Literacy Professor Goes Illiterate on Academic Freedom Bill
�[T]he Oklahoma State Legislature considered a bill that would require teachers to question both biological evolution and global warming.
The bill in question is HB 1551. Unfortunately, the professor did not quote the text of the bill he tried to interpret. That is a problem.
When interpreting any text, including bills, it is important to look at the text one is attempting to interpret. In keeping with this principle, here are the key parts of HB 1551, the parts that tell teachers and administrators what they can and can't do:
[T]eachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.
[School system administrators] shall not prohibit any teacher in a school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.
As you can see, HB 1551 requires nothing of teachers. Rather, it tells administrators that administrators shall not prohibit teachers from, e.g., teaching students how to critique statements in the science texts that students may encounter during the normal course of study, if that is what a teacher deems necessary for student development.
That is, HB 1551 allows but does not require science teachers to teach science students how to do what I just did here: to find an apparent mistake in a statement -- no matter how hot the statement's topic -- and show where and how exactly the statement goes wrong.
The literacy professor -- a man who couldn't be bothered to quote a text he was trying to interpret -- wrote in a national publication to question the Common Core State Standards' focus on reading and writing in K-12 education. That's at least a little ironic.