My sincere apologies, folks. I have a laundry list of bad news to tell you about. Let’s get right to it.
“Controversial Theories” bill
I’ve already told you about Senate Bill 966, introduced by Sen. Dennis Baxley, that proposes allowing school districts to adopt their own sets of educational standards if they are equal to more more rigorous than the state’s educational standards. Among the suggestions for “more rigorous” science standards is: “Controversial theories and concepts must be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner.” We all know that means balancing evolution and climate change with some form of creationism and climate change denial.
Now for the update. Baxley’s bill has a counterpart in the the other chamber: House Bill 825. It’s a duplicate of the senate bill, which is bad news. With bills in both chambers, that increases the odds of the bills advancing. The House bill was introduced by Rep. Charlie Stone from Ocala. I don’t know much about him or if he has any past run-ins with evolution or science education. If you know of anything, please tell us about it.
One bright spot is that individuals and organizations are starting to mobilize against the bills. For instance, the Secular Coalition for Florida issued an Action Alert that includes a form you can use to send emails to lawmakers.
A new “Instructional Materials” bill
Next on our bad news list is the filing of a new bill that once again targets schools’ instructional materials: House Bill 827. This bill is stuffed with lots of suggested changes and modifications to how instructional materials are chosen and challenged. It’s going to take a while to digest it all, but one thing of note is that it has some language that mirrors the “controversial theories” bill in that it pushes for “more rigorous” standards. Also, the bill was filed by Rep. Byron Donalds, the same guy who successfully ushered through last year’s bad instructional materials bill that is now law. It’s clear that he and Baxley are working closely with the creationist and climate change denying folks at the Florida Citizens Alliance. We need to follow this bill closely.
Florida Constitution Revision Commission
And my final bit of sour news is that today the Commission considered Proposal 4, which proposes to “Amend Section 3 of Article I of the State Constitution to remove the prohibition against using public revenues in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or any sectarian institution.” I explained why this is a bad idea in a previous post. A hearing on the proposal was held this afternoon. If the vote was favorable (according to the analysis document) …
If approved by the Constitution Revision Commission, the proposal will be placed on the ballot at the November 6, 2018, General Election. Sixty percent voter approval is required for adoption. If approved by the voters, the proposal will take effect on January 8, 2019.
A similar proposal was submitted to voters in the 2012 General Election. The proposal received 44.5% of the vote and was not adopted.
I got word that it was approved 7 to 1.