Screenshot of the Florida House of Representatives site, showing HB 989, 'Instructional Materials', which enables any county resident to challenge school curriculum and force removal of scientific studies like climate change and evolutionary biology. Graphic: Florida House of Representatives

By Alan Jude Ryland
5 July 2017

(Second Nexus) – New legislation allows anyone in Florida to challenge what’s taught in public schools. The measure, officially called Florida House Bill 989, went into effect Saturday. Representative Byron Donalds (R-Naples) introduced the bill in February. Governor Rick Scott signed it into law after it passed the Florida House with bipartisan support.

According to the National Center for Science Education,

With the law now in place, any county resident — not just any parent with a child in the country’s public schools, as was the case previously — can now file a complaint about instructional materials in the county’s public schools, and the school will now have to appoint a hearing officer to hear the complaint. […]

In May, Representative Donalds insisted that the bill was not intended to target any particular subject. Affidavits filed by supporters of the bill, however, suggest that science education will face considerable challenges. For example, an affidavit filed by Lynda Daniel, a resident of Marin County, admonishes the school board for its use of a textbook she believes promotes a “Nihilist, primitivist, de-growth, anti-development, anti-capitalist viewpoint which leaves the impression that the world was much better off when humans lived in small, isolated groups of hunter-gatherers”. […]

An affidavit from Mary Ellen Cash, a Collier County resident, charges that evolution and global warming were taught as “reality.” Still another affidavit––this one from Collier County resident David P. Bolduc––complains that an 8th-grade U.S. History textbook “teaches the children to glorify 13th century Muslim Kings of West Africa” and that it “teaches the children to be subservient to a despotic U.S. president” by teaching them about the president’s ability to issue executive orders.

In a blog post, Brandon Haught, of Florida Citizens for Science, a group of parents and teachers advocating for science education, condemns the new legislation. “This means our fight is only just now beginning,” he wrote. “Each and every one of us has to be on alert. You must keep an eye on your local school board and everyone who brings forth a complaint about textbooks. If you don’t, we truly lose. At this point the fight is at the local level. If you’re not there and willing to stand up for sound science education, then we’re done.” [more]

Florida Approves “Anti-Science” Legislation In Victory For Religious Right

3 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    This country is getting stupider and stupider. We need to keep religion out of the schools, out of government and out of business (and preferably, out of everyone's mindset). The interference this garbage has caused to humanity is incalculable.  

  2. Irhologram said...

    Let me get this straight. I am a childless woman. Lets say my reproductive organs were purposefully damaged in the 1950s by the 4 tetnus shots I got. During that time, tetnus shots were tested on the populace without our knowledge or permission... So as a responsible adult, in my community, I am not allowed to make sure that textbooks disclose unauthorized experimentation, but its ME who should be WATCHED? ("we must keep an eye on everyone who brings a complaint about a text book.")

    THINK! Has it not always been wrong to channel the correctness of ideas through self-insulated school board members and age specific adults, i.e., parents of school age children, during a 12 year period of their lives...encompassing the average ages of 25- 40, a time of full-throttle career development?

    Do you believe adults, aged 25-40 are more centered, mature, and have better judgement than folks whose successful kids already left the nest? Do you believe adults aged 25-40 have the time and stamina to research the validity of "scientific theories," to sift "truths" of historic events that were changed to suit current spin, and do you think these young adults, doubled down in their sexual and professional energies, already have such a lock on the meaning of life they're entltled to tell us all how things work?

    What gave communities the idea that only parents, aged 25-40, are affected by school curriculum that ultimately churns out ALL Community Standards theough the "proper" telling of ? Have you seen your local texts? Are you aware how they have progressively led to ...no offense to Sodom and Gomorah...but tell me, please... Now that multiculturalism opened the way to State financed transsexuality, do you not see the move to normalize pedoephilia as a "right", starting with shared toilets?

    As to being "anti-science," if science cannot stand scrutiny, it, itself, is religion, a belief firmly held without proof. Much of science is THEORY. I do NOT believe input for textbooks should be off limits to an entire society. We're the ones who have to live with it.

     

  3. Jim said...

    Hi Irhologram,

    Thanks for dropping by Desdemona! Here are couple of thoughts on science.

    "If science cannot stand scrutiny, it, itself, is religion, a belief firmly held without proof. Much of science is theory."

    All of science is theory, and this is a strength, not a weakness. A hypothesis becomes a theory when its predictions are successfully proven by observation; or rather, its predictions aren't disproven by observation. Any successful theory, like Einstein's general relativity, could be weakened by new observations. When this happens, it's cause for great excitement among scientists, because it implies new discoveries.

    Almost all scientific discoveries aren't obvious, which is why it took humans millennia to discover them. Frequently, there is a long, subtle chain of clues that leads to a discovery, and it can be very hard to explain how we got there. For example, it's hard to explain why relativistic physics is necessary to account for the puzzling result of the Michelson-Morley experiment that attempted to measure the speed of matter through the "aether", and it's even harder to explain why this is important to our understanding of our place in the universe.

    So you can see why we can't leave the science curriculum to people's pet beliefs, which are often directly at odds with our current scientific understanding of the world. Science must be taught by qualified professionals, and only these professionals can assemble a sensible curriculum for the next generation to build on our current knowledge.  

 

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