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Maryland: Student Choice Bills Scheduled for Hearings in Senate and House

Maryland: Student Choice Bills Scheduled for Hearings in Senate and House

Name: Student Choice Policy for Animal Dissection

Bill Number: SB 369 / HB 544

Delegate Shane Robinson has joined Senator Ronald Young is sponsoring a bill that would require county school boards to develop and implement a policy to give students the choice to ask for an alternative project instead of participating in a classroom dissection activity or assessment. The policy would have to include notification of students and teachers about the availability of opt-out provisions. 

A recent Newsweek article exposed the cruelty to the animals used for dissection, yet another reason why schools should move away from dissecting animals in the classroom. 

A hearing is scheduled before the Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs on Wednesday, February 7 at 12:45 pm. Please notify Senator Young by February 6 if you would like to testify in person or in writing. 

A hearing is scheduled before the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, February 15 at 1:00 pm. Please notify Del. Robinson by February 14 if you would like to testify in person or in writing. 

If you or someone you know was denied the right to use a dissection alternative in a Maryland school, please send a message to NAVS. We need to hear from you! 

 

Recipients

  • Your State Senator or Senators
  • Your State Representative or Representatives

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Message

Please support county policies to allow students to opt out of dissection

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to ask your support for SB 369/HB 544, which would require county school boards to develop and implement a written policy to allow students to opt out of classroom dissection activities and assessments.

A similar bill was introduced in 2017, but this new legislation would give the county school boards the authority to draft their own policy language, as long as it includes accommodations for students who do not want to dissect, as well as provisions for notification of the policy to students and teachers.

Advancements in computer software now make it possible for schools to respect each student's ethical, moral or religious position regarding the humane treatment of animals without sacrificing learning objectives. There are many educationally excellent alternatives to dissection available online and through free loan programs. The ready availability of free or low-cost alternatives means there is little cost to a school--or to the state--in implementing a student choice policy.

According to responses from only half of the counties to Maryland Public Information Act requests in October-November 2017, school districts spent $115,000 dissecting thousands of animals, including frogs, cats and rabbits. According to this information, dissection is used as a teaching school in all Maryland counties, yet in response to a 2017 survey of Maryland biology teachers, 40% did not know if there is a policy in their school to allow students to opt out of dissection.

Please vote "yes" to ensure that all students and teachers in Maryland know about the availability of dissection alternatives and the option to use them.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]