Oklahoma almost became the third state after Louisiana and Tennessee to have a creationist so-called ‘academic freedom act.’ THANKS to HUNDREDS of individuals and many organizations that sent messages opposing the bills (especially to the entire Senate) Oklahoma has escaped again. The National Center for Science Education posted a review of the session within 30 minutes after we notified them that the Legislature had adjourned without passing the bills.
In addition to the organizations listed in the NCSE report below these organizations also sent messages and urged their members to respond as well: Oklahoma Academy of Science, Oklahoma Science Teachers Association, Interfaith Alliances of OKC and Tulsa, several special interest groups on Yahoo, National Association of Human Genetics, The National Association of Biology Teachers, Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Other organizations that wish to remain anonymous lobbied directly against the bills. The Tulsa World had a staff editorial against the bills and others wrote op-eds, letters to editors and posted on state political blogs. This was the most response we have had in the past decade!
The blog ‘The Sensuous Curmudgeon’ also posted an item and ended the post with: “A lot of the credit for this result is due to the tireless efforts of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education. But we’ve seen this movie before. The mummy always manages to rise again, so rest up, guys. The forces of madness will be back next year.”}
Here is the NCSE posting:
“When the Oklahoma legislature adjourned sine die on May 25, 2012, no fewer than three legislative attempts to attack the teaching of evolution and of climate change were finally laid to rest. All three would have encouraged teachers in the public schools of the Sooner State to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution” and “global warming.”
Senate Bill 1742 was explicitly modeled in part on the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, passed and enacted in 2008 as Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1. The sole sponsor of SB 1742 was Josh Brecheen (R-District 6). It was his second attempt at antievolution legislation; in 2011, he introduced Senate Bill 554, which he described in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 24, 2010) as “requiring every publically [sic] funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.” SB 1742 died in committee on March 1, 2012.
House Bill 1551 was originally introduced by Sally Kern (R-District 84) and was rejected by the House Common Education Committee in 2011, but it was resurrected by Gus Blackwell (R-District 61) and passed by that committee, which heard no testimony from the public, in 2012. HB 1551 passed the House of Representatives on a 56-12 vote on March 15, 2012. The bill was then sent to the Senate Education Committee, where it died on April 5, 2012, the deadline for single-assigned house bills (such as HB 1551) to be reported from their senate committees.
A last-ditch effort was a proposal from Steve Russell (R-District 45) to amend House Bill 2341, which dealt with unrelated educational matters (extending a deadline by which local school districts are required to meet certain standards for media, equipment, and textbooks) and was passed by the House on March 7, 2012, to include the language of HB 1551. The amendment would have been considered when the bill came to a floor vote in the Senate, but it was not brought to the floor before April 26, 2012, the deadline for bills to receive their third reading in the opposite house.
Organizations opposing these efforts to attack the teaching of evolution and of climate change included the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and — as always — the indefatigable grassroots organization Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.”
TEACHERS’ WORKSHOP OPENINGS STILL AVAILABLE.
EVOLUTION IN OKLAHOMA AND TEXAS SCIENCE CLASSES
Presented by Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, the National Science Foundation (NSF-0845314), and the University of Oklahoma Biological Station.
Who: High school and Junior High School science teachers and college majors in science education from Oklahoma and northern Texas (approximately from Texarkana, to Dallas-Fort Worth and suburbs to Wichita Falls, Texas)
When: Friday Oct. 5 (6:00 PM) through Sunday Oct. 7, 2012 (3:00 PM)
Where: The University of Oklahoma Biological Station on Lake Texoma, OK
Topics covered will include:
The nature of science and latest developments in evolutionary biology
· Curriculum development and state standards
· Resources on teaching evolution for teachers
· Discussion of participants’ favorite lesson plans and classroom experiences
· Dealing with classroom and community controversy
· Legislation and the political landscape.
Participants will earn a certificate of participation for professional development credit.
· Dr. Julie Angle (Teaching and Curriculum Leadership, OSU)
· Dr. Richard Broughton (Zoology, OU)
· Dr. Ola Fincke (Zoology, OU)
· Dr. Victor Hutchison (Zoology, OU)
· Dr. Cecil Lewis (Anthropology, OU)
· Dr. Joseph Maness (Biological Sciences, Southwestern OSU)
· Bob Melton (Science Curriculum Specialist, Putnam City Schools)
· Dr. Stanley Rice (Biological Sciences, Southeastern OSU)
All materials (including two books on teaching evolution), accommodations, and meals at the UOBS are included. The only cost for participants is a $25 registration fee. Registration deadline is Sept. 14, 2012. Early registration is advised as places are limited to 30 registrants.