Welcome to the final week of the Florida legislative session. Today, the creationist-enabling Instructional Materials bill (SB 1210) is being debated on the Senate floor. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out the Instructional Materials bills ’17 blog category here to find out why creationists, climate change deniers and anti-vaccine nuts love this bill that could impact how textbooks are chosen on the local school board level.) As of this writing, I don’t know if the bill has actually been debated yet or if that will come later. I’ve been at work all day, as I’m sure most of you have been, so I haven’t been able to monitor today’s proceedings. If I understand the process correctly, senators will just ask questions and debate the merits of the bill today without any voting. Then the bill needs to be scheduled for a full Senate vote on some later date. Of course, I could be wrong about that. I’m no expert, and it is the final week of session. I don’t know if the process can be expedited before the session ends on Friday. We’ll see.
While we wait to see what happens, the online news website Motherboard published a story today about the Instructional Materials bills: Florida Bills Would Let Citizens Remove Textbooks That Mention Climate Change and Evolution. I’m excited about the story because for the very first time, one of the main bill creators/supporters, Florida Citizens’ Alliance’s Keith Flaugh, has finally been directly confronted with our science education concerns. His thoughts on the matter are quite revealing:
Keith Flaugh, co-director of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a libertarian advocacy group, argued the bills are about transparency and giving communities greater say in school materials, which he said are currently being chosen by “politicized” school districts and “establishment” textbook companies.
“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.”
If only this view had been drawn out of Flaugh so much earlier! I don’t know if it would have done any good. But at least now there is clear evidence that Flaugh wants something in Florida schools that has been repeatedly judged by the court system to be unconstitutional.
What happens now? Assuming the Senate bill is voted on and approved by Friday, I believe the next step is that the House and Senate versions, which have some differences, need to be reconciled before a final joint version can be forwarded to the governor for signature. Does the merging of the different versions need to happen before Friday? I don’t know. I’m out of my depth right now. Anyone with better knowledge of the process is more than welcome to chime in.