Instructional Materials bills: it’s not just about science

TextbooksWe’ve been working hard protesting against the passage of creationist-enabling bills in the state legislature that definitely will upset many school boards across the state when the reality of the bill’s purpose finally hits home. We’ve been highlighting the damage the Instructional Materials bills can have on science, obviously because our organization is all about science. But this bill will impact ALL subjects. Sun Sentinel columnist Gary Stein sheds some light on this: Johnny wants to read? Heavens, no:

Our Republican-led Legislature is trying to give prayer a heavier presence in school. And now they have two bills that would help parents object to books and classroom materials that may be, ahem, too liberal. If HB 989 and SB 1210 pass, residents could challenge books in school libraries and argue their views before “an unbiased and qualified hearing officer” who could decide if they are unsuitable.

Translation: Parents can bring complaints to conservative hearing officers who will help them get rid of the books they don’t want their kids seeing, instead of leaving the decision up to school boards which are often made up of liberal heathens.

I’m happy to see he also touches on science:

What if the book espouses evolution over creationism? Should one parent’s objection mean no child can read that book?

The whole idea of giving parents a bigger voice in complaining about books could be real time consuming. And hey, schools have plenty of extra time to worry about this kind of stuff, right?

My solution is simple. If parents don’t want their kids exposed to various ideas and books, let them home school the kid — and just let them read “acceptable” books.

Meanwhile, I used my speaking time at the Space Coast March for Science yesterday to tell the crowd of hundreds of science supporters about the threats science education faces. Here’s a copy of my remarks:

You are awesome. You marched here, standing up for science. But what are you going to do next? When today’s event is over, how will you keep on marching?

Do you want something to do? Good! I have something you can do.

You can help protect the future. In schools across this state are the future scientists and future voters and future leaders. I have news for you. You’re not getting any younger. One day they’ll be in charge. We need to make sure they’re prepared with a solid foundation of science knowledge.

But that’s difficult. Right now there are middle school students telling their teacher that the Earth is flat, and they mean it. Why? Because an NBA star said so.

It’s difficult because the Heartland Institute is mailing literature to science teachers nationwide that casts doubt on climate change in the hope some teachers will use the material in their classrooms.

And it’s difficult when our state legislature is considering a bill that will crack the foundation we’re trying to build if it becomes law. Creationists, climate change deniers and anti-vaccine nuts are gloating over how easily it’s gliding through.

The bill will mandate that school boards across the state take seriously the demands for equal time in textbooks and other instructional materials for anti-science nonsense. This bill changes the textbook selection process on the local level, allowing them to gum up the works and bully school boards into compromise.

So, do you want to do something when this march is over? Get out your phones. Do you have yours ready? Look up Florida Citizens for Science. Like Florida Citizens for Science on Facebook. Follow Florida Citizens for Science on Twitter. Bookmark the Florida Citizens for Science blog.

By the end of the day you will have forgotten all about me, but I won’t allow you to forget that you can keep on marching.

When you get home, do your homework. Don’t just believe what I’m telling you. See for yourself what this bill could do.

Keep on marching.

If you agree with our conclusions, then take the next step. Flood lawmakers with calls and emails to warn them about the dangers of this bill.

Keep on marching.

If that doesn’t work then tell our governor to veto the bill.

Keep on marching.

If that doesn’t work then school boards across this state are going to need your help against the creationists, the climate change deniers and the anti-vaccine nuts. Our teachers need you. Our students need you. The future of science needs you.

You’re here for a reason.

They need you to keep on marching.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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