January 22, 2011

Science Education Under Siege in Mississippi

creationismOne of my co-authors at Mississippi Atheists, Oliver, posted news of a disturbing development in the Mississippi legislature: the Student Religious Liberties Act of 2011. I would be surprised if similar measures were not already being proposed in other states, so I thought this was important to share with a wider audience.

The Student Religious Liberties Act of 2011 (SB2151) allows public school students to preach to other students during graduation ceremonies and facilitates religious objections to material taught in classes. I'm going to set aside the former to focus on the latter because I see it as being potentially devastating to public education.

Here's how Oliver described it in his post:
The text of the bill states that “Students may not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of their work.” If you are in a biology class and wish to answer your biology homework with your religion’s mythology, how is the teacher suppose to come up with a grade?
Imagine yourself as a high school biology teacher. How would you possibly be able to teach if you could not correct expressions of creationism in your classroom? How could you evaluate students if you were not permitted to assign lower grades to those who spouted creationist nonsense than those who demonstrated genuine understanding of the material you were teaching?

I'm not sure we are exaggerating to suggest that the passage of a law like this would effectively end science education in our public schools.

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