PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – A bill that would let South Dakota teachers decide how much skepticism to inject into lessons on scientific topics such as climate change and the Big Bang has passed its first legislative test.

The House Education Committee voted 8-6 Wednesday to endorse the bill. Republican Sen. Phil Jensen, the bill’s Senate sponsor, says the measure provides protections to teachers who want to help students learn to think critically. The bill says teachers can’t be stopped from helping students understand, analyze or critique “in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses” of scientific information presented in classes.

Representatives of school boards, administrators and teachers opposed the bill. Department of Education official Brett Arenz says South Dakota teachers have the knowledge, expertise and academic freedom they need to teach science and promote critical thinking.

Mirror legislation failed in 2017.

AP-WF-02-21-19

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