Science; Board of Education,,to encourage students to explore scientific questions. (HB207)

Introduced By

Del. Dickie Bell (R-Staunton)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Instruction in science. Requires the Board of Education, local school boards, division superintendents, and school board employees to (i) create an environment in public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific controversies in science classes; (ii) assist teachers to find effective ways to present scientific controversies in science classes; and (iii) allow teachers to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in science classes. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


12/27/2013Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/14 14101926D
12/27/2013Referred to Committee on Education
01/10/2014Assigned Education sub: Elementary and Secondary Education
01/30/2014Subcommittee recommends reporting (4-Y 3-N)
01/30/2014Subcommittee recommends referring to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/03/2014Reported from Education (14-Y 8-N) (see vote tally)
02/03/2014Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/03/2014Referred from Courts of Justice
02/03/2014Referred to Committee on Education
02/07/2014Impact statement from DPB (HB207)
02/12/2014Left in Courts of Justice
02/12/2014Left in Committee on Education
02/12/2014Left in Education
03/04/2014Left in Education


Waldo Jaquith writes:

Oh, good Lord.

This is clearly a bill to make schools "teach the controversy" over evolution and/or climate change. In fact, there is zero controversy within either of those topics within the scientific community, although I suspect that Del. Bell is not aware of that.

I'll support this bill if Del. Bill agrees that it facilitates "teaching the controversy" about both climate change and comprehensive sexual education in schools.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

For those who want to learn more, see the Wikipedia entry about the Discovery Institute's "Teach the Controversy" campaign to have creationism taught in schools. The Christian organization established this strategy back in 2002, as a method of getting religion into science classes. It's presented as an academic freedom effort, but that's a sham, because there is no scientific controversy over evolution. But it was dealt a death blow in 2005, with the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District ruling, in which the judge wrote that Dover's "teach the controversy" policy was "at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard."

Dover, Delaware was ordered by the court to pay over $1,000,000 after they "taught the controversy," for their naked attempt to insert religion into public schools. How much will the whole of Virginia have to pay, if this bill becomes law?

Bob Lindsey writes:

HB-207 should be passed only with an amendment that requires approval by the National Academy Sciences of the relevant curricula.

Tom writes:

This bill should be toast in the hot blaze of fire and brimstone. But then again, we're talking about the VA House of Delegates. A delegate introducing a bill like this is more evidence that there are indeed fools on the hill. Unnecessary and likely unconstitutional.

robert legge writes:

The Board of Education does not wish to become involved in something as vague as "create an environment...". Someday in a perfect world, Delegates like Mr. Bell will be forthright about what they are trying to do with bills they sponsor.

Bernard Truffer writes:

I would suggest the bill be amended to require that science educators teach science, and not be required to promote what is clearly a religious agenda.

ACLU-VA Religious Liberty, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia opposes this legislation because its effect will be to invite government officials (i.e., teachers) to inject their personal religious beliefs into science classrooms without fear of discipline. This could result in children being denigrated in the name of science for what their parents teach them about their religion. Religious instruction should and must remain a family matter not injected into science classrooms.