Academic Freedom: The Oklahoma Science Education Act


Oklahoma Science Education Act

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, State Representative David Brumbaugh, two days before his death, presented before committee SB393, the Oklahoma Science Education Act. This bill promotes academic freedom by allowing students and teachers the opportunity to freely and openly discuss scientific theory.

Sixteen states have already adopted or have legislation promoting academic freedom. Academic freedom is not something we should fear, but instead embrace, as it allows the free exchange of ideas and questions thus promoting critical thinking skills which are important for our children to nurture and cultivate so that as adults they will be able to think for themselves.

After all, our goal for students is to teach them ‘how’ to think not just ‘what’ to think, right? Discussing who, what, where, how, and why of subjects allows for mental growth. To just accept something ‘as is’, without being allowed to question or discuss fosters a group think mentality allowing little room for growth. We should expect our educational institutions to promote critical thinking skills and allow objective, open discussion of scientific theory, as science is never ‘settled’.

There is no such thing as ‘settled science’. “Settled Science” is a term to normalize scientific laziness and discourage questioning and analysis of controversial issues. It is through the inquisitive nature of man and his never-ending quest for knowledge that we didn’t accept as ‘settled science’, that the earth is flat; that washing your hands before surgery isn’t necessary (it is one of the most important factors in the prevention of post-surgery infection); or the fact that it is not fat that leads to obesity, but the sugar in our diets. Settled Science today would have us believe that climate change is largely manmade, that GMO’s are safe, that vaccines don’t cause autism and that the earth will soon run out of oil, sinking humanity into an age of darkness without fossil fuels.

The Oklahoma Science Education Act, if passed, will create an environment that encourages student to explore scientific questions learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.

The Oklahoma Science Education Act, if passed, shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies. Teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

The Oklahoma Science Education Act, if passed, will not allow any educational authority to prohibit any teacher in a public school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

The Oklahoma Science Education Act, if passed, only protects the teaching of scientific information and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

The Oklahoma Science Education Act, if passed, shall provide a waiver of immunity from civil lawsuit, or termination of employment to a teacher as long as they are acting in compliance with this act.

I don’t understand why anyone would object to this bill, it doesn’t promote religion or religious doctrine; it encourages exploration and discussion of subject matter being taught. I guess the bottom line is, do we want our children to be robots? To be taught what to think instead of how to think? Are we so opposed to differing opinions that we won’t allow our children to explore opposing views and question scientific theories? Einstein said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” When did teaching objectivity and critical thinking become a no-no?

If our children are not taught how to participate in a robust exchange of ideas through debate and discussion, how on earth will we prepare them for adulthood. We do a grave injustice to our children if we allow them to be taught only to pass a test and not how to think through problems and to call into question the politically correct, so-called, ‘settled science’.

In the words of one of our most popular founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

Representative David Brumbaugh, from Broken Arrow, passed away just two days after presenting this bill. It was his life’s work. It would be a shame to disregard his legacy out of fear of allowing our children to express their own thoughts and opinions on scientific theory. Let us instead uphold Brumbaugh’s legacy and his vision for honest and open discussion of Oklahoma’s students in the subject of Science.

This blog appeared first on Just Ronda – Academic Freedom: The Oklahoma Science Education Act