Saturday, February 1, 2014

Good News on Virginia HB 207

An update from this week in the House of Delegates:

There’s good news on House Bill 207, the antiscience bill before Virginia’s legislature. 
When the House Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education met on January 30, about ten people testified against the bill.  It wasn’t enough to convince the subcommittee to kill this unnecessary bill, though. Instead, the subcommittee recommended to send it to the House Courts of Justice Committee, where it is expected to be sent to the Subcommittee on Constitutional Law.
House Education Committee and ask them to oppose this dangerous legislation:

R. Steven Landes (Chair) (804) 698-1025 (540) 255-5335
Brenda L. Pogge (Vice Chair) (804) 698-1096 (757) 223-9690
Richard P. Bell (804) 698-1020 (540) 448-3999
Robert H. Brink (804) 698-1048 (703) 531-1048
David L. Bulova (804) 698-1037 (703) 310-6752
Mark L. Cole (804) 698-1088 (540) 786-3402
Glenn R. Davis, Jr. (804) 698-1084 (757) 802-4982
Peter F. Farrell (804) 698-1056 (804) 644-0266
Thomas A. (Tag) Greason Daun Sessoms Hester (804) 698-1089 (757) 625-8989
Mark L. Keam (804) 698-1035 (703) 350-3911
James A. Leftwich, Jr. (804) 698-1078 (757) 382-4156
James M. LeMunyon (804) 698-1067 (703) 264-1432
Lingamfelter, L. Scott (804) 698-1031 (703) 580-1294
James P. (Jimmie) Massie, III(804) 698-1072 (804) 377-0100
Jennifer L. McClellan (804) 698-1071 (804) 698-1171
Joseph D. Morrissey (804) 698-1074 (804) 698-1074
Roxann L. Robinson (804) 698-1027 (804) 308-1534
Thomas Davis Rust (804) 698-1086 (703) 437-9400
Roslyn C. Tyler (804) 698-1075 (434) 336-1710
David E. Yancey (804) 698-1094 (757) 897-3953
Joseph R. Yost (804) 698-1012 (540) 922-8032
This is a promising development, since the new subcommittee is going to be alert to the potential constitutional problems that the passage of HB 207 would bring with it for school districts across Virginia.

The House Education Committee needs to approve that recommendation, though. It will consider it on Monday, February 3. So connect with members of the committee, especially if they’re your delegates thise weekend to share your perspective. 
HB 207 is modeled on dangerous antiscience laws passed in Tennessee in 2012 and Louisiana in 2008, and on similar bills rejected in almost a dozen other states over the last decade.

HB 207 is unnecessary because:
  • Virginia’s science standards are already excellent, having earned a grade of A- in the Fordham Foundation’s last study of state standards
  • helping students to be critical thinkers is already one of the fundamental goals of Virginia’s state science standards
  • neither the state department of education nor the Virginia Association of Science Teachers have endorsed the bill
  • nobody has presented any argument that this bill would provide more protection to teachers than existing law and policy already do
HB 207 is dangerous for science education because:
  • it undermines science instruction by allowing science teachers with fringe ideas to introduce their own “scientific controversies,” while barring administrators from intervening
  • it’s no reassurance that a section of the bill states that religious beliefs can’t be promoted, because creationists insist that their views are scientific, and the bill doesn’t specify otherwise
  • similarly, it also undermines science instruction by allowing science teachers with fringe ideas to undermine their presentation of the scientific material they are expected to present
  • by limiting school administrators’ power to stop teachers from teaching bad science, it opens local school districts and the state to the possibility of costly lawsuits
NSCE encourages communicating with the delegates in a concise, polite, and professional manner. Emphasize that you are their constituent, or that you are a concerned Virginian contacting them as a member of the subcommittee. If you are a teacher, a scientist, or a parent of school-age children, explain and emphasize your particular reason for concern. 
If you have not done so already, please also sign up at NCSE's website to get action alerts and news about this effort. Please also share this information with your friends, and urge them to sign up as well. Together we can stop these antiscience bills.

No comments:

Post a Comment