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Conn. Lawmakers Debate Allowing Alternatives to Dissections

Debate is heating up in Connecticut over legislation that would require public schools to allow students to opt out of dissections or experiments with animals if they raise a conscientious objection, the Hartford Courant newspaper reports.

"This is about an ethical choice these kids are making," the newspaper quotes state Rep. Maryanne Hornish, a co-sponsor of the measure, as saying. "Some can't handle the blood and gore."

The bill was approved recently by the legislature's bicameral education committee and is similar to one introduced last year that reportedly made it to the Senate floor before it died without a vote.

Thirteen states currently have policies requiring schools to allow students to use alternatives to dissection, the Courant says, such as virtual dissections on computers.

But, the newspaper says, some teachers and biologists contend that although the computer programs are a good tool, they don't compare to the sensation of exploring a real animal.

"I would compare it to eating a hamburger online—:it's just not the same," said Jonathan Morris, past president of the Connecticut Association of Biology Teachers. "Having your hands on a living thing is often what teaches people the love of biology. It draws people in."

For more on this topic, check out an EdWeek story from 2004.

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