Anti-Science Education Legislation

In recent years, most state-level legislative attacks on the integrity of science education have taken one of two forms: “academic freedom” bills and bills to block or to repeal the adoption of state science standards.

“Academic freedom” bills would permit, but would not require, teachers to present scientifically unwarranted criticism of supposedly controversial scientific topics. Evolution and climate change are typically the explicit or implicit targets of such bills. Since 2014, at least sixty such bills have been filed in state legislatures all over the country; two have been enacted, in Louisiana in 2008 and in Tennessee in 2012.

For a listing of such bills, see our chronology of academic freedom bills. For a comprehensive analysis by Nick Matzke (a former NCSE staffer), see “The evolution of antievolution policies after Kitzmiller v. Dover.” To learn more about the misuse of the concept of “academic freedom” by these bills, see our library resource on academic freedom.

Bills to block or to repeal the adoption of state science standards—especially the Next Generation Science Standards—have been introduced for a variety of reasons; NCSE is concerned only with those bills that are motivated partly or wholly by objections to the inclusion of evolution and/or climate change in the standards. Such bills have been introduced in Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming.