South Dakota Republicans Propose Legislation to Weaken the Teaching of Evolution in Schools

If you put your money on South Dakota as the first state to propose legislation to weaken science standards in school, you win!

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State Senator Jeff Monroe and five of his colleagues are joined by five State Representatives — all Republican, of course — to sponsor SB 55. It would amend existing law to include the following line:

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.

“Strengths and weaknesses” is just code for information that weakens confidence in science — specifically evolution. To be sure, if that information were actually out there, teachers should absolutely bring it up. However, it’s not out there, and this legislation is intended to create a way for teachers to promote Intelligent Design (which has no credibility among working scientists) in the classroom without consequence.

By the way, this isn’t Monroe’s first time trying to make this happen. In 2014, he sponsored Senate Bill 112 that said virtually the same thing, with one notable difference:

No school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.

You see what he did there? He explicitly promoted Intelligent Design. He gave away his hand. And the backlash was swift, since he scrapped his own legislation a week later, saying, “the amount of good that would have come from the bill would have been outweighed by all the misconceptions people have had.”

He was wrong about that. Nothing good would’ve come from the bill, and there were no misconceptions. Science advocates knew exactly what he was doing and they screamed it from the rooftops.

The new legislation avoids the “Intelligent Design” phrase and uses the “strengths and weaknesses” euphemism instead. But make no mistake: It’s not better legislation. It’s the same anti-science bill that doesn’t deserve to get out of committee.

Monroe wants the students of South Dakota to be as ignorant as he is.

Don’t let it happen. If you live in South Dakota, contact your representatives and urge them to vote against this legislation.

(via National Center for Science Education. Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.