We're out there ...

We're on Twitter. Follow us at @flascience.

We're on Facebook, too. Join our Florida Citizens for Science group there.

Site Navigation

Science Education
How to join
About Us
Projects & Events
Our Blog
:: Return home  
Projects and Events
Get active in your local area and your state

Evolution in the Science Standards

Table of contents
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

Part 3: Trouble from the North

Meanwhile, in the northern reaches of the state, other school boards did take action. It started in January when Taylor County Superintendent Oscar Howard mentioned at one of the standard's public hearings that his and several other counties were sending official resolutions to the state Board of Education encouraging them to either de-emphasize evolution or allow alternatives to be taught. [January 8, 2008 Florida Times-Union story.] Howard claimed that hundreds of parents threatened to pull their kids out of public schools if the standards were accepted in their current form.

Many of the county school boards tried not to make a public fuss over their resolutions, with some only being publicized after FCS researched in the local weekly newspapers and board meeting archives. At least 12 counties are known to have passed the resolutions: Clay, Jackson, Baker, Hamilton, Holmes, St. Johns, Taylor, Madison, Lafayette, Nassau, Washington, and Bay [source]. The majority of these counties were in the northern and panhandle areas of the state, and many of their resolutions are nearly identical. They chaffed at evolution being referred to as established fact, such as in this Baker County resolution approved 5-0:

Now therefore, be it resolved by the Baker County School Board of Baker County, Macclenny, Florida, that the Board urges the State Board of Education to direct the Florida Department of Education to revise the new Sunshine State Standards for Science such that evolution is not presented as fact. [source]

The similarity in the counties' resolutions led to the conjecture that there was a single driving force behind them. Adding to the suspicions was that the then president-elect of the Florida School Board Association, Beverly Slough, was a prominent supporter of the resolutions. Despite these observations, no definitive link was ever discovered.

Another product of north Florida was a small group of women who, despite their playing up a "we're just concerned moms" demeanor, obviously knew how to work the political labyrinth and were well connected. Kim Kendall, a former air traffic controller but now stay-at-home mom from Jacksonville, was able to get quoted quite a bit in the newspapers. She secured spots at several public hearings and forums, and, with the help of a state senator, tried to crash a December state Board of Education meeting despite the science standards not being on the agenda. [December 6, 2007 Florida Times-Union story.] She was turned away; but rather than accept defeat, she parlayed it into news coverage and leverage for a final, exciting gambit to come later.

Story by Brandon Haught

[ Back to Part 2 / Forward to Part 4 ]
  :: Contact us at: bhaught@flascience.org
  :: Our links page
Be sure to visit our blog for regular updates on news, events and alerts.