Passing a Student Choice Policy
Following is a sample presentation for passing a Student Choice Policy. A Student Choice Policy would allow students who object to dissection to be given an alternative assignment without being penalized for their choice. Click to see a copy of a Student Choice Policy (pdf file).
by the National Anti-Vivisection Society
Article continues below
As you all know, I am here today to request that our school pass a policy that will allow all students the option of an alternative to animal dissection.
A significant number of students at all grade levels are opposed to dissection, although not all of them have the courage to speak up. Having a Student Choice Policy at our school will help make science a positive experience for those students, as well as the others who choose to dissect.
Here are a few points I wish to make in support of having a Student Choice Policy:
Pressuring students to participate in, or observe animal dissection is unacceptable. Well-meaning instructors who believe students should be forced to participate in dissection against their beliefs may not realize the psychological and emotional damage they are inflicting. In the interest of providing a positive educational experience of science for ALL students, I respectfully ask that you pass a Student Choice Policy effective immediately in our school.
- The policy will not eliminate academic freedom. Instructors will still have the freedom to determine which alternatives will best teach the lesson, as well as honoring the beliefs of the students.
- Although an increasing number of states have passed laws protecting the rights of students who do not wish to dissect, students in every state have the right to an alternative to dissection if they are opposed to participating in the practice (Legal cases in the past support this.)
- The current situation is unfair. Some instructors may offer alternatives to students who request one, and other instructors may not. Having this policy will ensure all students are treated fairly all of the time.
- Instructors need not worry that a flood of students will request alternatives. In states and districts where student choice policies have been passed, requests for alternatives increase only slightly from year to year.
- Alternatives save money. The cost for alternatives can range from zero (such as the cost of drawing and labeling a diagram and doing a report) to hundreds of dollars for anatomical models and computer programs. However, no matter how much money is spent on alternatives it will be recovered over time because they don't have to be disposed of and re-ordered every term.
- Dissection is not a necessary experience. Even the American Medical Association supports the right of any student to decline to participate in dissection.
- Many students are forever turned off to science because of dissection requirements. According to informal surveys, thousands of adults have changed their majors or avoided science entirely because of dissection. Students may find it simply easier to avoid science classes altogether than to confront the teacher, challenge the curriculum and request an alternative. This is how some of our most compassionate students are shut out of careers in biology and human health sciences.
- Scientific studies report the effectiveness of alternatives. Numerous studies have shown alternatives are at least as effective for teaching science as animal dissection. The belief that dissection is a better way to learn is a perspective that is not shared by all educators.