Montana students, teachers blast bill that would limit science education to

Rob Jensen, a former Hellgate High School teacher who won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science in 2019, said he was not exaggerating when he called the bill “the most extreme anti-science legislation I’ve ever seen in this country.”

He said it made a 1925 case in Tennessee involving a science teacher teaching evolution who was put on trial “look like a period of Enlightenment.”

Why can’t they just say “the Scopes trial”? Do they assume Montanans are historically illiterate?

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I think they assume that most Americans are historically illiterate.

(Many probably assume that the Scopes Trial was a consumer survey on preferred mouthwash flavors.)


I think, for the reasons given in the other thread on this, that if this bill passes it’s liable to do nothing at all. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, certainly, but it may do very little on-the-ground harm because it’s so badly worded and nearly unenforceable. The pseudo-“academic freedom” bills which the DI loves to advance are far more harmful, because they provide litigation/employment termination cover for rogue teachers who violate the constitution.

Well, perhaps there have been bills about academic standards for history education, too…

I do wonder: it’s now been nearly a hundred years. Do most people know what “The Scopes Trial” was? I certainly heard plenty about it when I was a kid but I have no idea how likely younger people are to hear about it these days. It wasn’t quite so distant an event back then…



Definite downward trend in the last 17 years – also an interesting annual fluctuation.

Interesting. I do wonder what accounts for the seasonality. It would be a better world if Mencken’s columns on the trial were required reading in every school – maybe I should draft some alternative legislation for Montana…

Somehow I thought it was 1926. (The Butler Act was passed in 1925).

I think that bills like this, even if unenforceable, encourage some to make the lives of teachers that much more uncomfortable.

I’m told that the chances this even gets to committee (leave alone a vote, or a law!) is virtually zero.

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Yes, I would be surprised if it came to a real vote. I looked at the other bills this new senator has introduced and they all feel like things he said while campaigning and he spent 15 minutes drafting up several bills to fulfill his promise to his constituents. None of them will likely get to the floor. He knows they won’t pass but he will be able to raise funds off their rejection and be able to say he did what he promised. BTW, his FB feed is full of antivax, culture war, and stolen election claims not that this ill be a surprise to anyone.

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This will (probably) fail. But the teaching of evolution and the inclusion of ID in teaching of science will almost certainly get bounced back to the states, as abortion has been. That’s the flavor du jour of the Supreme Court majority. Once this happens, look immediately for bills pressuring school districts to accommodate ID and creationist arguments. At which point boasting about how “we won Dover, so it’s all over” will ring hollow.

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Unfortunately, yes, that’s not unlikely. I recall a few years back you said something about Roberts being a danger on this, and I responded to the effect that I wasn’t so sure Roberts would be a problem – but we’ve added loons and there’s a five-seat crazytown majority without him, so even if I’m right about Roberts, we are in danger.

The hazard here encompasses the whole church/state field. The Lemon test may go away, and with that, we may see enormous deference to state legislative declarations of purpose. Scalia hinted at this in the Edwards v. Aguillard case, indicating that perhaps at least the District Court should have allowed the state to build a record to defend the purposes of the statute. In some contexts the Court has been known to defer very heavily to state legislative declarations of purpose, so a simple “whereas” clause indicating that the purpose of the act is to improve science education might be enough. I would not be surprised if we see another variant of the old “equal treatment” formula come up, and with this level of crazy up there, I wouldn’t be that surprised to see it succeed. The Bremerton case was absolutely shocking.


Athough, if this article is to be believed, there may be some faint hope that its importance as a precedent will be limitted:

The Supreme Court’s “praying coach” decision rests on a bed of lies - Vox



The bill has been tabled, which I think means goodby.

Committee tables Montana bill aiming to limit science education to ‘scientific fact’

A Senate committee, including the sponsor himself, voted Monday to table a bill that drew heavy opposition last week from teachers, students and others in the STEM community that would have limited science instruction to “scientific fact.”

I liked this comment by one of the students testifying before the committee:

Youth make powerful point at the Montana Legislature

“Science is a methodology, not an ideology,” a Capital High senior explained. “Science is not an accumulation of indisputable facts; rather, it is a set of best explanations.”


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