Update from South Dakota

01.24.2017

South Dakota's Senate Bill 55 passed the Senate Education Committee on a 4-3 vote on January 24, 2017, despite the opposition of the state's educational communities, according to the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader (January 24, 2017).

If enacted, SB 55 would provide, "No teacher may be prohibited from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48 [the section of the state code that governs the state education standards revision cycle]."

Jeff Monroe (R-District 24), a sponsor of SB 55, told the Argus-Leader that he was told by teachers that they were uncomfortable teaching (unspecified) alternatives to climate change or unable to teach about the development of embryos. In 2014, Monroe introduced a similar bill, SB 112, which would have prevented school boards and administrators from prohibiting teachers from teaching "intelligent design" in their classes.

Troy Heinert (D-District 26), a member of the Senate Education Committee who voted against the bill, noted that local school boards would lose any ability to oversee maverick teachers when it comes to teaching science, telling the newspaper, "What this is saying is you can bypass what your local school board is saying ... A vote for this is a vote against your local school board."

Confirming Heinert's diagnosis was the fact that Wade Pogany, the executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, was among those testifying against the bill, according to KELO AM (January 24, 2017).