Do me a favor. Read this bill analysis for Florida House Bill 1483 (the deceptively-named â€œacademic freedomâ€ bill). See if you arrive to the same conclusion I have: Essentially, this analysis is calling this bill pure garbage. The screeching cry for â€œacademic freedomâ€ is clearly shown to be a farce by this document. If passed, the bill would destroy any semblance of clear, consistent, cohesive science education across the state. School administrators could find their hands tied, and students could wind up getting substandard education and flunking portions of the science FCAT. Here are just a few excerpts:
The bill, in effect, with regard only to biological or chemical evolution restricts the ability of the State Board of Education or the district school board to define and regulate curriculum content.
However, it is unclear how this provision will be executed if other â€œobjective and relevantâ€ curriculum, which is within the teacherâ€™s purview to determine, is inconsistent with the prescribed curriculum.
Finally, if a principal, the district school superintendent, or the school board determine that the information a teacher is presenting is not objective, relevant, or scientific, then the administration must prove its case prior to any action against a teacher. This may result in case-by-case determinations which, based on the propensities of the science teachers in the district, may prove frequent and challenging. This bill will affect costs of administering the science curriculum and, although indeterminate, may increase litigation expenses for the school district.
â€œCourse materialsâ€ may include any supplemental â€œscientific, relevant, objectiveâ€ information deemed appropriate by each, individual science teacher. Accordingly, the teacher could include in any student evaluation the content of such supplemental course materials. To the degree the supplemental course material contradicts the established science curriculum (as set forth in the SSS and established by the school district), the student is put in a tenuous situation.
The two bill analyses done on the Senate side were similar in tone. This bill is just a court case waiting to happen, and in the meantime students potentially suffer from a convoluted science education. Iâ€™m flabbergasted that the Senators who voted for this garbage had their bill analyses right there in front of them. Itâ€™s obvious they didnâ€™t bother to read that sound advice.
As you call or e-mail House representatives, tell them to do two things:
- Read the analysis very carefully
- Ask the billâ€™s presenter (Rep. Hays) to provide some examples of â€œscientificâ€ and â€œrelevantâ€ information that refutes evolution.
Donâ€™t let Hays off the hook like Senator Storms was. Arm the representatives with basic information about Kitzmiller vs. Dover in the event Hays brings up intelligent design. (Intelligent design was found to be devoid of science and based on religion in a federal court of law.) Feed the representatives information to counter Hays if he runs off at the mouth about â€œgaps in the fossil recordâ€ or â€œthere are no half rats and half bats.â€ Those are not valid â€œscientificâ€ and â€œrelevantâ€ arguments; rather, theyâ€™re tired old creationist talking points that were trashed years ago (examples here, here, and here).