We were deeply worried when the 2018 Florida legislative session kicked off because several bills had been filed that would have directly and negatively impacted science education. A pair of Controversial Theories bills (otherwise known as Academic Freedom bills) would have required in district-adopted science standards that: “Controversial theories and concepts must be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner.” Another pair of bills would have yet again changed how instructional materials are reviewed and selected, allowing for many more opportunities for creationists and climate change deniers to improperly influence the process.
The legislative session is now over and we’re happy to report that all of those bills died. The controversial theories bills gained no traction at all. The instructional materials bills did meet with some success in committees, but didn’t make it to the floor of either chamber. And we’re very encouraged to see that some lawmakers voiced our concerns about the potential impacts on science materials. That was awesome to see!
I’ve now updated our Issues Pages on these bills “Controversial Theories” Bills 2018 and Textbook Challenges Bill 2018. Despite the good news, I have to admit that the bills’ demise had little to do with our efforts to oppose them. Our voices are starting to be heard, but we’re just not loud enough. We need your help when these bills pop up again next year.
In other words, there is still plenty of work to be done.
Stay alert and stay active.