Antiscience legislation dies in Texas

05.08.2017

House Bill 1485, which ostensibly would have provided Texas science teachers with the academic freedom to teach "the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesseses of existing scientific theories" covered in the state science standards, died in committee on May 8, 2017, when a deadline for bills to pass committee expired.

The bill specifically identified four controversial "subjects required to be taught under the curriculum framework developed by the State Board of Education" — namely, "climate change, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, and human cloning" — although "human cloning" is not in fact included in the standards.

HB 1485 received a hearing in the House Public Education Committee on May 2, 2017. At the hearing, the bill's sponsor, Valoree Swanson (R-District 150), was reluctant to describe what teachers would be allowed to present in their classes that they are not already allowed to present in their classes, if her bill were to pass.

But not all of the supporters of HB 1485 were so reticent. Tom Maynard, a member of the Texas state board of education testifying on his own behalf, referred approvingly to the bill's allowing the presentation of creationism, and a middle school science teacher testifying on his own behalf offered a number of climate change denial talking points.

Those testifying against the bill or registered to do so included representatives of the League of Women Voters of Texas, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Texas American Federation of Teachers, the Texas Freedom Network, the Texas PTA, and the Texas State Teachers Association.