Polk County update

A school board meeting was held yesterday in Polk County. It was one of those long affairs as it was the annual organization meeting where officers are voted on and such. Science never came up.

Then the public comment period was opened and a few people asked the board’s support for the typical local concerns. Finally, Florida Citizens for Science president Joe Wolf and board member Jonathan Smith spoke. Both filled their three minute allowances with notes of caution, using the Dover, Pa. intelligent design trial as an example of what could happen right there in Polk County. Jonathan also made the pointed remark that he hoped all the school board members had actually taken the time to view and comment on the new draft science standards on the standards website. Joe and Jonathan later noted that they got no feedback from the board, verbal or non-verbal, during their presentations.

The Lakeland Ledger reported on the meeting. After Joe and Jonathan spoke, an eighth-grade teacher assured the board that he could teach intelligent design without tripping over religion.

“When you talk about laws in nature it shows some order or design,” said Lawrence Hughes, who has taught at the academy for 16 years. “The laws of nature don’t support change from one organism to another organism.”

Four of the seven School Board members have said they support teaching intelligent design in addition to evolution in public school science classes. Board members did not respond when Smith and Joe Wolf, president of the Florida Citizens for Science, spoke about their opposition to intelligent design, but board member Margaret Lofton thanked Hughes after his talk.

“I support what you have to say,” Lofton told Hughes.

You might want to let Lofton know that her support is misplaced. Margaret Lofton, Margaret.Lofton@polk-fl.net.

Wesley Elsberry, who is from Polk County and and still has family there, has a few things to say on the matter.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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9 Responses to Polk County update

  1. Josh says:

    I wrote to the members of the Polk School Board last night who want ID included in the science standards. This was the response from Hazel Sellers:

    “As I re-explained to the paper today. I do not have an issue with the standards. I personally believe in a God that created the world, science is the investigation through evidence we find here as to how creation of this world happened. I will support our state standards. My faith is not in conflict with science. I believe my explanation was misinterpreted by the paper. Hope this clears up my stand on this issue.”

    She claims to have been misquoted by the paper. Either she has decided to keep her personal religious views separate from public policy, or she is not being entirely forthcoming.

  2. John Osmond says:

    The Ledger article is clearly trying to stir up mud.

    The article is misleading right from the start. The first two paragraphs make it sound like Polk County is in for a “million dollar lawsuit” if the “group who support the addition of evolution into proposed science standards” gets their way.

    The million dollar lawsuit will come only if the School Board succeed by inserting intelligent design creationism into science class. That’s the proposal that would be unconstitutional, not the inclusion of a widely accepted science in science class.

    Also, as you read the article pay attention to how much of its verbiage is given to the creationists and how much is given to rational thinking people. Paragraph after paragraph is given to quoting or explaining the creationist point of view and only a few sentences are given to the scientists. (And one of the scientists’ quotes is taken out of context as I have pointed out at the beginning of this post.)

    I doubt The Ledger has taken sides, but I bet they love the idea of a controversy. So what better way to stir up the faithful than to mislead a story and to deceive the public about who is the attacker and who is the attacked.

  3. Brandon Haught says:


    We have our suspicions of the same thing. It’s possible that what might have been a little ember has been fanned into a flame by the newspaper. However, we can’t discount what Kay Fields has said before and what Lofton says in the most recent article. Recall that Fields was the first to make a splash about this.

  4. John Osmond says:

    Indeed Brandon. Fields seems to be the first to make a splash. That was my point near the end of my post. I apologize if I did not make that clear.

    It is always the religious people who do the attacking, but they always claim to be the ones under attack. I asked the following questions in a separate post and would like to repeat them here.

    When have you ever heard of a scientist going to a church and demanding equal time to criticize the content being presented there?

    When have you ever heard of a scientist getting on a church board so s/he can influence and change the direction of the church’s view?

    It’s clear to me that these people get onto school boards with hidden agendas. And the agenda always has a religious purpose – to attack science. Not to challenge scientific ideas in a scientific way.

    They never publish peer review scientific articles. They never introduce scientific evidence for one theory over another. They never describe testable hypotheses. They never debate science with other scientists.

    Instead, they insist on having influence over young minds. That is why they skip common scientific rigor and acceptance standards and go right for the high school biology class.

    They are deceitful and deceptive. They are, just as Alan Bonsell and Bill Buckingham have been found to be, liars.

  5. firemancal says:

    Well, I am not surprised. I sent and email to one of the board memebers and I did not get an answer. I also sent a letter to the editor @ the daytona beach news journal. I hope it will make it into the paper. Maybe op-ed?

  6. Brandon Haught says:


    Good luck with the letter. I’ve sent several letters to the News-Journal over the years and haven’t had luck yet.

  7. Mike Blair says:

    Bring it on!

    I hope there is a lawsuit, but this time the defendants hire a lead counsel who actually SHOWS UP for the trial.

  8. Josh Krupnick says:

    Mike Blair,
    Why would you want a lawsuit to happen? A legal precedent has already been set, and Polk will lose a huge amount of money that could be used to educate children. That would be horrible.

    I wish that these nutjobs on the Polk school board would start listening to their own science teachers. It’s a sad situation when you have people making science education policies without any basic knowledge of science themselves. Really, it’s the blind leading the blind.

  9. Pingback: Threads from Henry’s Web » Blog Archive » The Continued Saga of Science Education

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