In my previous post I said that the “instructional materials” bills in the state legislature don’t look like they’re going anywhere. But I also said that they can’t be considered dead yet. I was right:Â ‘No bill is dead’ in Florida Senate Education, chairman says.
Chairman John Legg told the Gradebook the bills still have a chance to move.
“We are in Week 4 of session. No bill is dead,” Legg said, noting his committee is likely to meet at least twice more.
Florida Citizens for Science gets a brief mention:
He said the instructional materials bill by Sen. Alan Hays is very complicated, with many details that could affect school and district decisions. Florida Citizens Alliance wants to see “revisionist history” removed from materials, for instance, while Florida Citizens for Science has battled the proposals as an effort to put creationism into science textbooks.
But even if the bills finally appear on the committees’ schedules, there are a few more committee stops they have to make before they can be presented to the full House and Senate.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Smith, Florida Citizens for Science president, is not standing idly by. He has a letter in the Lakeland Ledger voicing our opposition to the bills. I’ll reproduce it in full here:
As a taxpayer, would you like to see your own school district throw away millions of dollars and countless hours of media attention, just to appease ideologically driven special interest groups?
Disguised by the smoke and mirrors diatribe of the â€œlocal controlâ€ mantra, Sen. Alan Haysâ€™ bill (SB 1018 and the companion bill HB 899) would open the doors to endless and expensive headaches over what kinds of textbooks and other materials should be used in Floridaâ€™s classrooms.
The language in Haysâ€™ bill seems innocent and full of taxpayer empowerment.
For example, parents can currently complain to the local school board if thereâ€™s anything objectionable in a textbook. But the bill, if passed into law, would give any taxpayer the additional superpower of taking the complaint to court if he or she didnâ€™t get what they wanted out of the school board. Hays might as well call this bill the â€œ2016 Trial Lawyers Employment Act.â€
The bill would require instructional materials to â€œprovide a non inflammatory, objective and balanced viewpoint on all issues,â€ which sounds great.
However, the reality is that some people will view biological evolution, which is accepted solid science, as inflammatory, when presented â€œunbalancedâ€ by other non-science alternatives in the textbooks.
One of the main organizations who helped write and promote these bills â€“ Florida Citizens Alliance â€“ has already gone on record saying as much. They are also opposed to students learning about climate change.
Perhaps another appropriate name for Hayâ€™s bill would be the â€œSpecial Interest Entitlement Act.â€
Iâ€™m sure creationists and global-warming deniers will rejoice!
Jonathan P. Smith
Florida Citizens for Science