Thursday is probably our last realistic chance to put the brakes on, or at least challenge, the creationist and climate change denier’s dream bill: Instructional Materials bills SB 1210 and HB 989. (See our long list of blog posts on these bills in the Instructional Materials bill ’17 category.) The Senate Appropriation Committee is scheduled to hear their version of the bill then. It would be gratifying to see at least one senator point out the massive pitfalls in it. Even better, wouldn’t it be nice to pull off a miracle by having the bill voted down? The only way that will happen is if you contact the committee senators. I know, without a doubt, our opponents are working the phones. We need to be louder!
And the full House was expected to question and debate the bill today (Tuesday). But I believe that the meeting ran too long, pushing HB 989 to tomorrow’s calendar (Wednesday). It couldn’t hurt to contact lawmakers there to see if any of them will speak up for reality-based science education.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel has an article online tonight (to be published in the Wednesday print edition) about the bills: Parents may get new way to challenge school textbooks. Florida Citizens for Science is featured nicely.
The proposals have alarmed some science advocates, who fear the measures could lead to books that tackle controversial but required scientific topics, such as evolution, being removed or to those subjects being axed from class lessons.
In one of the affidavits, for example, a Martin County resident wrote about her objections to a textbook used in an Advanced Placement course. “Presentation of evolution as fact … The vast majority of Americans believe that the world and the beings living on it were created by God as revealed in the Bible,” wrote Lynda Daniel.
“If this bill becomes law, school boards will become inundated with demands that certain books be outright banned and that schools must discontinue using textbooks that don’t mesh with a vocal minority’s ideological views,” wrote Brandon Haught, a Volusia County high school science teacher and member of the group Florida Citizens for Science.
The bills are a “disaster” and would mean school boards would have to deal with “nonsense complaints” in a process that gives “protesters on a crusade nearly equal weight in the instructional materials selection processes as education and subject matter experts,” Haught said.
Ruth Melton, director of advocacy services for the Florida School Boards Association, said her group believes residents should be able to voice their views about school books. But it has some concerns about the bills, such as whether they will mean residents could continue to file protests long after school boards have had vote to adopt textbooks for use in upcoming classes.
“Have we created language here that just invites challenge and litigation?” she said. “How could this go sideways?”
We know exactly how. We’ve been trying to tell everyone for weeks now. Isn’t it about time someone listens?