A Missouri Bill Would Allow Opt Out From Evolution


A pair of Republican legislators in Missouri, Rick Brattin (R-District 55) and Andy Koenig (R-District 99), have submitted a bill, HB 1472, that would allow parents to remove their kids from any class that teaches about evolution in public schools in that state. The text of the bill:

1. Any school district or charter school which provides instruction relating to the theory of evolution by natural selection shall be required to have a policy on parental notification and a mechanism where a parent can choose to remove the student from any part of the district’s or school’s instruction on evolution. The policy shall require the school district or charter school to notify the parent or legal guardian of each student enrolled in the district of:

(1) The basic content of the district’s or school’s evolution instruction to be provided to the student; and
(2) The parent’s right to remove the student from any part of the district’s or school’s evolution instruction.

2. A school district or charter school shall make all curriculum materials used in the district’s or school’s evolution instruction available for public inspection under chapter 610 prior to the use of such materials in actual instruction.

Why only evolution? There is virtually not a single subject taught in public schools that isn’t objectionable to some set of parents, almost always on religious grounds. Can a geocentrist parent opt their child out of any class that teaches that the earth revolves around the sun? What about a flat earther? Or a holocaust denier? Why do they single out this one set of parents who object to the teaching of this one particular subject and say they alone have the right to pull their kids out? Because the sponsors of the bill agree with them, of course. Screw anyone they don’t agree with. I think that’s called “special rights,” isn’t it?

Comments

  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Why only evolution?

    Shhh … They’re probably already working on a follow up law to allow opting out from teaching climate science, the Big Bang theory and who knows what else they don’t like!

  2. raven says

    This says a huge amount about how confident they are in the truth of their fundie cult religion.

    None at all. They are afraid that if kids learn about science, they won’t be creationists any more. Which does happen once in a while.

  3. busterggi says

    First they cam for the flat-earthers
    Then they came for those who said railroad trains could travel at more than 30 mph without asphyxiating passengers
    Next they came for those who said man would never fly
    Now they are coming for people who trust the science for evolution

    They always lose eventually but its a hell of a fight first.

  4. D. C. Sessions says

    No problem, your kids can sit out the classes that discuss evolution in the usual detention/study hall with the others. Of course, that may make getting a passing grade in the class more difficult.

  5. raven says

    This law is clearly illegal, giving preferences to fundie death cult xians and no one else.

    1. OTOH, it might almost be worth it. The kids stay ignorant, but the teachers can teach biology and physics as much as they want to without getting harassed, fired, or death threats. All of which happen often in fundie death cult areas.

    2. (1) The basic content of the district’s or school’s evolution instruction to be provided to the student;

    I like this. Pull the fundie kids out of class, Give them the biology curriculum. And mention that it is going to be on tests for the rest of their school career. Which it is, SAT;s achievement tests and so on.

    3. They seem to have forgotten about astronomy. The round earth, Big Bang, Heliocentrism, solar fusion. And embryology and the Germ Theory of Disease, another of their hates. There must be more. Fundie hates are an ever expanding cloud.

  6. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    Why do they single out this one set of parents who object to the teaching of this one particular subject and say they alone have the right to pull their kids out? Because the sponsors of the bill agree with them, of course. Screw anyone they don’t agree with. I think that’s called “special rights,” isn’t it?

    Well I call not educating children and instead indoctrinating them into conservative Christianity child abuse, a particularly virulent, insidious form that results in negative consequences of millions of U.S. children. And shame on liberals for not calling this abuse.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    I am interested in the question D.C. Sessions allueds to. If your child gets to opt out, does that mean they still get a passing grade? Will it damage their ability to graduate?

  8. ThreeCat Acres says

    The law clearly states that they can opt out of instruction about evolution by natural selection. They can still be taught evolution by genetic drift or other processes. The law does not state that the students can’t be tested on evolution by natural selection, only that they can opt out of instruction.

  9. Michael Heath says

    raven writes:

    This law is clearly illegal, giving preferences to fundie death cult xians and no one else.
    1. OTOH, it might almost be worth it. The kids stay ignorant, but the teachers can teach biology and physics as much as they want to without getting harassed, fired, or death threats. All of which happen often in fundie death cult areas.

    Such localities already predominately fail to adequately teach science to all students. An opt-out is not going to strengthen the curriculum, I think it’ll most likely dilute it even further so students won’t have an opt-out choice, it’ll be a moot point since evolution won’t be taught to anyone. That appears to be the motivation by these legislators here.

    This was my public school experience; no evolution was taught in any science class.

  10. says

    Actually this is the second bill that would have opted out some Missourians from evolution. The first bill was their gun bill that would have allowed private ownership of machine guns.

  11. psweet says

    A school district or charter school shall make all curriculum materials used in the district’s or school’s evolution instruction available for public inspection under chapter 610 prior to the use of such materials in actual instruction.

    I don’t know if it’s really necessary, but if it is, I do like this part of the law.

  12. Michael Heath says

    raven writes:

    I like this. Pull the fundie kids out of class, Give them the biology curriculum. And mention that it is going to be on tests for the rest of their school career. Which it is, SAT;s achievement tests and so on.

    Fundie parents predominately compel their children to avoid secular universities and if they do encourage them to go to college, it’s one of their denomination’s. Conservative Christianity is anti-intellectual, so few of these children would understand the ramifications of what you point-out given the way they’re raised. They’re predominately taught that those who teach such subjects are at best brainwashed, if not evil.

    In addition we have a moral obligation to defend the rights of all individuals, not just those within one’s self-identified tribe. It’s pretty disgusting to see someone promote denying rights to one group of victims here as you do.

  13. dhall says

    Wonder if those who think like that would seriously opt out of evolution and eventually go extinct . . .

  14. Pierce R. Butler says

    The basic content of the district’s or school’s evolution instruction to be provided to the student…

    They do that already: we call it “teaching the class.”

    If the kid opts out, that would violate the requirement just stated.

  15. Wylann says

    Shit like this is why I think all legislation should automatically be reviewed by a court for constitutionality.

  16. Chiroptera says

    If this means that a kid can expect to get a passing grade for a biology class without learning about or being tested on the theory of evolution, or if this means a kid can still get a diploma without meeting the otherwise mandated science requirements, then all the schools in Missouri should face the risk of losing accreditation.

    Accreditation is supposed to be a guarantee to prospective employers, professional programs, and others that the individual has met some sort of minimal educational standards. And surely accreditation should be more than whether the school got the proper paperwork filled out correctly and on time!

  17. Melvosh says

    Michael Heath @14 writes:

    In addition we have a moral obligation to defend the rights of all individuals, not just those within one’s self-identified tribe. It’s pretty disgusting to see someone promote denying rights to one group of victims here as you do.

    I don’t see anyone in this thread advocating denying rights to anyone. If certain parents want to prevent their kids from learning basic educational material, that’s their choice. If that material is still on standardized tests, and their kids are ill-equipped to pass those tests, that’s on the parents. No one’s rights are being denied, except the kids’ rights by their very own parents.

  18. anubisprime says

    The real problem is how to brain dead retards like Brattin and Koenig get elected in the first place?

    While dicking around with bronze age mythology the real problems that actually affect their constituents in the here and now are presumably way back on the burner, while they play at being fatuous jebus sunbeams!

  19. Michael Heath says

    raven @ 6:

    raven writes:I like this. Pull the fundie kids out of class, Give them the biology curriculum. And mention that it is going to be on tests for the rest of their school career. Which it is, SAT;s achievement tests and so on.

    Me at 14:

    . . . we have a moral obligation to defend the rights of all individuals, not just those within one’s self-identified tribe. It’s pretty disgusting to see someone promote denying rights to one group of victims here as you do.

    Melvosh to me @ 20:

    I don’t see anyone in this thread advocating denying rights to anyone.

    Anyone? @ 14 I blockquoted what Raven wrote and named him. What more do you want? I spoon-fed you the claim. Raven’s clearly advocating the state infringe upon some fundie kids’ equal right to an education – in a public school.

    Melvosh @ 20:

    If certain parents want to prevent their kids from learning basic educational material, that’s their choice. If that material is still on standardized tests, and their kids are ill-equipped to pass those tests, that’s on the parents. No one’s rights are being denied, except the kids’ rights by their very own parents.[Bolded by Heath]

    So your own response destroys your false assertion that you, “don’t see anyone in this thread advocating denying rights to anyone.” Sheesh.

    Don’t you think students’ rights matter at all? In spite of your acknowledging they exist where state legislators promote infringing on those rights.

    And no, it’s not merely a parents choice. Most states have standards to protect children’s rights to an education, even over homeschooled children. These state standards aren’t nearly as strong as they should be, but they exist in all states.

    From a competing rights perspective I argue it’s clear whose rights deserve protection here: a student’s right to an education is worthy of protection, a parent’s right to deny their children an education – not worthy of protection.

  20. Sastra says

    I think one of the issues in this case involves the underlying belief that parents almost literally own their children and therefore have the “right” to bring them up any way they want. This assumption goes nuclear when it involves religion. It may even be derived from religion, at least in part.

    Michael Heath #14 wrote:

    . . we have a moral obligation to defend the rights of all individuals, not just those within one’s self-identified tribe.

    Agree. Won’t someone think of the children? ;)

  21. mck9 says

    rickk:

    Why Missouri keeps him in office is unfathomable.

    For the same reasons that the same region of suburban St Louis repeatedly sent Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin to Washington.

    Alas, one of the sponsors, the illustrious Andrew Koenig, is my representative at the state level, as was Todd Akin at the federal level. I sent Koenig an email last night (and posted it on Dana Hunter’s blog), not that it’s likely to accomplish anything. I haven’t gotten a response yet, nor do I expect to, except possibly for a form letter thanking me for my support and asking for donations.

  22. Melvosh says

    Michael, in my opinion, advocating that the bill be allowed to pass is not the same as advocating that students’ rights be denied. The bill doesn’t force anyone into missing out on education, it simply allows parents to make a choice. If the duly elected representatives in that state feel that this choice should be an option, that’s within their ability and power to make it happen. If the students end up failing tests and schools end up losing funding because of a choice made by the lawmakers and parents, it’s definitely a problem. But it’s a problem that those lawmakers and parents are walking into with their eyes wide open.

  23. Sastra says

    Melvosh #27 wrote:

    The bill doesn’t force anyone into missing out on education, it simply allows parents to make a choice.

    The bill allows parents to make a choice to force their children to miss out on education. The parents don’t necessarily have that “choice.” Nor do they have the “choice” to determine the nature of reality. Evolution happened. They have to deal.

  24. MarcusC says

    Algebra is a pain. Any chance I could have my kids opt out of that. Come to think of it, I never exactly bonded with chemistry once I got to university. Can we skip that too?

  25. Melvosh says

    Parents are allowed to make all sorts of horrible decisions for their kids, from dressing them funny to indoctrination into monstrous religious cults. They dictate diet, health care, activities, and political / religious views. A lot of these choices that parents make can be harmful to kids (lack of vaccinations, constant fast food diet, little to no physical activity, bigotry, misogyny, etc.), but the state would never dream of denying parents the ability to make most of those choices.

    Do I think this particular choice would be a good choice for any parent to make? Absolutely not. Do I hope saner heads in the legislature prevail, and stop this asinine bill? I absolutely hope that. But I think a real world impact may be the only way some of these parents are going to be convinced that this is ridiculous.

  26. Chiroptera says

    Sastra, #25: I think one of the issues in this case involves the underlying belief that parents almost literally own their children and therefore have the “right” to bring them up any way they want.

    Yeah, when people try to make an argument that parents should be able to make any and all decisions concerning their children, I try to point out: Children are not property. They aren’t even pets.

  27. raven says

    The bill allows parents to make a choice to force their children to miss out on education. The parents don’t necessarily have that “choice.”

    Actually they do. And frequently exercise that option.

    They can homeschool their kids. Or send them to a private fundie xian school that teaches them nothing much.

    Nor do they have the “choice” to determine the nature of reality. Evolution happened. They have to deal.

    Of course they can’t determine reality. But they can ignore it and frequently do so. It’s the whole basis of their cults.

    I wasn’t entirely serious about letting the kids opt out. But it is worth thinking about. As it stands right now, most schools in this area simply don’t teach evolution and many teach straight creationism. It would take some pressure off the schools and teachers since this is due solely to cult xian religious pressures. It’s half a loaf instead of none. And it does make those parents who opt out look afraid and kooky, or should anyway.

  28. raven says

    The bill allows parents to make a choice to force their children to miss out on education. The parents don’t necessarily have that “choice.”

    Actually they do. And frequently exercise that option.

    They can homeschool their kids. Or send them to a private fundie xian school that teaches them nothing much.

    I’ve seen this too many times.

    The parents set their kids up to fail. Then the kids fail.

    Two parents of my knowledge, both New Agers, homeschooled their kids. Which meant in practice, home but no schooling. Both kids ended up close to illiterate and struggled as young adults. One is now dead of a heroin overdose.

  29. Michael Heath says

    Melvosh writes @ 27:

    . . .advocating that the bill be allowed to pass is not the same as advocating that students’ rights be denied. The bill doesn’t force anyone into missing out on education, it simply allows parents to make a choice.

    So if parents make the choice to hold their kids out of classes when evolution is taught, is a child’s right to learn about evolution infringed upon? I say that’s self-evidently yes, all to protect the far inferior right for a parent to deprive their children of an adequate science education.

    From my perspective you’ve dug the hole you started @ 20 even deeper. @ 20 you first falsely deny that no one’s rights are threatened, then in the same comment post you correctly concede some students rights are threatened. Now @ 27 you claim advocates’ support of a bill that denies students the right to learn evolution at a public school (read government school) doesn’t necessarily mean those advocates support denying those students the exercise of their rights. In spite of the fact that’s a central motivation of the bill, i.e., to protect parents’ rights to deny their children an adequate science education.

    That’s some dizzying and self-refuting logic you’re using there.

  30. Steve Morrison says

    John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty dealt well enough with the fallacy of calling it a “right” of parents to fail to educate their children properly. The passage I mean is paragraph 12, beginning with “I have already observed that, owing to the absence”.

  31. had3 says

    I wonder if the bill required the opting out parent and child to sign an agreement acknowledging that the child can no longer pursue a medical career or biological science career how many would still opt out. Sometimes consequences have to be spelled out for the cause and effect of actions are recognized.

  32. freehand says

    Michael, Sastra, Chiroptera – one of the problems I have is that if it becomes too easy to pull a child because “the parents are raising him right” or however the hoi polloi describe it, then are we the ones who necessarily make those decisions?

    On the other hand, I do agree that teaching kids this superstitious nonsense is child abuse. Also, do we want more and more ignorant people voting? If kids think that scientists come up with theories by idle speculation at best, or design them to defy God at worst, then how will they make decisions based on arguments about global warming, vaccinations, psychiatric therapies, etc?

    On the gripping hand, if it looks like we are losing this battle, I support triage, and am willing to sacrifice some children in order to preserve a core of somewhat educated kids. If we are going to lose Billy Baptist I don’t want to lose Suzy Secular also just because we can’t face the prospect of innocent kids crippled by ignorance and magical thinking. Decisions in medical triage based on an unwillingness to face suffering and loss can lead to unnecessary deaths. I do not think we are at the stage yet. But sadly, I can easily imagine being there.

  33. magistramarla says

    Here in Texas, parents are given the choice to opt their kids out of sex education and the health teacher is not allowed to penalize the students in any way. In fact, the teacher is required to give the students an alternate assignment and send them to the library to do it, thus giving the teacher more work.
    When my daughter and her husband read the sex ed curriculum they were appalled at how watered-down it was, so they supplemented it each evening when my grandson got home with some real facts.
    I helped him to do his high school health class online this summer, and I supplemented the sex ed chapter.

    As for evolution, the schools pay lip service to teaching it by including it on the TEKS, but many science teachers aren’t thoroughly teaching it. My grandson had a jr. high science teacher who told the class to read the chapter and answer the questions, but that “none of that stuff has been proven to be true”. My grandson refuted what he told them with the facts that he had learned at home.
    When I was teaching, I watched as a friend who taught biology was harassed by parents and the administration because he taught evolution quite thoroughly. Eventually his contract wasn’t renewed and he moved back to a “blue” state.

    It wasn’t this way when we first moved here in ’93. Our oldest daughter took some excellent AP science classes in high school, was the valedictorian in ’95 and scored a full scholarship to Cal Tech. At that time, our part of Texas regularly sent students to Cal Tech. She’s now a neurobiologist working for the NSF and serves on Cal Tech’s alumni board. She is often asked what happened down in Texas. They rarely admit students from our area now. It’s easy to see why.

  34. chilidog99 says

    The problem with this proposed law is that whole it is basically unconstitutional, I don’t see any potential standing for it to be challenged in court should it pass.

  35. Crudely Wrott says

    So, Rick and Andy. What are you afraid of? And why are you afraid at all? Does your god not suffice? Does it not protect you and answer your faithful prayers? Do you feel somewhat derelict, perhaps disenfranchised? Is that why you are so pissed off?

    Perhaps you should pray some more. I hear it works for some, sometimes.

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