Lawmakers discuss bill to teach evolution in schools

Feb 21, 2013

A Missouri State Representative thinks evolution needs to be more clearly taught in schools.

Representative Andrew Koenig’s House Bill 179 was discussed at a public hearing Wednesday morning by the Committee for Elementary and Secondary Education.

Koenig’s bill would allow teachers to teach the strengths and weaknesses of evolution freely. He said this approach will encourage students to explore science.

“If we tell students that everything has been discovered, I think kids are going to be less interested in science,” Koenig said. “So I think by bringing up some of the controversies, and get kids talking about it, I think it’ll help critical thinking skills.”

He said he wants to bring clarity to teachers who are not sure of what they are able to teach on the subject. The bill would prohibit religion being involved in curriculum, only allowing scientific information.

Carrie Launius wants parents to know more details about the religious aspect. Launius, the vice-president of the Science Teachers of Missouri, said parents should be able to pull kids out of evolution lessons if religious beliefs are violated.

“It prohibits us talking about religion, but if families have religious beliefs that choose to not have their students participate in learning that, they have that right,” said Launius.

She said there is a difference between scientific theories and theories in other fields. Launius said theories in science are almost certain, and teachers need to be careful about how they approach that with students.

Tennessee and Louisiana have already passed statutes similar to this bill. If passed, the Department of Education would notify all superintendents of the bill’s provisions by the start of the 2014-2015 school year.