Archive for the 'Instructional Materials bills ’17' Category

David against the state’s Goliath

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Florida’s new Instructional Materials law is now featured in an article in the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) Explorer: Science Curricula Under Threat?

The problem, according to those who think there is one, is in the first sentence of Florida House Bill 989.

“…allowing a resident of a county to challenge the use or adoption of instructional materials …”

This bill – and Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law – will allow any adult, in any school district, even if he or she doesn’t have a child attending school in district – or, for that matter, any school district in the state – to lodge a complaint over the teaching methods or materials in Florida’s public schools.

And while it could potentially pertain to any subject – Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” for instance, has been called pornographic by some Florida parents who want it removed from public school curricula – the intent, critics contend, has to do with curtailing scientific inquiry, namely with regard to evolution and global climate change.

Sponsored by the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, whose website construes the fight in nothing less than biblical proportions, casting itself as David against the state’s Goliath, the organization purports to “advance a rebirth of liberty in Florida” and claims the bill is simply about choice and academic freedom.

Not all agree.

Jonathan P. Smith, president of Florida Citizens for Science, an advocacy group opposed to the measure, said HB 989 has ominous implications for education in the state.

“This bill will allow anyone – and I mean anyone – to object for any reason to current text books used in the state,” he said.

Make sure to go read the whole thing.

Dixie County’s “inappropriate subject matter” book ban

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

On the Gulf Coast of Florida, west of Gainesville, is Dixie County, which recently attracted attention from the National Coalition Against Censorship. According to the NCAC, the school district’s superintendent, Mike Thomas, issued a directive “which prohibits the school district from purchasing and/or using ‘instructional materials (textbooks, library books, classroom novels, etc.)’ that ‘contain any profanity, cursing, or inappropriate subject matter …’

The NCAC notes:

Excluding material because it may be subjectively considered “inappropriate” and “questionable” potentially affects a wide range of materials that address race, gender, religion, sex, political violence, history, science, politics, the environment, or any other issue on which people may disagree.

Of course, the subjects I perk up at are “science” and “the environment.” I’m not aware of science materials being directly targeted in Dixie County, but I also don’t know much about what’s going on there as information about this issue is scarce on the Internet. However, I am concerned when I see in the NCAC letter that the superintendent tells teachers to make instructional materials choices based on “community standards.” NCAC says:

The vague notion of “community standards” offers educators no clear guidance and impermissibly imposes the viewpoints of some community members on every student in the District.

Why am I concerned? Because the argument for matching textbooks with local community standards was used by proponents of Florida’s new instructional materials law. (See our Instructional Materials bills ’17 blog category for more on the law.) Can you imagine the argument that “we didn’t come from no monkey” being used as a community standard to ditch certain science materials? I can.

The president of the Florida Library Association is also concerned:

School officials are bound by constitutional considerations, including a duty not to discriminate against unpopular or controversial ideas. The U.S. Supreme Court has cautioned that, ‘Local school boards may not remove books from library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books …’ Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982).

Wow, quite a week: Florida Citizens for Science in Nature and Science Friday!

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Do you listen to Science Friday? Even if you don’t, can I convince you to tune at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Sept 1)? Because that’s when I’ll be on the show! Yes, that’s right, your Florida Citizens for Science communications director will be chatting with Ira Flatow about science education, our state’s new instructional materials law, activism and whatever else comes up. I’ve been paired up with another guest for the segment: Julie Palakovich Carr, who works at the American Institute of Biological Sciences and is a scientist who is making her voice heard in politics. I can’t wait!

But wait … there’s more. I was invited to write a piece for the prestigious science journal Nature. My World Views column was just published: Keep on marching for science education.

Scientists might have made a difference, had they protested against laws that now threaten what can be taught in our classrooms, argues Brandon Haught.

The response so far to it has been awesome!

If any of this incredible national exposure motivates you into wanting a piece of the action, we have a long wish list of things we would love to see get done. We just need the people who are willing to donate some valuable time and energy to making things happen. Our determined opposition isn’t resting. They are tirelessly working to push their ideological agenda and the only way to counter it is to be even more resolute and active. Contact us and we’ll plug you into a network of others willing to make a stand for quality science education. Let’s make a difference!

The Heartland Institute, Truth in Textbooks, and Time magazine are interested in Florida

Monday, August 28th, 2017

The interest in Florida’s new textbook law might have faded into the background lately but today it’s jumped back into the spotlight with a vengeance. The Heartland Institute, the purveyor of climate change denial nonsense, is definitely aware of what’s going on here in the Sunshine State as is an organization called Truth in Textbooks. And Time magazine published a story online today about the new law.

I’ll start briefly with the Heartland Institute. The originator of the textbook law, the Florida Citizens Alliance, is likely now cozy friends with Heartland. I stumbled across this web page at the Institute’s publications and resources section of their website. They added to their collection the Alliances’s bogus list chock full of complaints about textbooks used in Florida. For instance:

Unacceptable curricular examples included the glorification of teen sex and distorted accounts of America’s founding. One sixth grade history textbook explicitly stated children are descended from apes, and another declared anyone can qualify as an American citizen simply by wanting to be one.

So, we definitely want to be on the lookout for any future teamwork from Heartland and the Alliance. Keep in mind that Heartland has deep pockets.

The Alliance was also prominently featured in an article published at Time magazine’s website: Florida’s Textbooks Are a New Battleground in America’s Fight Over Facts. I spoke with the reporter quite a bit and so did someone from the National Center for Science Education and yet neither one of us are mentioned in the article at all, which is deeply disappointing, especially since the Alliance wound up being the centerpiece of the story. However, despite that omission I thought the story was good. It revealed yet a little bit more about the Alliance’s activities and players.

Mike Mogil doesn’t believe climate change is caused by humans. The 72-year old former National Weather Service meteorologist says global temperatures have been fluctuating for millennia, and recent extremes could very well have nothing to do with mankind. Now, he wants to make sure Florida’s public school students get the same perspective.

To Mogil, who is a member of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, the conservative group that helped write the bill, “objective” means that any textbook including climate change information should leave open the possibility that humans are not at fault, even though that goes against the overwhelming scientific consensus that global temperatures are rising and carbon emissions by humans are to blame. “You shouldn’t start off with a political agenda from either side,” he says. “We’re all taxpayers in one form or another, and I would like to have a say in how that money is being spent.”

We here at Florida Citizens for Science didn’t get a voice in the story, but others on our side did.

“This could be really misused by a lot of people to the detriment of the job of educating our kids,” says Richard Grosso, a Florida attorney and Nova Southeastern University law professor who believes the new law is unnecessary. He is concerned that already-underfunded districts will have to spend time and money hearing textbook challenges even if they’re “completely frivolous.”

Have you heard of Truth in Textbooks? The Alliance has …

In the meantime, the Florida Citizens’ Alliance urged its 20,000 supporters to become “textbook reviewers” by taking a three-month, mostly online training course run by Truth in Textbooks, a Texas-based conservative group that encourages its volunteers to oppose what it calls a “pro-Islam/anti-Christian” bias in history books. The Truth in Textbooks course doesn’t officially give participants a leg up in textbook objections, but the Florida Citizens’ Alliance hopes the training will add credibility to members’ challenges to school boards this fall.

Truth in Textbooks, which started in Texas and is expanding nationwide, now has their fingers firmly in Florida and we’ll undoubtedly be hearing from them and their trainees quite often in the near future.

And the Time story ends with this interesting tidbit:

Mogil, the former meteorologist, spent the summer teaching about weather and sharing his views on climate change with about 30 middle and high school students at a summer camp he runs in Naples, Fla. He hopes that by offering a different view than what the kids learn in school, and by challenging textbooks under Florida’s new law, he will teach students to be skeptical, like him, of widely accepted knowledge.

Are any of you reading this in the Naples area? Can I talk you into finding out more about this summer camp?

Lots of news

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

There’s all sorts of interesting news items related to science education lately! I’ll list them here by general topic …

Instructional Materials Law

From the Gainesville Sun
Carl Ramey: State continues assault on public schools

Equally problematic are the amendments enacted this year to Florida’s education code; specifically, the section that permits challenges to “instructional materials” used by public schools. Previously, challenges were limited to parents with children in the school district. Now, any resident of the county with an axe to grind can challenge the appropriateness of anything (textbooks, videos, software, etc.) having “intellectual content” and used as a “major tool” for instruction.

In short, a limited, parent-centric complaint procedure has been turned into an open-ended, highly accessible platform for sectarian pressure groups — more interested in advancing a particular belief than how certain material might impact a particular child. It opens up the possibility of coordinated campaigns by groups seeking to ban material deemed objectionable on religious or political grounds (such as evolution and global warming).

From the journal Bioscience, published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences
Evolution Education and State Politics

A bill passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Scott makes it easier to remove evolution education or any other “controversial” subject from a district’s curriculum. Any taxpayer who lives in the school district can file a complaint to the school board and will have the opportunity to argue why instructional materials are not “objective, balanced, noninflammatory, current,” or “free of pornography.”

Although Florida House Bill 989 did not specifically mention evolution, advocates cited the testimony of some supporters as evidence of the bill’s intentions. Some advocates for the measure wrote, “I have witnessed students being taught evolution as a fact of creation rather than a theory,” and “I have witnessed children being taught that global warming is a reality.”

From New Scientist
Feedback: Florida turns to crowdsourcing science classes

The US has long been pioneering efforts to rejoin church and state. A recent innovation is found in Florida, where state governor Rick Scott signed into law legislation allowing any resident to challenge educational material used in public schools. Passed under the auspices of empowering parents, critics warn that the bill will allow people to target the teaching of evolution and climate change in classrooms.

Feedback can only assume that the Sunshine State’s mathematics professors will soon have to find a way to make pi equal 3, sex educators teach the controversy over stork deliveries, and rockets blasting off from Cape Canaveral recalibrate for a geocentric model of the cosmos.

From the Daytona Beach News-Journal
Textbook case: New law lets public challenge school materials

“Our concern is that school boards across the state will be forced to give a lot of time and effort and perhaps even some finances to field complaints from citizens that don’t know a lot about science themselves,” he said.

Though his area of expertise is science, Haught expressed disappointment that educators in other disciplines haven’t spoken out against the law.

“Where are the history folks?” he asked. “Where are the civics defenders?”

From NPR’s Morning Edition
New Florida Law Lets Residents Challenge School Textbooks

Members of Florida Citizens’ Alliance have other concerns, including how some textbooks discuss Islam. Others take issue with science textbooks and how they deal with two topics in particular: evolution and climate change.

Flaugh says the law, which was signed by the governor on June 26, is intended to make sure scientific theories are presented in a balanced way.

“There will be people out there that argue that creationism versus Darwinism are facts. They’re both theories,” he says.

From the Washington Post
Florida’s education system — the one Betsy DeVos cites as a model — is in chaos

Gov. Scott also recently signed a new law that has alarmed people who care about science education. Known as H.B. 989 and targeted at the teaching of climate change and evolution, it empowers those who want to object to the use of specific instructional materials in public schools. Now, any resident can file a complaint about instructional material; it used to be limited to parents with a child in the schools.

Recruiting Teachers

From the Orlando Sentinel
Commentary: School districts tasked with filling math, science teacher shortage

The numbers of first-time test-takers for high-school teaching certifications in biology, chemistry and Earth/space science stayed constant or declined a bit during the same three-year period. In physics, that number dropped by one-third.

The Colleges of Education at the state’s universities aren’t even coming close to meeting the demand. According to an estimate in the Critical Teacher Shortage Area report for 2017-18 prepared by the Florida Department of Education, there were 214 vacancies for chemistry and physics teachers in Florida’s public schools in 2016-17.

From the Sun Sentinel
South Florida schools search for new ways to find teachers

Palm Beach County schools are also considering some less obvious candidates: athletes.

The school district has been attending job fairs that colleges host for student athletes. Their dreams may be to play in the NFL or NBA, but until that happens, they may want to teach in Palm Beach County, La Cava said.

“A lot of them have degrees in math and science and we can help them get certified,” La Cava said. “There are opportunities for them to teach and be coaches.”

Good News about Science Education

From the Panama City News Herald
Rockettes and CSI: FSU PC camps foster love of physics

Across a walkway in the Holley Center, Sonya Livingston Smith, a retired Rockette, and Denise Newsome, a teacher at Deane Bozeman School, were working to convincingly disguise a physics lesson as a dance class. While dancers practiced their turns and pliés, Newsome used motion sensors to track how their arm motions increased or decreased the velocity of their spins.

“It’s a great way to help the students not be scared of physics,” said Newsome, who describes herself as a science nerd with a dancing background.

This is the first year FSU PC has held a Physics of Dance camp, and Newsome hopes to grow the two-day offering into a full week in the future.

And let’s not forget we here at Florida Citizens for Science are running a fundraising campaign to help teachers obtain needed science supplies.
4th Annual science education fundraiser LAUNCH!

FCS launched its 4th annual fundraising campaign today by creating a Giving Page at Donors Choose. On that page you can choose from several projects across the state to help fund. FCS will match dollar for dollar total donations up to $700, essentially doubling your gift. This is on top of similar offers from corporations like Orkin and Tom’s of Maine highlighted on some of our chosen projects’ pages.

A few donations have come in these first few days of the campaign, which is awesome! But we need a lot more if we hope to get all of the selected classroom projects funded before students start walking in the classroom doors. Please help us out.

If the above items sound familiar to you, then it’s probably because you follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We’re posting the newest news items there nearly every day. It’s well worth liking and following us!


This is not “needless fretting”

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

An editorial was published in a few papers recently, including the Gainesville Sun, opining that Florida’s new instructional materials law isn’t something to get all worked up about: Needless fretting over textbook law.

The doomsdayers among us believe Scott and the measure’s supporters have thrust open an educational Pandora’s box, exposing school districts to the “anti-science” whims of flat-earthers and climate-change deniers.

To them we reply: Deep breaths, folks, deep breaths.

There are some elements of the editorial I agree with. I agree that this law won’t wipe science subjects like evolution and climate change out of the state’s public schools. I agree that a lot of the news coverage, especially the headlines attached to the stories, are overblown and sensationalist. I believe trouble will likely only pop up in a few spots around the state where small yet vocal groups are already causing headaches.

But I disagree with the overall tone of the editorial, which is essentially saying don’t worry, this is no big deal.

This law probably isn’t a big deal when you look at it from a statewide perspective. But it’s a huge deal when you look at it from the local school district perspective. Even if only one school district decides to allow anti-science instructional materials into their school (due to a sympathetic school board majority or relentless pressure that eventually forces a school board into compromise), that’s going to potentially impact the education of hundreds or thousands of students for years. This is not just alarmist hype. I wrote the book on this topic. It’s happened before here in the Sunshine State and the chances of it happening again are now very high with the passage into law of the instructional materials bill and the religious liberties in schools bill.

Keep in mind that the group mentioned in the editorial, the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, took credit for writing the bill. They took credit for recruiting legislators to sponsor the bill. They took credit for helping to successfully navigate the bill through all of its committee stops and votes. They took credit for helping it become law.

Why in the world would they go through all of that effort?

The law’s authors and supporters said:

“Darwin’s theory is a theory, and the biblical view is a theory, and our kids should be taught both in a balanced way,” [Florida Citizens’ Alliance’s Keith Flaugh] said.

And that goal was repeated:

“The science here is not proven on either side,” Flaugh said. “There are lots of scientists on both sides of that equation: Creationism versus the theory of evolution. They’re both theories. And all we’re asking for is both sides of the discussion in a balanced way be put in front of the students.”

And it was repeated yet again:

“We’re not trying to ban books,” said Keith Flaugh, founder of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, which pushed for that state’s bill.

He said his group is seeking balance in school instruction, including teaching both evolution and creationism and the various arguments about climate change.

Those quotes lead me to the next point I want to make. The editorial questions why nearly every news story focuses primarily on science education.

The whole reason why the media is fixated on the science aspect of this law is because we here at Florida Citizens for Science — who specialize in science education, of course — were vigilant and aggressive. We brought the pitfalls of this law to the media’s attention and we made it incredibly easy for them to report on it, having done most of their work for them.

I’ve lamented to a few reporters that no one has stepped up to defend the other academic subjects under attack. There apparently is no Citizens for Civics organization out there, for instance. And many reporters should shoulder some blame for not bothering to do their own digging and questioning about those other academic subjects. The Alliance is much more focused on civics and history and religion than they are on science.

But science became the media’s focal point because evolution and climate change lessons in schools are hot button topics and we constantly monitor those topics and immediately take action, such as alerting the media, when problems pop up. Florida Citizens for Science would likely have never been involved in this fight if the Alliance hadn’t included science topics in their long list of “objectionable materials.”

Whereas I agree that many news stories have gotten some facts wrong and over hyped the impact of the instructional materials law, I disagree that we’re engaging in “needless fretting.” I appreciate that the news coverage has highlighted this issue because now citizen science advocates across the state are aware of the laws and are ready to act if needed. We’ve been flooded with correspondence, membership requests, and social media followers.

And the interest has led to yet more calls from reporters (I know that a few more stories are currently in the works). I make sure to emphasize to those reporters the facts of this issue, not the hype. We want reality-based awareness of this issue, not the-sky-is-falling screaming.

This is not “needless fretting.” This is citizen activism provoked by very real attacks on science education.

U.S. Senator from Florida blasts instructional materials law

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Bill_NelsonU.S. Senator from Florida Bill Nelson seized upon all of the press generated by his state’s new instructional materials law to stand up for science on Monday and accuse Gov. Rick Scott of being anti-science: In Senate floor speech, Bill Nelson takes aim at Rick Scott and GOP’s ‘war on science’

Nelson took aim at a bill sponsored by Naples House Republican Bryon Donald that will allow anyone in the state to challenge and possibly change what kids are learning in public schools. The senator said he feared that could chill discussion on climate change in Florida schools.

“Sea-level rise in South Florida is a fact,” he began.

Unfortunately, Nelson makes a mistake here:

“But if there are some who object to that climate science, then, under this new law just signed by the governor, they are going to be able to object to that subject being taught in our public schools and a single hearing officer will determine — a single hearing officer – will determine — lord only knows who that officer is appointed by — that single person will determine under the new law if the objection is justified and they can force a local public school to remove the subject from its curriculum.”

He’s right to be worried about who that hearing officer could be. But the hearing officer doesn’t make any final decisions. He or she only makes a recommendation to the school board, which makes the final decision. Read the final version of the law here (pdf file). Also, it’s unlikely that this law will be used to remove subjects from the curriculum. The curriculum is mainly driven by the state science standards. Instead, school boards could alter what’s in instructional materials, such as textbooks, online materials, workbooks, etc. In other words, evolution and climate change won’t be erased. Rather, those subjects might be watered down or “balanced” with other unscientific ideas (intelligent design or climate change denial arguments).

For instance, the law’s authors and supporters said:

“Darwin’s theory is a theory, and the biblical view is a theory, and our kids should be taught both in a balanced way,” [Florida Citizens’ Alliance’s Keith Flaugh] said.

And that goal was repeated:

“The science here is not proven on either side,” Flaugh said. “There are lots of scientists on both sides of that equation: Creationism versus the theory of evolution. They’re both theories. And all we’re asking for is both sides of the discussion in a balanced way be put in front of the students.”

And it was repeated yet again:

“We’re not trying to ban books,” said Keith Flaugh, founder of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, which pushed for that state’s bill.

He said his group is seeking balance in school instruction, including teaching both evolution and creationism and the various arguments about climate change.

Despite Sen. Nelson’s error, we appreciate that he is aware of the law and its potential negative impact on science education. Thank you, sir.

Truth in Textbooks?

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

TextbooksBefore I do a news roundup of all the articles published about the horrible new Florida instructional materials law, it’s important to note that this issue will only get more heated throughout the year. The Department of Education will soon launch its science instructional materials review and selection process. I encourage you to read the materials currently posted at the DoE instructional materials website. The website currently announces that the “Reviewer portal is now closed for the 2016-17 state adoption.” But that was for last year’s social studies materials review. The portal will eventually reopen when the science materials review kicks off. If you open the pdf document there “2017-18 Instructional Materials Adoption Announcement” you’ll see that the final deadline for publishers to submit materials is:

Publishers must provide FDOE with access to sample copies of the major tool, which includes the Student Edition and the Teacher Edition, in an electronic or digital format, no later than 5 p.m., EDT, Friday, July 14, 2017.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any documents on the site that outline the review schedule, such as when guest reviewer applications will be accepted. If you find the information, please let us know. In the meantime, we need to constantly monitor that website and any announcements issued by the DoE.

The group that wrote and promoted the bad instructional materials law, the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, is getting ready. Their latest post asks for folks to take a survey and then sign up for training in reviewing textbooks hosted by an organization called Truth in Textbooks. The Truth’s website is apparently down (I tried to access it several times July 18 and kept getting error messages). But the group made a name for itself when it was known as Truth in Texas Textbooks. Here’s a story about them from back in 2014: A New Conservative Watchdog’s Big Textbook War Debut.

The group’s comments on each text are posted online as Word documents, plus a 52-page summary of their findings. They include grammar fixes and corrected dates, but dwell mostly on the usual questions of patriotism, religion, global warming and evolution—all the usual battlegrounds the State Board of Education is known for.
The Texas Freedom Network’s review of the new group’s reviews called its complaints “peculiar” and questioned whether the group’s reviewers were qualified for the job. A note on one Truth in Texas Textbooks’ review, TFN notes, suggests including information on Young Earth Creationism sourced to

In other words, we need to be ready. We here at Florida Citizens for Science recently had an informal board meeting, spending three hours discussing a wide range of current event topics. We’re in the process of contacting the DoE to try to pry more detailed information out of them about their instructional materials review and selection process. We’re networking with individuals and groups all across the state with the goal of establishing activists in every county to monitor and participate in local textbook selection efforts. If you want to join in our efforts, please contact us ASAP. Don’t wait!

Now let’s move on to the news roundup. First is a link to the interview I did on radio station WGCU’s radio show Gulf Coast Live: Naples Rep’s New Law Lets Any Resident Challenge Classroom Materials. The main guest was the instructional materials law sponsor in the state House, Rep. Byron Donalds. I was the other guest, but I was on the phone instead of in the studio with Donalds and the show host. That resulted in my not getting much speaking time. I actually think the host forgot I was a guest for a while. In my opinion, the host could have done a much better job of including me. For instance, she asked Donalds to explain how the new law would work if someone came forward with a complaint about how Cuba is portrayed in some material. That was puzzling. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to use a science-related example so that I could then be part of the conversation? The rare couple of times I got to speak I think I made the most of. However, the host’s question to me about how people incorrectly use the scientific meaning of the word “theory” was completely out of context from the ongoing conversation. It was as if maybe her producer reminded her that I was on the phone and she just picked a random question that her producer had prepared for her ahead of time. It was a frustrating experience but still worth the time getting Donalds’ thoughts on the record.

The Florida Keys News published a story: New law allows anyone to question what’s taught in school.

Florida Keys Schools Superintendent Mark Porter said he doesn’t expect any flurry of activity in response to the new law but said the district will have to develop a new policy to match the new law. As for who the hearing officer should be, Porter said that is up to interpretation.

“We have a very thorough process for the adoption of materials, that’s what really makes the most sense,” Porter said. “This opens up the opportunity for after adoption for materials to be evaluated.”

Since he was hired in 2012, Porter said he hasn’t had a phone call questioning such materials on science or any other subject.

Reconsidering textbooks once they’ve been purchased could lead to costly changes, Porter said.

The Humanist interviewed our very own Florida Citizens for Science president Jonathan Smith: Classroom Politics: Florida’s New Law on Education.

Florida’s dystopian turn is a worrisome reality for local and national science advocacy groups that have been fighting for proper science education for years. Florida Citizens for Science (FCS) President Jonathan Smith lamented the law in an email response to me: “This has the potential to undermine all the work we have done in the last eight years and again impose a minority’s religious convictions on the rest of us.”

The Tampa Bay Times has an editorial: Florida’s micromanaging of public schools.

Think of the mayhem this could create. Don’t believe in evolution? Challenge the science teacher. Don’t believe high schoolers should learn about sex education? Challenge the health teacher. Don’t believe the Holocaust actually happened? Challenge the history teacher. Don’t like the language in The Catcher in the Rye? Challenge the American lit teacher.
For a state that has gone to great lengths to ensure that teachers are held accountable and curriculum adheres strictly to Florida’s testing standards, how on Earth does it make sense to permit anyone with time on their hands and an ax to grind to throw a classroom into chaos?

And our final news item for now is from The Ledger: Polk schools expect easy transition to new state process for challenging instructional materials.

School Board member Billy Townsend said there might not be any impact at all. “Like so much of what came out of this legislative session, it’s a horribly vague and unhelpful piece of legislation… and I’m not sure what kind of problem it’s trying to solve,” Townsend said. “Looking at the entire legislative package that was sent out, it’s one big statement of bad intent and how that bad intent manifests itself on the ground in reality — we don’t know yet.”
“Sometimes it’s a double-headed coin: Some may say they don’t like the materials you’re currently using and want you to use materials that most people in the community are not in favor of,” [School Board member Lynn] Wilson said. “We’ll just have to see.”