Having apparently solved all other problems, California’s state legislature is now considering new legislation that would ban all dissections in high school science classes. What they hope to accomplish by doing this is a mystery, but for any budding young scientists out there, it represents the loss of a chance to learn about anatomy in a hands-on environment. But hey… this is California we’re talking about, so it probably doesn’t have to make much sense. The proposed bill was introduced by state assembly member Ash Kalra.
Students in any California public or private school, grades one through 12, could soon be prohibited from performing dissections.
Assembly member Kalra introduced the bill last week that would ban dissection in all schools, altering the California education code.
The current law allows students who have a moral objection to dissecting an animal in class to refrain from the dissection and complete an alternate education project approved by their teacher that teaches the same lesson.
You can read the full text of the bill and the proposed, amended language of the applicable statute here. They’re calling it the “Modernization of Biological Teaching Methods and Pupils’ Rights to Refrain From the Harmful or Destructive Use of Animals.”
The entire name of this bill is disingenuous and the proposals make no sense. This proposal doesn’t “modernize” anything about teaching biology. It eliminates one of the more basic lab experiments that students who are pursuing an education in the sciences can participate in. (And weren’t we supposed to be focusing on getting more students into STEM studies?) As to the “pupils’ rights” in question, the existing law already allows for students with moral objections to skip the dissection and complete another appropriate project of similar scientific value.
If you’re wondering what “harmful or destructive use” is going on, no explanation is offered. The animals used in these experiments are already dead. (Generally frogs or fetal pigs in most cases.) They’re not being tortured or kept alive in abusive conditions. What sort of feel-good message is Ash Kalra going for here? Any student who chooses to study biology or medicine in college is eventually going to have to deal with dissections anyway, so preparing them at an early age and stimulating their interest should be an obvious choice.
This is just the latest round of rainbows and unicorns being substituted for common sense in the field of education. Congratulations, California! You’re once again saving the world from nothing.