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Schools in South Dakota should teach both sides of the global warming issue, Republican state Rep. Don Kopp of Rapid City says. Kopp plans to push that idea during the upcoming legislative session with a bill that would require public schools that teach the threats of global warming to also provide students with the skeptical view of climate change.

“If a school is paid for with public funds, if they teach global warming or show Al Gore’s video, as most of our schools here in Rapid City did, then they will have to show the opposing view,” Kopp said Monday. “I believe that’s only fair. If they only hear one side of the story, that’s all they get.”

Kopp said he has pre-filed legislation in the Legislature that would change the law requiring both sides of global warming to be covered in school classes, if the issue is brought up at all. He doesn’t intend to include a penalty for schools that don’t follow the law but also doubts it would be necessary.

“If it passes, I assume they (schools) will follow the law and show both sides of the issue,” he said.

House Republican leader Bob Faehn of Watertown expects Kopp’s bill to face stiff opposition in the Legislature. Education officials and school board members are likely to challenge the idea of state lawmakers determining curriculum at the local level, he said.

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“I can say that from my experience, these types of things usually fail, because the schools don’t typically like to be dictated to like that,” Faehn said. “It’s probably going to come down to the fact that that’s really a school board decision, not ours. But who knows?”

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Kopp said the bill is aimed at public schools, from kindergarten through college. It isn’t intended to affect private schools, he said.

“I don’t think it’s that big of an issue in the private schools,” Kopp said.

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@rapidcityjournal.com

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