CBLDF has joined a letter from the National Coalition Against Censorship opposed to an Oklahoma bill that would allow teachers to impose personal beliefs on “scientific controversies” rather than adhering to scientific consensus.
CBLDF joins coalition efforts like these to protect the freedom to read comics. Censorship manifests in many ways, and the unique visual nature of comics makes them more prone to censorship than other types of books. Taking an active stand against all instances of censorship curbs precedent that could adversely affect the rights upon which comics readers depend.
SB. 393, the “Oklahoma Science Education Act,” would allow teachers to depart from scientific consensus on topics such as climate change and evolution. Proponents argue that the bill advances intellectual freedom and the First Amendment rights of teachers, but such bills are often a direct attack on science education. If passed, the bill would allow teachers to offer alternative theories to climate change, evolution, and other topics without requiring that the ideas have scientific evidence in support of them.
As NCAC writes, “The First Amendment does not require the presentation of all views about every scientific subject, because not all theories are equally valid or supported by evidence.” As NCAC also points out, scientific instruction should be limited to facts, not beliefs:
For example, Flat Earth Theory is not taught alongside evidence that the earth is spherical, although some individuals continue to believe that the earth is flat. Those individuals are entitled to their belief, but they are not entitled to have it taught in the public schools. In most schools, a science teacher would be disciplined for teaching that the earth is flat, and the First Amendment would offer no protection. Similarly, teachers are entitled to believe in creationism, but not to teach it as scientific fact in the public schools.
The imposition of personal views on education, whether it’s science or not, represents a dilution of education standards. Several states have seen similar legislation proposed. CBLDF recently joined NCAC in protesting a South Dakota bill that sought to make the same allowances for personal beliefs in instruction. That bill was effectively defeated when the committee reviewing it tabled it until a date after the end of the legislative session. Florida is also considering bills that would allow any tax payer — not just parents in a given district — to challenge instructional materials.
Read the letter to the Oklahoma State Senate below.