OKLAHOMA – A new law to let Oklahoma science teachers freely share their opinions on theories such as climate change or evolution is grabbing attention, but not from who you might expect.
The proposed law has been floating around the state capitol for years, but this year it is gathering steam.
A high school student is speaking out and is concerned Oklahoma students will not be prepared for national testing if common science theories are omitted or watered down.
“This past week I was a page for my local representative,” student Ken Nguyen said.
Nguyen is an Oklahoma City public school junior who is now advocating for all Oklahoma students and is upset about “The Oklahoma Science Education Act.”
“I felt like I just couldn’t sit back and watch nothing happen,” he said.
Senate Bill 393 was authored by Senator Josh Brecheen.
NewsChannel 4 wanted him to explain the bill, but his office told us he could not talk until next week at the earliest.
This is not the first time he has introduced something like this.
At least five other senate bills had similar language, but none made it as far as SB 393.
It got a 13-1 green light vote out of committee.
“In my opinion, it’s a blank check for teachers to teach whatever they believe is relevant,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen says the language is vague but believes the law will allow teachers the freedom to only present creationism instead of evolution, or they can teach climate change is a hoax.
He wonders how students can pass advanced placement or other tests if they miss key science subjects.
“Any student in a course that offers a standardized test that accepts evolution, global warming, these controversial theories he’s brought up, tests the students on these materials somewhat in depth and if a teacher decides to belittle that theory or disregard teaching it, that student suffers on that test,” he said. “AP test, and IB test, SAT subject test, anything like that and it could hinder their lives in the future with getting into higher level education.”
Nguyen plans to join other students to protest Senate Bill 393 when it is brought up on the Senate floor.
Several science organizations have released statements in opposition of SB 393.
“The scientific content of science courses should be determined by scientists and science teachers and not by political directives. In particular, science teachers should not be required to teach, as science, ideas, models, and theories that are clearly extra-scientific. An extra-scientific hypothesis, as such, might legitimately be discussed in a science class when examination of its logical construction and criteria for acceptance would illuminate the corresponding features of scientific hypothesis and scientific method. Any requirement for equal time for such hypotheses is not justifiable.” -Oklahoma Academy of Science
You can also view the Oklahoma Excellence for Science Education’s position here.