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Banning Dissection in K-12 Schools

Banning Dissection in K-12 Schools

Name: Banning Dissection in K-12 Schools

Dissection sacrifices living animals so that students—some as early as 3rd grade—can study the animals’ anatomies. Starting with cows’ eyes and fish, then moving on to frogs, and finally fetal pigs and cats, students are given scalpels and asked to cut into these creatures. The use of cats, which is prevalent in high school classrooms, can be particularly troubling to students who view a cat as a member of the family, not as a specimen for experimentation. Over the years, alternatives to the use of live animals—models, computer simulations and, most recently, virtual reality simulators—have been used to teach students about life science without the need to harm any animals.

While 16 states and the District of Columbia have student choice laws or policies that allow students to opt-out of dissection, newly proposed legislation in one of those states—California—would mandate an outright ban on dissection, and would ensure that students have access to the best modern education has to offer. Dissection, an educational “tradition” that dates back more than a century, presumes that students can best learn about the life sciences through the study of dead animal specimens. With the development of many proven methods of instruction that are more engaging and learning friendly, it is time for science educators to move away from the old-fashioned ways of the past and to adopt modern, humane alternatives for the future.

California’s proposed dissection ban represents the next bold move in ending this archaic method of teaching and ensuring that students receive the best education possible—all without harming animals. It is the next logical step in ending dissection as a classroom education once and forever.

Please send a message to your state legislators that you support an end to dissection and ask them to consider introducing a similar bill next year in your state.

 

Call to Actions:

  1. Please contact your state Senator and Representatives and urge them to support this important legislation.
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Recipients

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

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Message

Support offering a 21st Century education to all students

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to ask you to consider sponsoring a bill that would end an obsolete and troubling method of education for students in grades K-12. I'm talking about dissection and it's time to end our reliance on a science "teaching" exercise that has been in place since the beginning of the 20th century.

Classroom dissection sacrifices living animals so that students--some as early as 3rd grade--can study animals' anatomies. Starting with cows' eyes and fish, then moving on to frogs and finally fetal pigs and cats--students are given scalpels and asked to cut into these creatures. The use of cats, which is prevalent in high school classrooms, can be particularly troubling to students who view a cat as a member of the family, not as a specimen for experimentation.

Alternatives to the use of live animals--models, computer simulations and, most recently, virtual reality simulators--have been used to teach students about life science without the need to harm any animals for decades. Every year, more sophisticated and engaging alternatives are developed and put to use in classrooms across the country, yet the use of dead animals as an educational tool remains.

In the interest of providing the best available modern educational methods to our students, please consider sponsoring legislation that would mandate an end to the archaic and cruel practice of dissection.

A model law, based on a current California bill, follows.


An Act to End the Use of Dissection in Classrooms in Grades K-12

Sec. 1. Purpose:
This bill would prohibit a pupil in any private or public school in kindergarten and grades 1 through 12, from performing dissection.

Sec. 2. Definitions:
(a) "Animal" means any living organism of the kingdom animalia, beings that typically differ from plants in capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor response to stimulation by a usually greater mobility with some degree of voluntary locomotor ability and by greater irritability commonly mediated through a more or less centralized nervous system, beings that are characterized by a requirement for complex organic nutrients including proteins or their constituents that are usually digested in an internal cavity before assimilation into the body proper, and beings that are distinguished from typical plants by lack of chlorophyll, by an inability to perform photosynthesis, by cells that lack cellulose walls, and by the frequent presence of discrete complex sense organs.

(b) "Alternative education project" includes, but is not limited to, the use of video recordings, three-dimensional models, films, books, interactive simulation software and computers, and assessments of knowledge that would provide an alternate avenue for obtaining the knowledge, information, or experience required by the course of study in question. "Alternative education project" also includes "alternative test."

(c) "Pupil" means a person under 18 years of age who is matriculated in a course of instruction in an educational institution.

(d) "Dissection" means the viewing of the, or act of, dismembering or otherwise destructive use of an invertebrate or vertebrae animal, in part or in whole, preserved or freshly killed, in the study of biological sciences. Animal dissection does not include fixed histological samples of any species, including, but not limited to, plain or stained microscope slides, owl pellets, human autopsy viewing, and plastinated human organs.

Sec. 3.
A pupil shall not perform dissection in a public or private school.

Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, Sec. 3 applies to all levels of instruction in all public and private schools operating programs in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive.

Thank you for your consideration,

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