News Roundup 12/10/17

Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell wrote a piece about the new instructional materials bill we have in Florida as well as the pre-filed bill that’s waiting for the next legislative session: Book-banning — a crusade for Florida’s simplest minds.

And now, a new bill would allow activists to suggest new books students read instead — and require school boards to solicit bids for the book, no matter how nutty it is.

You want kids to read a book about why the earth is flat? Or how to plan a school shooting? It doesn’t matter. Under this new bill, any request would require districts to solicit bids.


Schools used to be meant for education. Now, they are battlefields for political gamesmanship. Children are merely the pawns.

It started last year when Republican legislators, with help from some Democrats, wanted to embolden the book-banning set.

Responding to the anti-evolution crowd, they passed a law making it easier for citizens — even those who don’t even have children in public schools — to challenge books they find offensive.


And once again, even though [Naples Republican Byron] Donalds said his bill was designed to empower taxpayers who fund schools, his bill wouldn’t allow the same book-meddling at taxpayer-funded voucher schools.

His resume, by the way, lists him as “a founding board member” of a charter school in Naples.

WFSU did a radio piece on the new instructional materials law. The story starts at 19:55.

A new Florida law allows any state resident to challenge what’s being taught in public schools. A handful of complaints have been filed in school districts statewide since the law took effect in July. Cathy Carter with member station WUSF in Tampa spoke with Renalia (ren-NAIL-ee-uh) DuBose (duh-BOZE), a professor at W-M-U Cooley Law School in Tampa about what the new Florida textbook challenge law is all about.

Florida Citizens for Science member and Gainesville resident Jiri Hulcr had an opinion piece published in the Gainesville Sun about her experience speaking in front of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. She was there to oppose the proposal to allow public money to fund religious organizations (such as voucher schools that teach creationism instead of evolution). Don’t use taxpayer money to fund religious organizations.

The meeting was eye-opening. What I witnessed was not prudent and unbiased deliberation, but a show scripted for public consumption. Several commissioners did not even pretend to represent the people, and instead were justifying a clear agenda. Commissioner John Stemberger, for example, was beaming with excitement as he proceeded to lecture about the benefits of connecting, not separating, church and state.

“Faith is a public good … Our job [as the commission] is not to be successful, it is to be faithful,” Stemberger said.

And here’s a news story in the Orlando Sentinel about private schools that take state money: Florida school voucher reforms proposed.

Two people from the audience, both in favor of the scholarship programs, were allowed to speak before Rep. Chris Latvala, chairman of the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee, said the meeting was over.

Catherine Baer, of the Tea Party Network and part of a coalition of education advocacy organizations called Common Ground, said she had hoped to speak.

“I don’t want my tax dollars being used to teach religion,” she said after the meeting. “That’s not our government’s job.”

Nearly 80 percent of students on the scholarships attend religious schools, with some teaching creationism instead of evolution.

A guest op-ed in the Northwest Florida Daily News shows a shocking ignorance of basic science. The writer obviously never learned a thing about science in his school days: Science does not represent truth.

The theory of evolution that is accepted by science as fact is an untruth and cannot be proven unless you make huge jumps in conclusions based on a guess, pure fiction based on acceptable fiction.

If you say DNA never dies but can be mutated by circumstances in the environment or manipulated by outside aspects, and you called that evolution, you might be right. But to jump to the conclusion that a whale grew legs and became a dinosaur, or a monkey is mankind’s relative, is more than a wild guess. It is not based on anything close to real truth. Truth does not come from educated idiots and there are many.

And last but not least there is this story about voucher schools, featuring some information from Florida: Voucher Schools Championed By Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies.

When Balzak attended a secular college in 2009, it was a shock to the system, she said. In her first environmental science class, she learned about climate change ― a concept she had been taught was a hoax.

“When I took my first real science class, a million light bulbs went off,” said Balzak, who had only been taught creationism in school. “Everything finally made sense.”

The experience made Balzak feel robbed of a fact-based education.

Indeed, Balzak’s former school, Coral Springs Christian Academy [Florida], includes a statement of faith in its parent-student handbook, which is posted on its website: “We believe God created the entire universe out of nothing.”

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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