Archive for the '“Critical Analysis” bills ’11' Category

Another paper opposes “theory of whatever” bill

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Florida Today has published an editorial opposing Sen. Wise’s “non-evolution” “theory of whatever” bill:

There he goes again. Sen. Wise used identical language in a previous bill that failed to become law. It’s almost pitiful, that this is what the deniers of evolution are reduced to. In this country, lawmakers have mandated teaching only the Biblical story of creation. The courts killed it. Then it was creationism. Dead. Intelligent design. Dead. So now it’s a “critical analysis.”

This state has big issues to face. It has budget problems measured in the billions. It has teachers rebelling against new ways of grading them and paying them. It has students who aren’t measuring up to their peers in the rest of the world. And we’re going to nitpick about evolution.

As innocuous as this small section of the bill seems, it should be removed. The injection of religion into a scientific theory — which obviously is what SB 1854 seeks to foster — has no place in the public school classroom. Period.

Fortunately, it looks like the bill isn’t moving forward during this legislative session. Paul Cottle says on his blog that the education committees are done, with no more meetings planned. However, I won’t relax until the legislative session is completely wrapped up. There is always a chance for amendments to be slipped into other bills.

Evolution newspaper story a confusing mess

Friday, April 8th, 2011

I’m feeling mighty confused by an article that recently appeared in Hernando Today (a Tampa Tribune paper): Educators: Bill that criticizes evolution won’t hurt students. Read the following excerpt and ponder what is being stated for a moment:

Dr. Stacey Thomson, chairwoman of the science department at Pasco-Hernando Community College, said adding evolutionary criticism, Intelligent Design or other non-evolution theories wouldn’t affect students’ performance.

By the time they reach post-secondary education and biology classes, she said many start from scratch learning the basics in 101 classes.

“These classes are very broad-based and whatever education they get in high school is not going to change their success or lack thereof,” Thomson said. “The problem we have is when students come from high school with no critical thinking skills, no math skills or no ethics. So if they can get students to start making decisions and use critical thinking skills, regardless of the focus, then all of that is probably a plus.”

Here is how I read it: nothing a student learns in high school will have any effect on what will be learned in college. The students are just going to start over again with the basics in 101 courses anyway. So, teach whatever you want in high school, to include unscientific, religious materials in science classes because it will foster critical thinking skills, hopefully.

Dr. Thomson, please tell me that is not what you intended. I understand your frustration with a possible lack of critical thinking skills in some new college students. But the solution isn’t to throw a bunch of unscientific garbage into the curriculum and let students debate it. I’m willing to bet I can find several college professors who will say that what students learn in high school does effect learning in college. I’ve been told by professors that they had to spend precious time un-teaching misconceptions and incorrect information. And there is a very real problem with students being forced to take remedial courses before they can even tackle the 101 material. Allowing intelligent design and bogus “critical analysis” will only compound these problems.

Also quoted in the story is Jeff Youngman, curriculum supervisor for Hernando County School District. His comments suggest that creationism isn’t part of the curriculum and shouldn’t be. Sometimes students might bring the topic up: “But science classes aren’t discussions on people’s opinions on things. It’s more a presentation of what theory is and what we know.” Youngman’s quotes don’t fit into the story’s headline or its lead paragraph that states: “Local education experts say a proposed bill that would require science teachers to critique evolution — and include some religious aspects — would do little to harm students’ learning of the topic or affect their performance in higher education.” Dr. Thomson is saying that, but Youngman clearly isn’t. Perhaps the reporter, Jeff Schmucker, didn’t quite understand the topic he was writing about; but even with that possibility in mind, his two sources are clearly not in agreement as his introduction would have readers believe.

Furthermore, the reporter says that Sen. Wise was interviewed recently on a Tampa radio station. I’m not aware of any such interview happening recently on radio. He talked to one newspaper reporter, and that’s the only interview he’s given on this subject this year I’m aware of. A Tampa radio interview did happen back in early 2009 concerning the bill he filed back then. It appears to me that the reporter rushed through the writing of this story.

In other words, this is a confusing story inside and out.

Sign the petition

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

In response to Senator Stephen Wise’s “non-evolution” “theory of whatever” bill (SB 1854, critical analysis of evolution in public schools), concerned citizen Eduardo Pazos of Miami Beach started an online petition. It’s off to a good start with 211 signatures so far. However, many signatures are from out of state folks. We need more people from Florida to sign on. Also, this petition site sends an e-mail to our target audience, the state legislature, every time someone signs.

When you sign the petition, I encourage you to use the “leave a comment” link that is right below the fields you fill out when you sign. The last time we used a petition, it wasn’t so much the number of people who signed, but rather the names of significant individuals and the comments people made when signing that made an impact. Spread the word!

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National news keeping eye on Florida

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

A couple of national news outlets are taking note of Senator Wise’s antievolution bill. They’re both just rewrites of Florida stories, but they are still worth logging in here on the blog. The Huffington Post has a story: “Florida State Lawmaker Takes Heat For Bill That Would Require Teaching Of ‘Non-Evolution’“. I’m very glad that the media is taking note of the whole “non-evolution” quote from Wise. It really shows just how full of hot air his proposal is. And Mother Jones has a short blurb: “Top Florida Lawmaker Resurrects Creationism Bill“. That’s another great headline, nailing Wise’s bill for its creationist roots. I’m loving it! The National Center for Science Education also has a media roundup, mentioning Florida articles that can also be found here on this blog.

Newspapers: Antievolution bill is bad idea

Friday, March 18th, 2011

The Orlando Sentinel has published an editorial opposing Sen. Wise’s “non-evolution” “theory of whatever”:

Among scientists, the idea of teaching “nonevolution” in public schools would be dismissed as nonsense. But in Tallahassee, just such a bill sponsored by Rep. Stephen Wise has its supporters. This is, after all, a state that only three years ago started officially referring to “evolution” instead of “biological change over time.”

It’s enough to make anyone who values science plenty nervous. Wise (gulp) also happens to be chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Wise reportedly asked, “Why do we still have apes if we came from them” — even though anthropologists and other scientists long ago proved man and apes share common ancestry. Wise would have our schools teach evolution and “nonevolution” — creationist-based theory — “at the same time.”

Florida has enough challenges getting its kids educated. It doesn’t need another one — this one — from Wise.

And a Florida Times-Union opinion blog also says the bill is a bad idea.

It’s a little more than disturbing that the legislator playing a key role in shaping Florida’s public education policy, Sen. Stephen Wise, is challenging how evolution is taught.

Besides being the Senate sponsor for the whack-the-teachers bill the Legislature just passed, Wise is behind legislation that would require that what he calls “non-evolution” also be taught in the classroom.

So how does Wise explain his disagreement with the theory of evolution?

In a 2009 radio interview, he put it this way: “Why do we still have apes if we came from them?”

Enough said.

Antievolution bill referred to senate committees

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Senator Stephen Wise’s “non-evolution” “theory of whatever” bill (SB 1854, critical analysis of evolution in public schools) was referred to two senate committees today: Education Pre-K -12, and Budget. The chair of the education committee is none other than Sen. Wise himself. He also is a member of the Budget committee, along with Sen. Hays. Hays was in the House in 2008 and sponsored an antievolution bill back then. Now we have to wait and see if the bill gets on the committees’ schedules.

Evolution “caught in the act!” Quick, notify Senator Wise!

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Florida citizens: You have a mission! Senator Wise is very busy, and so he may not be aware of some rebellious researchers lurking in Gainesville. These lab-coat wearing troublemakers are stomping all over Sen. Wise’s turf. They are daring to (gasp) conduct research on (gulp) EVOLUTION! We need to let the Senator know right away!

How do I know Sen. Wise is busy? The Florida Times-Union published a story about the antievolution bill introduced into our state senate. The sponsor, Sen. Wise, doesn’t have time to talk to the media about his bill:

Wise, who did not return numerous calls from the Times-Union over two days for this story, told a newspaper last week that his bill is merely intended to allow freedom in Florida classrooms.

“Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?” Wise told the Tampa Tribune. He called the other theory “non-evolution.”

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Florida are learning new and interesting things about the evolution of plants: Flowering plant study ‘catches evolution in the act’.

A new University of Florida study shows when two flowering plants are crossed to produce a new hybrid, the new species’ genes are reset, allowing for greater genetic variation.

Researchers say the study, to be published March 17 in Current Biology, could lead to a better understanding of how to best grow more stable and higher yielding agricultural crops.

“We caught evolution in the act,” said Doug Soltis, a distinguished professor in UF’s biology department and study co-author. “New and diverse patterns of gene expression may allow the new species to rapidly adapt in new environments.”

So, research based on evolution is happening right here in Senator Wise’s state! Oh no! Does he know this? He needs to amend his bill to mandate critical analysis of these researchers’ important and potentially useful findings right away. Where is all the research going on involving “non-evolution?” We need to have balance and fairness, after all! I think everyone needs to fax, e-mail and mail this article to Wise in order to alert him to this nefarious plot going on right under his nose!


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Florida Academy of Sciences opposes Wise’s bill

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

The Florida Academy of Sciences has issued a position statement opposing Senator Stephen Wise’s antievolution bill. A pdf of their position statement is here. Some excerpts from the Florida Academy of Sciences’ statement:

SB 1854, in effect, leaves the door open for the introduction in the public school curriculum of nonscientific and covertly religious doctrines. The proposed bill would be damaging to the quality of science education of Florida’s children and the scientific literacy of our citizens. It would further undermine the reputation of our state and adversely affect our economic future as we try to attract new high tech and biomedical jobs to Florida.

Therefore the Florida Academy of Sciences opposes Florida Senate Bill 1854 in the strongest terms possible. We urge the Senate to reject this proposed legislation.

For background, our previous news release about Florida Citizen’s for Science’s position is here.