A bill being considered in the Missouri General Assembly could have disastrous effects on science education in the state, according to some science education advocates.
House Bill 1472, which was introduced in late January and had its first public hearing last week, would require school districts to inform parents when evolution is being taught so parents could opt their children out of those lessons. The proposed legislation would also require schools to provide parents with the “basic content” of planned evolution instruction.
Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) introduced the bill after proposing several anti-evolution bills in years past. He told Missouri outlet KCTV that his new bill would not impact other parts of biology coursework besides evolution instruction.
"What my bill would do is it would allow parents to opt out of natural selection teaching," Brattin told KCTV. "It would not prohibit the child from going through biology from learning about cell structure, DNA and the building blocks of life."
Additionally, he told The Kansas City Star that he opposes required teaching about evolution because it could violate students’ religious beliefs.
Numerous science groups have come out against the bill. Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, said in a press release, "House Bill 1472 would eviscerate the teaching of biology in Missouri.”
“The value of a high school education in Missouri would be degraded," Branch cautioned later in the release.
Similarly, David Evans, the executive director for the National Science Teachers Association, told The Kansas City Star that the teaching of natural selection is a crucial part of biology education.
“Evolution by natural selection is the unifying principle in the study of biology,” he told the outlet. “Would you want to pull your child out of class if you didn’t like grammar?”
Still, not everybody disagrees with the bill. Numerous parents told KCTV that they would like the option of opting their children out of lessons about evolution.
"Evolution is not taught in the Bible so it shouldn't be taught in the class," parent Brandon Eastwood told the station. "Even if I had to spend some time in jail I wouldn't subject my kids to that nonsense."
KCTV reports that schools in Missouri are not required to teach evolution, and that the decision to include it is up to local school districts.
In January, Brattin introduced a different bill that would prevent teachers from getting punished for discussing “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological [sic] and hypotheses of chemical evolution.”