Press Release: Balancing Evolution & Creationism in Schools Unconstitutional

Florida Citizens for Science News Release (May 13, 2018)
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BALANCING EVOLUTION AND CREATIONISM IN SCHOOLS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Attempts to alter science textbooks in Collier, Martin and Nassau Counties are a waste of school boards’ time, money and could lead to costly lawsuits
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Contact: Brandon Haught / bhaught@flascience.org / www.flascience.org

Citizens in Collier and Martin Counties are asking that creationism get equal time with evolution in textbooks under consideration for adoption by their school districts. Florida Citizens for Science states that this is a foolish waste of the school boards’ time and taxpayers’ money, caused by a bad instructional materials law passed in 2017 that requires school districts to hold official hearings for any citizen who files a formal complaint. The U.S. Supreme Court and several federal courts over the years ruled that balancing evolution with any form of creationism is unconstitutional.

At the May 8 Collier County school board meeting, five people protested many proposed science textbooks during public comment time. They complained that evolution and anthropogenic climate change weren’t balanced with other views. One of the people leading the effort, Keith Flaugh, stated at the meeting: “Before you vote to adopt these science textbooks tonight that completely ignore the concepts of creationism and that champion the indoctrination of controversial man-made warming: how are you again going to vote?” He has also been quoted in the media several times about creationism in public schools, such as when he told PBS’s Frontline: “Darwin’s theory is a theory, and the biblical view is a theory, and our kids should be taught both in a balanced way.” The protesters stated they will be filing formal complaints. This will will trigger a hearing before an appointed hearing officer, as now required by Florida law, in mid-June.

The Collier County protesters’ complaints rely heavily on Florida state statute 1006.31, which, in part, states: “Instructional materials recommended by each reviewer shall be, to the satisfaction of each reviewer, accurate, objective, balanced, noninflammatory, current, free of pornography …” They emphasize the “objective, balanced” phrase. But they ignore the “accurate” part. The scientific consensus on evolution and anthropogenic climate change is unequivocally supportive of the topics’ accuracy. There are no other accepted scientific views that would offer a so-called balance. There are only religious views, which, as mentioned earlier, are unconstitutional to be mandated as balance in public school science classrooms.

The Martin County School District held an official instructional materials hearing before an appointed hearing officer May 9 after five citizens filed complaints about evolution being presented in proposed science textbooks without some type of “balance.” The results of the hearing will be presented to the school board at a later date.

Yet another school district faced a challenge to evolution in textbooks in December. Nassau County heard from a citizen who asked that a disclaimer sticker be placed in all textbooks that mention evolution. Even though school officials were sympathetic to the man’s point of view, they wisely turned him down on legal grounds.

Florida Citizens for Science encourages the Collier and Martin school boards – and any others that face science textbook challenges – to also see the wisdom of avoiding guaranteed court loses.

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Florida Citizens for Science is a 501c3 nonprofit, statewide organization founded in 2006 to support and defend quality science education in the Sunshine State.

Brandon Haught is a Florida public high school science teacher who teaches both evolution and climate change. He is a founding board member of Florida Citizens for Science and author of the book Going Ape: Florida’s Battles over Evolution in the Classroom published by the University Press of Florida.

Court Cases:
1987, Edwards v. Aguillard, U.S. Supreme Court
1982, McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, federal court
2005, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover, federal court

Keith Flaugh quote:
PBS Frontline, A New Wave of Bills Takes Aim at Science in the Classroom, May 8, 2017

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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