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New Ohio Law Allows Students To Get Science Facts Wrong If It Fits Their Religious Beliefs

New Ohio Law Allows Students To Get Science Facts Wrong If It Fits Their Religious Beliefs

According to the bill, public schools have no choice but to let their students have complete freedom to express their religious faith while completing homework, artwork and other assignments.

The Republican-controlled House in Ohio has recently passed a bill that could prevent public schools from saying the answers are wrong even if they are scientifically incorrect, reports HuffPost.

The Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019, which was passed by the state House 61-31 on Wednesday, protects public school students’ right to express their faith on school grounds.

Nevertheless, there is one controversial aspect of the proposed legislation that's receiving flak for stating that schools can’t “penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.”



 

 

According to the bill, public schools have no choice but to let their students have complete freedom to express their religious faith while completing homework, artwork and other assignments.

It also says that grades for these assignments by students will be calculated “using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns.”

Experts say that the grading standards for these assignments remain open to interpretation. This, in turn, has set off a debate among Ohio lawmakers and advocacy groups. 



 

 

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes says that this bill will allow students to pass off Bible stories and figures from religions as real historical events and figures.

The bill states that educators must not penalize “religious responses that fly in the face of science and accepted facts,” Sykes said. “As the bill is currently written, it requires teachers to accept answers that could be scientifically inaccurate so long as religious doctrine says they are true,” Sykes told HuffPost in a statement.

“A K-12 public school education is intended to open minds and allow free thought, however, we are wading in dangerous territory if we refuse to accept facts and science in educational settings.”



 

 

Gary Daniels, the chief lobbyist of The American Civil Liberties Union, said that his organization was in full favor of protecting public school students’ religious liberty.

However, he also believes that this bill was quite unnecessary because these rights are already protected by the First Amendment and Ohio’s constitution. Daniels also spoke about how he is concerned about another part of the bill that states public school students may engage in the religious expression “in the same manner and to the same extent” that students are allowed to engage in secular expression.



 

 

Yet, the bill’s Republican sponsor, Timothy Ginter, is insisting that the reactions he's getting for the bill come from "urban myths." Ginter also mentioned that his bill will not allow students to submit incorrect classwork in the name of religion.

“A student would still not be allowed to say, “My religion tells me that the world was created and is only 6,000 years old, therefore I don’t have to answer this question,’” Ginter said.

However, if a student is asked to write a report about a book of their choice, the bill would ensure that they are not penalized for choosing to write about the Bible’s Book of Job. 



 

 

Ginter said that his bill is necessary because of increased pressure on schools from groups that he claims are “biased against Ohio students’ religious freedoms.”

“Many school officials are confused and frankly, intimidated by the threat of litigation from these well-funded groups,” Ginter said. Yet whatever Ginter’s intentions with the legislation, “the plain language of the bill is what a court is going to look at,” Daniels said.

“Taken alone in that context, the language is too broad and too vague.” The bill is being sent to Ohio’s Republican-controlled Senate for consideration.



 

Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.

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