Instructional Materials Bills Update

My column was published in the Community Voices section of today’s Daytona Beach News Journal: Don’t mix science, religion in public schools. It’s haysa rebuttal to a previous column written by a Flagler County school board member. She supported the two very bad instructional materials bills currently languishing in the Florida legislature. My piece goes out on a limb with a fun analogy inspired by the bills’ senate sponsor. Sen. Hays is a dentist, semi-retired. I felt I needed to poke him a bit while I still could. Hays announced recently that he’s not running for reelection in the senate but is instead shooting for a supervisor of elections position. He won’t be missed by us at Florida Citizens for Science. But he will be missed by me, though, because he was a reliable anti-evolution quote machine. Read some of his greatest hits in my latest Going Ape post.

As far as the bad bills are concerned, the good news is that neither one has been scheduled for a single committee hearing. The bills in their current form are essentially dead. There’s not enough time left in the legislative session for them to see any progress.

Notice I said “in their current form.” That’s because a part of the concept behind the bills is alive and now lurking as an amendment to a different bill that is moving along. This Tampa Bay Times blog has the scoop. So, the folks behind those bad instructional materials bills have managed a small victory and so have we. If the amendment survives and the bill it’s attached to passes into law, a subset of what they don’t like — “any material containing mature or adult content” — can be challenged. But I don’t see how the amendment can be stretched to apply to our main concern: science education. Here’s the amendment:

The parent of each public school student in grades 6 through 12 must be provided, for each course offered at the school in which the student is enrolled, a course syllabus with a complete listing by title of the instructional materials to be used in the course. The syllabus must identify any material containing mature or adult content and notify the parent of the procedures for objecting to his or her child’s use of a specific instructional material pursuant to s. 1006.28(1)(a)2.

What do you think?

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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4 Responses to Instructional Materials Bills Update

  1. Pierce R. Butler says:

    Does Florida (or federal) law provide any definition of “mature or adult content”, or do the authors of this proposal intend to open a door for anyone demanding their high-schoolers remain immature and juvenile?

  2. Chris says:

    The State and Feds have addressed obscenity, which might not fall into your definition of mature or adult content.

    I don’t think the bottom line concern here is a immature juvenile, but rather the perverted indoctrination of unnecessary trash.

  3. Irv Povlow says:

    “Dreaming in Cuban” has received critical acclaim since its publication in 1992 and was also a finalist for the National Book Award. In response to the controversy, the Cuban-born novelist said these types of complaints had never occurred before and should not be a reason to deprive students from a broader cultural experience.

    “Many works, not just mine, are misinterpreted or misguidedly banned because of the limitations and short-sightedness of a few,” Garcia said.

    Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel “Beloved” once faced similar challenges after parents complained its sexual content and violence made it unsuitable for classrooms. The book is widely read in high schools today and is featured at The Library of Congress in an exhibit titled “Books That Shaped America.”
    Doug Lewis an attorney, and a parent misinformed the television public and the school board members, staff and others in attendance at the meeting by stating that the library book Speaking in Cuban is obscene and pornographic. Dreaming in Cuban” has received critical acclaim since its publication in 1992 and was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Many works, not just mine, are misinterpreted or misguidedly banned because of the limitations and short-sightedness of a few,” the author Garcia said.

    Did Mr. Lewis skip the law class: The Supreme Court established the basic legal standard for pornography in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 93 S. Ct. 2607, 37 L. Ed. 2d 419 (1973). Chief Justice Warren E. Burger stated in Miller that pornographic material would be classified as obscene if it met three criteria: (1) the work, taken as a whole by an average person applying contemporary community standards, appeals to the prurient interest; (2) the work depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and (3) the work, when taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

  4. Anne Hartley says:

    Note that “Dreaming in Cuban” and “Beloved” were library books objected to by Florida Citizens’ Alliance supporters. These novels weren’t being used in courses. Collier County has a policy in place for parents to challenge materials they object to, but not one single formal challenge has been filed. They seem to be working toward getting this state legislation passed so when the District rejects their attempts to whitewash history or sanitize literature, they’ll appeal to Circuit Court, then can waste more public funds – and staff time and energy. It’s appalling that they claim to represent taxpayers, but want to do anything they can to waste District operational funds. We have to fix this in August, by electing candidates who will stand up for public schools, not tear them down.

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