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Bill would ban the teaching of scientific theories in Montana schools

A bill in the state Legislature seeking to regulate science curriculum in public schools got its first hearing Monday. The legislation’s sponsor says by banning scientific theories, the policy aims to prevent kids from being taught things that aren’t true.

More than 20 people testified against Senate Bill 235, concerned that it could keep teachers from including gravitational theory, evolution and cell theory in curriculum.

"If we remove scientific theory from science curriculums, what can be taught will be limited," Helena High School sophomore Mia Taylor told the committee. "It is the school's job to educate its students."

The bill is sponsored by freshman Republican Sen. Daniel Emrich from Great Falls. In his testimony, Emrich said the bill would make sure students are taught what a scientific fact is.

"If we operate on the assumption that a theory is fact, unfortunately, it leads us to asking questions that may be potentially based on false assumptions," Emrich said.

A legal note from legislative staff says the bill could overstep the Board of Public Education’s constitutional authority to oversee schools in the state.

The committee did not take immediate action on the bill.

Copyright 2023 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Ellis Juhlin