Fight To End Animal Dissection In Grades K-12 Stopped By Teachers’ Associations and Big Animal Agriculture

California students who want their schools to engage in modern, state-of-the-art scientific practices, have more work to do today as AB 1586, a bill to ban outdated, and inhumane real-animal dissection practices, and implement more effective alternatives, stalled in California’s Assembly Education Committee on a 3-2-1 vote.

Although the bill received a majority of those voting, it needed four votes to pass. Assemblymembers Ash Kalra, Christy Smith and Dr. Shirley Weber demonstrated great courage in voting in support. Chair of the Committee, Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, and Co-Chair, Assemblymember Kevin Kiley voted against the bill, while Assemblymember Kevin McCarty abstained from voting, despite being involved in the committee’s discussion of the bill.

AB 1586 (Kalra), also known as the Replacing Animals in Science Education (RAISE) Act, would have required California Schools to replace animal cadaver dissection activities with more effective, modern teaching methods for a more humane, environmentally friendly experience, while enhancing the educational benefits for all students. Under AB 1586, all California schools would have replaced less effective, real-animal dissection practices, with modern, non-animal teaching methods that achieve better educational outcomes. Nearly three dozen academic reports have found that alternatives to animal dissection either provide equivalent or superior academic outcomes for students.

“Animal dissection has played an instrumental role in helping students learn about anatomy and biology in our classrooms. However, with the advancements in educational technology, educators have effective and reliable opportunities to take the next step in using more humane, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible ways to educate students. California has always led by example and it is time that we take the next step in adopting modern and more effective educational methods that will better prepare all students for higher education and careers in science,” says Assemblymember Kalra.

“In 2019, dissecting animals comes at a great cost to schools, exposes students and educators to carcinogenic chemicals, hurts animals and the environment, and is less effective in teaching anatomy than modern methods. Today, simulation-based learning, which includes online, virtual, 3-D, and hands on instructional methodologies are all examples of the best-practice standards currently used in medical schools. Despite this, the bill’s failure to pass the Assembly Education Committee exemplifies that facts are not enough to change the embedded culture surrounding outdated teaching methods,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL), who sponsored the legislation. “Fortunately, two other anti-animal bills were stopped by a coalition of animal groups and thoughtful, forward-looking legislative leadership.”

While SCIL was devastated by the outcome of AB 1586, they were happy that two other bills that would have removed animal protections, AB 700 and AB 527, were also stopped in committee. AB 527 (Voepel) would have repealed California’s landmark 1970 ban on crocodile and alligator skins, putting the state back 50 years on this important issue. AB 700 (Friedman), a bill on transparency and disclosure, was written in such a way that it would have made it impossible to know the truth about animal testing in California. Both of these bills will not advance this year in a win for animals and the animal rights movement.

Top academic programs including the International Baccalaureate, the Next Generation Science Standards (which California adopted in 2013), and the College Board’s Advanced Placement program, do not require—or mention—animal dissection in their curricula. There is no current mandate in the state to dissect animals, although it continues.

“AB 1586 would have sent the message that California stands with current and humane teaching methodologies, scientific fact, and educational best-practices,” Mancuso added. “Animal and education advocates will continue to stand up for what is right, despite this setback.”

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