Missouri lawmaker wants to make evolution teaching optional

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CASS COUNTY (KCTV) — A lawmaker from Cass County believes the Missouri General Assembly should allow parents to opt out of evolution teaching to their children.

Second-term Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, said his bill is an attempt to address his concern about teaching evolution in a way that is more palatable to lawmakers than his last three unsuccessful efforts. The previous efforts would have mandated *how* schools teach evolution, requiring that it be taught alongside a biblical perspective referred to as intelligent design or creationism. This year’s effort keeps the curriculum as-is and uses the language of “choice.”

“What my bill would do is it would allow parents to opt out of natural selection teaching,” Brattin explained. “It would not prohibit the child from going through biology from learning about cell structure, DNA and the building blocks of life.”

Brattin contends public schools teach Darwinian theory as fact and says kids who question it are ridiculed.

“Our schools basically mandate that we teach one side,” said Brattin. “It is an indoctrination because it is not objective approach.”

But two teens from the Cass County town of Adrian said they don’t learn anything about evolution at their high school. When asked what they thought about teaching evolution, the one 16-year-old answered, “What’s that?” The other explained to the other, “It’s whether God is real or not.”

They said they think it would be good for students to learn about it.

The mothers of those two girls supported the bill, along with a number of others in the lawmaker’s home area.

“I definitely think parents should be notified if evolution is taught because I believe in creation,” said Drexel resident Tina Decavale.

Brandon Eastwood, of Harrisonville, echoed that support, and went a step further.

“Evolution is not taught in the Bible so it shouldn’t be taught in the class,” he said. “Even if I had to spend some time in jail I wouldn’t subject my kids to that nonsense.”

Eastwood’s kids are already grown, but he said he never had to make that choice because it wasn’t an issue when his children were young.

“They didn’t teach evolution in the early 90s…that I know of,” he said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t have been in school.”

The two teens from Adrian didn’t have an opinion on the bill itself, but said they wished the choice went both ways.

“I think we should learn about it,” said the one girl.

“So do I,” said her friend. “I think it would be good for all of us to know.”

Not all school districts in Missouri teach evolution. The state Department of Secondary and Elementary Education does not require it. That is up to each locally elected school board.

Four states already have anti-evolution laws on their books.

By Betsy Webster & DeAnn Smith

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