Oklahoma House panel approves Kern's bill on scientific instruction

Oklahoma House committee passes a measure that is intended to allow public school teachers the freedom to teach various science theories.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: February 22, 2012
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A measure that critics said would allow creationism and intelligent design into public school classrooms won the approval Tuesday of a House committee, which a year ago voted down the proposal.

Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, the author of House Bill 1551, has said her measure would allow teachers the freedom to teach without fear of losing their jobs and to teach various scientific theories.

The House of Representatives Common Education Committee, which a year ago voted 9-7 to not pass the measure, flipped its vote Tuesday and voted 9-7 to pass it. It now goes to the full House.

Kern has said HB 1551 was not intended to bring religious beliefs, such as creationism, into the classroom. The bill states it was to protect the teaching of scientific information and shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine.

Victor Hutchison, Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education president and professor emeritus of the University of Oklahoma's zoology department, said the bill's language comes from the creationist Discovery Institute in Seattle.