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Legislation Would Muzzle Science Teachers in Virginia

Science teachers in Virginia with an opinion about vaccines, raw milk, or genetically modified organisms in food would be best advised to keep their mouths shut under the currently proposed House Bill 207.

Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) is the “chief patron,” or sponsor, of the bill that local media suggest is probably aimed at how evolution is taught in Virginia. But the language of HB 207 is so broad that just about any controversial topic involving science would fall under its restrictions.

According to a report by the National Center for Science Education, the bill forbids “any public elementary or secondary school teacher from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in science class.”

HB 207 is directed at the Virginia State Board of Education and local school boards, which are also directed to “create an environment in public elementary and secondary schools that encourage students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific controversies in science classes.”

Education boards are directed to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present scientific controversies in science class.” It also contains a clause against religious discrimination.

The National Center for Science Education, which defends the teaching of evolution and climate change, labeled HB 207 as an “anti-science bill.”

© Food Safety News
  • tallen2007

    Is there any question of why our students are so far behind other developed countries in science?

  • Mr.HACCP

    I really hope this bill doesn’t pass. It literally stifles children from thinking about science. The whole purpose of science is to use and apply basic knowledge to comprehend the grand unknowns of the universe– the inability to praise innovative ideas or critiques flawed ones actually makes this an “anti-science” bill. If this bill was present in the past then we would still believe the Sun revolves around Earth, not showering helps someone get over the Bubonic Plague, and “cold” is an element.

  • flame

    If you want religion in schools send your child/children to a religious school and build more religious schools.

  • ethanspapa

    Why do fanatics continue to destroy the separation of church and state. It is embedded in our Constitution. Pick a paragraph. Oh there it is. Christmas and Easter is more than enough. That is the main reason this country got started, religious persecution and taxes.

  • W.I

    Correct me if i’m wrong…since i am curious and a bit puzzle because of this article. The law is trying to prevent students to understand science deeply in Virginia state???

  • Oginikwe

    “. . .the bill forbids “any public elementary or secondary school teacher from
    helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an
    objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of
    existing scientific theories covered in science class.”

    Why? Because educating packs of critical thinkers makes them unhappy working at Walmart and McDonald’s?

  • rossid

    No wonder the states with the worst performing students are in Red States (yahoo news yesterday). Knowledge is power and the GOP prefers we have neither.

  • mrmatt

    I don’t think this is quite accurate. The article only quoted a partial sentence. Here is a link to the bill http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?141+ful+HB207 and the sentence that was partially quoted actually says “Neither the Board nor any local school board, division superintendent, or school board employee shall prohibit any public elementary or secondary school teacher from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in science classes.”

    • Millicent Fenwick

      I think you are right. There are two things going on with how this is worded. First, it is a double negative – I interpret it to say that “[these entities] shall not prohibit the teachers from helping kids understand/analyze/critique/review theories…”. Second, it is badly worded (ungrammatical). When using “neither,” most school kids know – maybe “Dickie” missed that lesson or was badly home-schooled – that only two options are presented.

      Another question is, why would we expect fourth graders to “critique” long-standing scientific theories? They do not have the background to do this. I don’t remember being asked to find flaws in theories that were presented to us in school. I wouldn’t have known where to begin, except to google nut-case web sites presenting misinformation based on religious beliefs or other biases rooted in some fanaticism. (Only we didn’t have google; just the encyclopedia.)

  • Heather

    Food Safety News – Your link to House Bill 2007 doesn’t go anywhere – could you please link to the bill or another article on the subject – thanks!

  • Heather

    The actual bill says it Won’t prohibit teachers “from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in science classes.”

  • cloroxinthegenepoolplz

    I am reminded that genius has its limits, but stupidity is not thus encumbered.

  • jafo2me

    The only purpose of the Bill no matter how they frame it is to shut down any discussion about vaccines, raw milk, or genetically modified organisms in food. They could care less what your kids think about “evolution or creationism” which is the bogeyman in the argument.

    You will not talk about Al Gore making billions on Climate change selling carbon credits, deadly combatants in vaccines or Monsanto GMO corn killing “ALL” the rats after being fed to them over 90 days…or we will do what we do best when you refuse to obey us…

    We will take you away at the point of a gun and put you in prison. You can always tell what side of the truth your on by what it takes to enforce it.

  • Creek Sailer

    The author of this article needs to re-read the bill. It is intended to do exactly the opposite of what is stated here. That is, it says that school boards and principals cannot prevent teachers from discussing the strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories. Search for Virginia house bill 207 and you will find a number of articles about this, as well as the full text of the bill itself. In fact, the web site for the National Center for Science Education does a good job of explaining why this is an anti-science bill, something this article fails to do.

  • JFH123

    Although this is an unnecessary law aimed at allowing faith based, or pseudo-science based theories into our science classroom, the article is incorrect. The bill does not forbid “any public elementary or secondary school teacher……” it actually prohibits the administration from interfering with this. Here is text from bill
    “Neither the Board nor any local school board, division
    superintendent, or school board employee shall prohibit any public
    elementary or secondary school teacher…..”. It’s still a stupid bill.

  • http://www.beaksandnoses.net/ ibnevrywhre

    vaccines should only be given by parental concent providing the parent has done his or her research and understands both sides of this argument. schools should not decide for the individual nor should science or government. the government has proven to us that they are unable to be truthful and that includes CDC. plus the children today need to discuss all the issues regarding vaccines