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Oklahoma House panel votes down science bill

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: February 23, 2011
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A House committee rejected a measure Tuesday that critics said would allow creationism and intelligent design into public school classrooms.

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

“We want to make sure all science is taught,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City.

Rep. Fred Jordan, a member of the House of Representatives Common Education Committee, said he was concerned the measure was too confusing.

“This bill is running circles around itself, and it's going to make it harder and harder for teachers to know what to do in the classroom,” said Jordan, R-Jenks.

“We're opening the door for teachers to kind of say whatever they want to say, whether it's religious issues, creation, evolution,” he said. “I really feel like we're opening the door to where any and everything can come in.”

The Education Committee failed to pass HB 1551 out of committee. The measure failed, 7-9, but it is not a final action. Kern could ask the committee to bring it up again this session or next year.

Kern said several times the measure 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.

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