Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 164 — the so-called “Student Religious Liberties Act” — which, if signed into law, would prohibit K-12 teachers from penalizing students for giving incorrect answers on tests or other schoolwork, if those facts conflict with their religious beliefs.
The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Timothy Ginter (R-Shelby), has built a reputation of introducing legislation based upon his personal religious beliefs; so the introduction of this bill was no surprise. What’s alarming is that his colleagues in the House supported this problematic bill.
HB 164 now moves on to the Ohio Senate for consideration. Click here to send a message to your State Senator asking them to oppose HB 164.
Our colleagues from the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) issued a statement calling the bill “unnecessary,” further stating that it “has the potential to infringe on the academic integrity of our public schools.” We agree.
The bill also has implications for higher education. Students exiting the K-12 system need to be critical thinkers and understand scientific fact. Ohio is setting up students for failure by preventing teachers from correcting factually-incorrect answers. This also could impact College Credit Plus courses taught by high school faculty or college and university professors.
In addition, although the bill is probably aimed at science content such as evolution, how long will it be before “religious” belief is used to justify complaints about climate science, political history, etc.?
Moreover, imagine what it would be like if a similar bill were passed that applied to post-secondary courses. Bad ideas get traction if they are not countered; and that is why we are asking our members to take action.
We urge our members to contact their Ohio Senators to ask them to oppose this misguided legislation. Click here to send a message to your State Senator asking them to oppose HB 164.