Archive for December, 2015

NCSE takes note of Sunshine State bills

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

The National Center for Science Education has taken note of the instructional materials bills filed in the Florida legislature. Their analysis is thorough, taking note of the many problems the bills have. For instance:

“A further provision of the bills is also of concern. Currently, instructional materials used in Florida’s schools must be consistent with the state science standards. HB 899 and SB 1018 would allow that instructional materials may be alternatively be consistent with ‘standards that are equivalent to or better than the applicable state standards.’ No criteria for assessing the relative quality of standards are provided.”

And they found something I had missed: complaints that “an American history textbook that it is ‘permeate[d]’ by ‘discussion of climate change.'”

Tracking Textbook bills

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

We will use this post to try and keep track of two bills in our state legislature that could change textbook adoption and review procedures. See our previous post for a summary of why these bills are of concern.

Senate Bill
SB 1018: Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education
12/17/15 — The bill has been referred to three committees: Education Pre-K-12; Appropriations Subcommittee on Education; and Appropriations. No hearings have been scheduled yet.
12/2/15 — Bill was filed by Sen. Alan Hays.

House Bill
HB 899 – Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education
12/18/15 — The bill has been referred to three committees: K-12 Subcommittee; Education Appropriations Subcommittee; and Education Committee. No hearings have been scheduled yet.
12/8/15 — Bill was filed by Ray Pilon. It has three Co-Sponsors: Dane Eagle, Matt Gaetz and David Santiago.

Time to talk about textbooks

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

The Naples Daily News has a story up about efforts in the Florida legislature to possibly change the way textbooks are reviewed, approved and purchased: Activists look to change “buy” the book procedures

Bills in the state House and Senate would change the way school districts select classroom material, increasing parental involvement, putting more of the burden on elected, rather than appointed, officials and de-emphasizing electronic materials.

I briefly mentioned the Senate bill, filed by Sen. Hays, in a previous post in which I asked what the motivation behind the bill might be. Information in the Naples Daily News article has provided some clues to help us answer that question.

The identical bills are the work of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance and Better Collier County Public Schools, two organizations frequently at odds with the Collier County School Board majority and Superintendent Kamela Patton.

I looked up Florida Citizens’ Alliance and discovered some interesting things about them. They’ve been concentrating on history textbooks, but some of those books have sections explaining human evolution. In this December 22 post, they say that there is a problem with how evolution is presented:

“Florida History: People and Nations” Collier County 6th grade History: These two pages teach the children that we descended from apes. This is stated as a fact not a theory. Nowhere in the material is a balanced discussion of the biblical explanation.

textbookskullsThere is a link in their post to a pdf scan of the textbook pages in question.

In a December 15 post they publish a full report on Modern World History, 9th Grade Teacher Edition Year: 2013. Here is one of their critiques:

Study of Darwin’s theory of evolution

Very biased section and Darwin’s conclusions presented as fact and the biblical theory as ludicrous

– Poses the question “how can the earths tremendous variety of plants and animals be explained?” states as fact millions of species exist and fossil records document changes over time. Darwin proved species compete for food and only fittest survive and pass off traits to their offspring.

-while the biblical explanation claims all species created by God on the same day

This is a totally superficial and disingenuous comparison. No reference of fact that both are theories or offer students references like the well documented series called “ The Truth Project” by Focus on the Family.

And a November 2 post is titled: “How To” Suggestions For Creating And Managing A Curriculum Education Watchdog Committee In Your County. One suggestion there is:

Reach out to church leaders to help them understand how evil much of the revisionist content is. The History and literature Common Core uses teaches that nothing is true and everything is permissive. Example: FL 6th grade world History books teach we came from apes as a statement of fact rather than teaching the Theory of Evolution as a theory.

Now take a look at their Examples of Acceptable/Proven K-12 Standards and Corresponding Curriculum. One such example is Freedom Project Education, which displays on their website: “Classical, Judeo-Christian, Online Academy”. The textbook they use in Biology is Exploring Creation with Biology.

Florida Citizens’ Alliance is rallying supporters to push these bills through, using an Action Alert to spark the campaign. Also take note of this paragraph in the Naples Daily News article:

Flaugh said about 80 organizations from around the state have agreed to support the legislation. He expects 15 to 20 representatives from those groups to be in Tallahassee in January to lobby for the changes as the legislative session begins Jan. 12.

The motivations behind the bills are now very clear. There is no question. Will you, Florida Citizens for Science members and supporters, respond?

Boca Raton son and father sue over school’s alleged failure to teach evolution

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Two stories have popped up about a possible lawsuit against a Florida school district for not teaching evolution properly.

Boca Raton Student Sues District For Failing To Teach Evolution

“Evolution is a very important topic and its greatest scientific breakthrough ever so I believe it should be taught,” stated fifth grade student Brandon Silver.

Silver, his brother Ari, and their father, attorney Barry Silver, faced the PBC school board to present an 18-page lawsuit that claims students are not being properly taught about evolution in the classroom and are being given false, misleading, and dangerous information about certain religions.

Boca Raton father, son sue school district for not teaching evolution

According to the lawsuit, “There are currently schools and textbooks which provide false, misleading, and dangerous information about certain religions and purposely omit factual information if it appears unfavorable to them and/or politically incorrect, which cause Palm Beach County public school students not to receive a high quality education required by the Florida law.”

Sen. Hays files bill about instructional materials

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

State senator Alan Hays filed a bill recently (SB 1018: Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education) that says, in part:

Each district school board shall ensure that all instructional materials used in the classroom meet the following criteria:
b. Provide a noninflammatory, objective, and balanced viewpoint on issues

Anyone want to take a guess as to what Hays’ motivation is?

Florida Citizens for Science AGM

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

FCS will hold their 8th AGM early next year (date and location yet to be determined) The purpose is to consider the organizations plans for the coming year 2016.  With the introduction of the “new” Florida Science Standards(which contain evolution and global warming ) I am sure the opposition to these teachings will be just as intense and organized as it was in 2008. We need to be ready. If you would like to be more involved in our work,please consider becoming a active member or even serve on the board.  You can contact one of our current board members or stay tuned to this blog for further information.

2016 Florida Science Fair

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

2016 marks the 61 st science and engineering fair of Florida. The organizers are seeking more than 400 Judges in all areas of science to interview the talented science research students of Florida. I hope that our organization will provide the time and expertise  needed to provide high-quality face-to-face judging interviews for this prestigious competition –the largest academic competition in the state of Florida. Our Florida students continue to excel at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair each year by winning more Place and Special Awards than any other state.  On line judging registration can be found at  http://www.ssefflorida.com/categories.html. Please if you have the time and the knowledge offer your services to this worthy cause.