Senate Bill 114, which claimed to encourage and protect the teaching of certain scientific information, did not survive its committee hearing, as Senate Education members voted 4-2 to defer it to the 41st legislative day.
Sen. Jeff Monroe, the bill’s main sponsor, called SB 114 a “constituent bill,” which disallowed the state Board of Education, local school board and administrators from prohibiting teachers “from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”
In testimony, proponents of the bill routinely cited the freedom it provided teachers to discuss the scientific merits of creationism, intelligent design and theories related to global warming.
“Let’s unshackle our teachers,” Terri Jorgenson of Concerned Women for America said.
ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany did not share the sentiment that public school teachers in South Dakota were being held back in what they could teach in their classrooms.
“There is no evidence in front of you this morning…that suggests our teachers are oppressed,” Pogany testified. ASBSD was joined in opposition of the bill by South Dakota Department of Education and South Dakota Education Association.
Pogany said the bill was legislation looking for problem and the problem was it bypassed the school board and community in deciding what was taught in the school.
“This language…completely circumvents school boards and the will of the community,” Pogany said, adding that school curriculum “reflects the views of the community.”
Sen. Bruce Rampelberg cited SB 114 would be in direct conflict with House Bill 1101, which ensures local control over curriculum and methods of instruction.
HB 1101 passed the House last week and will be reviewed in the Senate soon. Sen. Rampelberg noted HB 1101 would secure curriculum decision making be in the hands of the “local people.”
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