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States push anti-science bills to ‘belittle evolution’ — but could allow teaching of eugenics, too

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A series of new legislative proposals in several states take aim at schools teaching evolution, the Hill reports.

Senators in South Dakota approved a Senate Bill 55 on Wednesday barring schools from prohibiting teachers from questioning established scientific theories. It could be assigned to a South Dakota House committee next week.

“No teacher may be prohibited from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to,” the 36-word bill reads.

South Dakota Sen. Jeff Monroe sponsored the bill following failed attempts in 2014 and 2015 to give teachers more leeway regarding controversial scientific lessons. In 2014, Monroe sponsored SB 112, which would have stopped school boards from prohibiting teachers from teaching creationism.

Though South Dakota’s SB 55 doesn’t specifically mention evolution, experts say the bill leaves the door open for teachers to teach whatever they want with regards to controversial topics.

“This is horrible, but let’s say I believe in eugenics,” Deb Wolf, a high school science instructional coach told the Argus Leader. “(SB 55) says that I couldn’t be prohibited, I couldn’t be stopped from teaching that as long as I did it in an objective scientific manner, and it doesn’t specify what that means.”

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Similar bills are making their way through legislatures in Oklahoma and Indiana. According to the National Center for Science Education, Oklahoma’s SB 393 would require administrators to “assist teachers [in finding] effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.” And Indiana’s Senate Resolution 17 would urge the state department of education “to reinforce support of teachers who choose to teach a diverse curriculum.”

“Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), that the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics can generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society,” Indiana’s Senate Resolution 17 reads.

Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, told the Hill the language of these bills makes them “very hard to challenge on the basis that they’re unconstitutional, because they’re not requiring anyone to do anything.”

“They’re no longer trying to ban teaching evolution,” Branch said. “They’re no longer trying to balance teaching evolution. They’re now trying to belittle evolution.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Democrats in spirited first 2020 debate

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Ten Democrats clashed in the first debate of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday with Elizabeth Warren cementing her status as a top-tier candidate and several underdogs using the issue of immigration to clamor for the limelight.

The biggest American political debate since the 2016 presidential campaign is occurring over two nights in Miami, climaxing Thursday with former vice president Joe Biden squaring off against nine challengers, including number two candidate Bernie Sanders.

But Wednesday's first take was a spirited encounter between Democrats like ex-congressman Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on subjects as varied as health care, economic inequality, climate action, gun violence, Iran and immigration.

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Here are 4 winners and 9 losers from the first 2020 Democratic primary debate

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With ten candidates on stage Wednesday, the opening debate of the 2020 Democratic primary in Miami was a packed mess. And this was only the first course in a two-part event — 10 more candidates will debate on the following night.

A crowded field makes it difficult to stand out, and that means that even after a big night like a debate, the most likely result is that not much changes. But the debate was still significant, giving candidates the chance to exceed, meet, or fall below expectations for their performances.

Here's a list — necessarily subjective, of course — of the people who came out on the top when the dust was settled, and those who came out on the bottom.

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Here are 3 ways Julián Castro stood out in the first Democratic Debate

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There were many predictions going into the first Democratic debate on MSNBC, but no one predicted that Julián Castro would break out from the crowd.

Check out the top three ways Castro stood out from the crowd.

Immigration:

The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was the outright winner of the immigration section of the debate

It should "piss us all off," Castro said about the father and his little girl who were found face-down in the shores of the Rio Grande River this week. “It’s heartbreaking."

Castro is a second generation American who got into specifics on immigration policy, calling for an outright "Marshall Plan" style of action for Guatemala and Honduras. He joined with other Democrats calling for an end to President Donald Trump's family separation policy, but he then suggested ending the "metering" of legitimate asylum seekers.

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