Archive for August, 2013

Evolution lawsuit in Palm Beach County

Monday, August 12th, 2013

There is an article today in the Sun Sentinel that starts out with this paragraph:

The Palm Beach County School Board is battling claims it fails to teach evolution and so-called truths about religions, charges hurled in a lawsuit from two students and their rabbi/attorney/father.

Unfortunately, the article is considered “premium content” at the newspaper’s site, which means access to it is limited. So, I’ll summarize it as best as I can. A lawsuit was filed against the Palm Beach County School Board two years ago. It was initially a complaint about relaxed rules for adopting textbooks, which the plaintiffs felt would be an open invitation to “increasing the danger of extremist and religious ideologies spreading into classrooms.” The lawsuit was dismissed multiple times.

Since then, the original plaintiffs are no longer involved in the case but their lawyer is. Barry Silver has replaced those plaintiff with his own student sons. And the lawsuit has morphed into a more general complaint that evolution is not being properly taught and that anytime religion is brought up in the classroom, in the context of terrorist attacks, it’s portrayed as always being peaceful and never bad.

The lawsuit is on hold right now by order of the judge as Silver and the School Board work out a possible compromise settlement.

Silver’s main complaint about evolution is:

The Silvers also challenged a fifth-grade science textbook, which cites adaptation and the effect of environmental changes on organisms, “yet never mentions Charles Darwin, evolution or natural selection.”

“Such a grave oversight,” the suit states, “would be akin to discussing the founding of the United States without mentioning the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, or discussing the most popular sports in America, without using the words “baseball,” “football” or “basketball.”

Stay tuned.

All sorts of interesting news today

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Science standards, opposition to evolution in Kentucky, Florida’s uncertain science standards future, and Bennett’s resignation. All wrapped up in one brief story. Gotta love it.

In Florida, where state officials have previously signaled strong interest in adopting the standards (though it’s not a lead state), the verdict is out. For one, last month, the vice chairman of the state board of education seemed to signal his skepticism with the common science standards, citing a recent review by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and argued that the state should look elsewhere for guidance.

Back to Florida, one other matter that could complicate things is the political bombshell that dropped today when state Commissioner Tony Bennett announced his resignation. The action comes following a series of news stories about steps Bennett took while Indiana’s K-12 chief last year to boost the grade of a charter school run by a political donor by tweaking the state’s A-F accountability system.

And here is a full article about Bennett’s resignation: Florida education chief Tony Bennett resigns.

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett resigned Thursday morning, three days after news broke alleging that he changed the grade of a donor’s charter school while Indiana’s education chief.