Bill Undermining Science Education Introduced in South Dakota
On January 11, 2017, a bill (Senate Bill 55) was introduced in the South Dakota Senate that would, if enacted, prevent any teacher being “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” in accordance with the state’s science education standards. Critics say this will undermine science education by giving teachers greater flexibility to present proven scientific theories, such as climate change and evolution, as controversial. It would also allow them to discuss discredited or unproven concepts. For this reason, the American Institute of Biological Sciences has opposed Senate Bill 55, stating:
“If [the bill] is enacted, it is our understanding that it would allow science teachers to miseducate South Dakota’s students about any topics they deemed controversial, and would prevent state and local administrators from intervening.”
On January 25, 2018, Senate Bill 55 was passed by the South Dakota. The bill was then referred to the South Dakota House of Representatives.
On February 22, the House Education Committee voted on a motion to pass the bill. The motion was defeated on a 6-9 vote. A subsequent motion to defer further consideration of the bill to the 41st legislative day – effectively killing it – also passed on an 11-4 vote.
On January 30, 2019, a new bill (House Bill 1270) containing identical language to Senate Bill 55 was introduced in the South Dakota legislature.