nation’s history and culture and study ways to make America better.
But that conversation is likely beyond the capacity and desire of a majority of the members of House Education, which hears HB 1172 tomorrow morning at 7:45 a.m. in Capitol Room 413. So let’s just settle for trashing this bill, just like its predecessors, and moving on to practical legislation.