All has been very quiet concerning the odious instructional materials bill lately. The bill would allow any resident, not just parents, to protest against what’s found in textbooks, including coverage of evolution, climate change, vaccines, etc. On top of that, school districts must appoint a hearing officer to consider such complaints. It’s bad news all around. But the bill has yet to be delivered to the governor for his signature. I’ve been searching high and low and asking many different people but I have yet to get answers concerning this part of the lawmaking process. Is waiting this long to give a bill to the governor normal? How long can legislators wait? Is there a deadline? I have no idea but I would love to know. Any help would be appreciated.
On the other hand, the religious liberties bill has been plopped onto the governor’s desk. He has until June 20 to take action on it. So, NOW would be a good time to contact his office and urge a veto. This bill would give teachers and school staff the right to express religious views in school and would allow students to express religious views in coursework without discrimination. For us here at Florida Citizens for Science, this is a concern because of the possibility of creationism and other religious views being inserted into science classrooms.
And we’re not alone. Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino doesn’t pull any punches in his latest piece: Banner flap at Boca High ought to be lesson for Florida lawmakers. Some excerpts:
The Palm Beach County School Board has had a practice of allowing religious groups to advertise their brand of salvation at county public schools. At least that was the practice until Stevens asked Boca Raton High School to display his banner, which said, “The Church of Satanology” and “Give the Devil his due.”
There’s nothing like tossing a Satanist in the punch bowl to get public organizations to shake themselves awake to the Constitutional dictates regarding the separation of church and state.
This session, our state lawmakers passed The Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act, a bill that encourages more religious proselytizing in public schools.
Its two main proponents have been Rep. Kim Daniels, a Democrat from Jacksonville. She’s a self-described apostle who came to the legislature as a Christian evangelical preacher. Daniels believes that witches are trying to take over the country, and may be working extra hard on President Donald Trump. Seriously.
In the Florida Senate, her partner in this quest is State Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican who owns a string of funeral homes and was the former executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida.
Baxley’s not a fan of evolution, and thinks it’s unfair that Florida’s public school children are being exposed to a science curriculum that doesn’t allow that the earth is just 6,000 years old.
They were the guiding hands that successfully passed a bill that would expand the role of religion in Florida’s public schools to levels that have alarmed the American Civil Liberties Union, the Florida Citizens for Science and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
I suspect that state lawmakers will do what the Palm Beach County School District is doing — remembering that promoting religious expression in public schools means promoting all forms of religious expression. Something that’s suddenly not such a great idea.