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Oklahoma House Panel OKs 'Critical Thinking' Science Education Bill

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In 1999, a Minnesota educator was removed from teaching biology, after school administrators learned he was focusing on creationism, and not evolution.

A bill now heading to the Oklahoma House floor would protect teachers from such backlash, if they chose to do something similar.

The House General Government Oversight and Accountability Committee voted 4-3 Thursday to send the Senate-passed bill to the House floor for a vote.

Senator Josh Brecheen (R-Coalgate), who authored Senate Bill 393, says he wants to protect teachers from district or state retaliation, if they choose to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories like climate change and evolution in the classroom.

But Dr. Elizabeth Allan, former president of the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association, says this could be damaging to students.

"We believe that this bill will not prepare students to be competitive in a very competitive environment. Our STEM workforce must know accurate science that is verified."

Allan says it could lead students to struggle to differentiate between science and non-science.

Supporters say the bill will help students develop critical thinking skills.

Emily Wendler was KOSU's education reporter from 2015 to 2019.
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