Early report on the Miramar meeting

An Associated Press article on tonight’s meeting in Miramar about the new draft of the state science standards is already up on the Florida Times-Union website. The story does not give an overall impression of attendance or how many people spoke and such. The focus was mainly on just two people on opposite sides of the debate.

For those who have been following this adventure for the past few months, you probably thought that Polk County was the Florida poster child for anti-science sentiments. This story, though, shows that even Polk County can be one-upped:

Last month Taylor County School Board unanimously approved a resolution saying the district is opposed to teaching evolution as a fact.

No, that is not a joke, people. Here it is in the Taylor County school board meeting minutes of Nov. 20. Scroll down to page seven and you’ll see:

Upon motion by Danny Lundy, seconded by Darrell Whiddon the Board adopted/approved the: 1.) Resolution regarding the new Sunshine State Standards for Science.

The adoped resolution is as follows:
Whereas, the Florida Department of Education has drafted and is now proposing new Sunshine State Standards for Science, the Taylor County School Board opposes the implementation of the new standards as currently presented.
Whereas, the new Sunshine State Standards for Science no longer present evolution as theory but as “the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported in multiple forms of scientific evidence,” we are requesting that the State Board of Education direct the Florida Department of Education to revise/edit the new Sunshine State Standards for Science so that evolution is presented as one of several theories as to how the universe was formed.
Whereas, the Taylor County School Board recognizes the importance of providing a thorough and comprehensive Science education to all the students in Taylor County and to all students in the state of Florida, it recognizes as even more important the need to present these standards through a fair and balanced approach, an approach that does not unfairly exclude other theories as to the creation of the universe.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Taylor County School Board of Taylor County, Perry, Florida, that the Board urges the State Board of Education to direct the Florida Department of Education to revise the new Sunshine State Standards for Science such that evolution is not presented as fact, but as one of several theories.

So, Taylor County joins our long list of Florida school boards who need you to educate them on what exactly science is and isn’t. Click here for our list and the school board contact information.

As crazy as the Taylor County school board is, we must not forget that it’s the state board of education that needs our direct attention. One state board member, Donna Callaway, apparently is not backing off of her intention to vote against the standards.

Callaway says she doesn’t “expect everyone to agree with me or like me. You have to make tough decisions.”

A long time attendee of First Baptist Tallahassee, Callaway has already indicated she will vote against the standards.

If you think Taylor County school board members and Ms. Callaway are wrong on this issue, as Florida Citizens for Science does, then don’t just sit around waiting to see what happens. Do something! Write, call, e-mail … make your voice heard! Use information from our county list and combine it with our “All I Want … is a Good Science Education” call to action project.

Don’t let Florida be the laughingstock of the country … and world.

34 Responses to “Early report on the Miramar meeting”

  1. Bad Says:

    It’s ironic that they are voting on something called “standards” when the seeming point of them is to relax the standards on what is and isn’t science so much that any belief counts as science, regardless the evidence.

  2. ChemBob Says:

    This resolution is flawed on so many levels, including the misunderstanding of science in general, the misunderstanding of the scientific meaning of “theory,” and, remarkably, in their statement that evolution (clearly referring to biological evolutionary theory) is “one of several theories as to how the universe was formed.” Wouldn’t Darwin be surprised at that! He thought he was writing about evolution by natural selection and Taylor County, 1.5 centuries later (or thereabouts) has expanded his work to include the formation of the universe. Good grief.

  3. waldteufel Says:

    Would somebody please explain to me why Florida and most of the other southern states seem to be such reservoirs of proud ignorance?

    I would be very cautious of hiring anyone who was “educated” in Florida.

  4. 5ive Says:

    here is what I wrote to them all, feel free to add to or take out of whatever… :

    Hello. My name is ______ and I was reading the resolution that was approved by the Taylor County School Board in November concerning the teaching of evolution in the public schools. As an adult Nursing student with a 3.89 gpa, I could not help but notice a few misconceptions you seem to have about evolution.
    Firstly, it is stated in the minutes that the board is ” requesting that the State Board of Education direct the Florida Department of Education to revise/edit the new Sunshine State Standards for Science so that evolution is presented as one of several theories as to how the universe was formed.”
    This has a bit of a problem in it. I think the misunderstanding begins with the everyday use of the word “theory” and the scientific use of the same word. Everyday use allows theory to mean an idea or an hypothesis. However, when the word “theory” is used in a scientific manner such as the “theory of relativity” or the “theory of evolution” it has a different meaning. In this use, it means a hypothesis that has been repeatedly tested and proven using natural evidence. This particular theory (the theory of evolution) is more than 100 years old and not only has it never been disproved, but it has been continuously proved with each new scientific finding. In fact, it has proved so accurate, that we are able to accurately predict the sorts fossil expected to be found at specific layers in the earth according to their eras.
    Secondly, the resolution says, “it (the board) recognizes as even more important the need to present these standards through a fair and balanced approach, an approach that does not unfairly exclude other theories as to the creation of the universe.” I believe with this you are confusing something such as the “big bang” with evolution. Evolution makes absolutely no claim for the creation of any world. The theory of evolution tells us how various species come from other species, not how the earth was made.
    Lastly,the Taylor County School Board wishes that the State school board would, “revise the new Sunshine State Standards for Science such that evolution is not presented as fact, but as one of several theories.” Again, I would please refer you to the scientific definition of the word “theory”. After reading that definition, it should be obvious that there are currently no alternatives theories that have undergone scientific testing and survived. Therefore, until it is proven incorrect beyond a shadow of a doubt, we must continue to educate our children in a way that will help them understand the world around them. Evolution is at the very core of understanding life sciences. Understanding Everything in the life sciences relies on this theory. To present an alternate, unproven and disproved hypothesis would be a great disservice to our population.
    Please take a moment to read about the ideas you seek to water down with unproven hypothesis.
    Thank you for you time and efforts to read this letter.
    A very concerned citizen of the United States of America,
    name here.

  5. The Taylor County School Board in Florida has voted to oppose evolution « The Frame Problem Says:

    […] The Florida Citizens for Science report that the “Taylor County School Board unanimously approved a resolution saying the district is opposed to teaching evolution as a fact” (italics mine). […]

  6. Kurt Seifried Says:

    “so that evolution is presented as one of several theories as to how the universe was formed.”

    Evolution never claimed to explain how the universe was formed. No seriously. Evolution has NOTHING to do with the creation of the universe (evolution is a biological theory, the formation of the universe typically falls into physics if you want to take a scientific view). I think one MAJOR part of the problem is that many anti-evolution protesters/etc. simply do not know what evolution is, so with no offense intended I think it is fair to say they have no idea what they are talking about (which is scary since they are influencing the curriculum!).

  7. Bad Says:

    These guys have been listening to Kent Hovind and his bizarre “evolution describes how the planets formed” nonsense.

  8. James Cronen Says:

    The sheer fact that the words “fair and balanced” appear in the text of the resolution irks me.

    Forget “fair and balanced”. We should strive for “correct”.

  9. Voting on science Says:

    […] (This post inspired by this post on Pharyngula, originally quoting Early report on the Miramar meeting at Florida Citizens for Science.) […]

  10. Jonathan Stuckey, Bass » Blog Archive » May I Never Move to Taylor County, Florida Says:

    […] Taylor County, Florida, just decided to oppose evolution. They want evolution “presented as one of several theories as to how the universe was formed.” First off, they misunderstand the term “theory” as it is used in science. Second, they do not seem to understand that evolution describes how organisms change over time through inheritance and adaptation, not how the universe was formed. That’s physical cosmology, not evolution. […]

  11. Sam Says:

    I live in another backwards state, Texas, and I used to get mad about “Yankees” moving down here. Now, they can’t get here fast enough for me. I only hope they can get here soon enough to save us from all the idiots that were born here.

  12. blue collar scientist » Blog Archive » Taylor County, Florida: Fail. Says:

    […] With unanimous approval, the Taylor County (Florida) School Board has approved a resolution supporting creationism and condemning science (hat tip to Pharyngula): Whereas, the Florida Department of Education has drafted and is now proposing new Sunshine State Standards for Science, the Taylor County School Board opposes the implementation of the new standards as currently presented. […]

  13. FMCH Says:

    YA know, if these dolts keep confusing evolution with abiogenisis, we have just dumbed down our collective Floor-EE-Duh! IQ

  14. Berlzebub Says:

    Did anyone else notice this?

    The adoped resolution is as follows:

    Don’t creationists use spell check, or the find/replace feature in word processing programs?

    I mean, cdesign proponentists? Geez.

  15. Florida Citizens for Science » Blog Archive » Breathtaking inanity Says:

    […] Sure, the Taylor County school board was apparently the first to pass a resolution complaining about evolution (previous post here), but they’re not the only one. […]

  16. none Says:

    Poor kids. Those adults are very similar to Muslim fundamentalists. This is nothing short of child abuse in my opinion.

  17. Carey Says:

    “The adoped resolution is as follows:”

    Yeah. Doped is just about right. Anyone who thinks evolution is a theory for how the universe was formed is smoking something very serious.

    People like this are too stupid for their continued existence to be justified. Can we get a stupid tax passed please? That would incentivize morons like this to read a book (not THAT one!) once in a while.

  18. bookish Says:

    O. M. G.

    Cheetohs for everyone.

    This what comes from the marriage of dumb and self-righteous.

  19. squareONE explorations » Blog Archive » TAYLOR COUNTY DEVOLVES Says:

    […] By way of the blog of Florida Citizens for Science comes a capture from the notes of a Taylor County Florida school board meeting. Upon motion by Danny Lundy, seconded by Darrell Whiddon the Board adopted/approved the: 1.) Resolution regarding the new Sunshine State Standards for Science. […]

  20. Matt Says:

    “Don’t let Florida be the laughingstock of the country … and world.”

    Uh, hello? 2000? Anyone? You’re late by eight years.

  21. Al Fletcher Says:

    I say, yes, let them teach Creationism in the classroom. That will take…what….30 seconds?

  22. dynadude Says:

    I just want to know who is going to hire the members of that board after they get thrown out of their jobs, which should happen soon after the filings of multiple lawsuits.

  23. Adrian Bool Says:

    Come on people,

    “it (the board) recognizes as even more important the need to present these standards through a fair and balanced approach, an approach that does not unfairly exclude other theories as to the creation of the universe.”

    Is not trying to state that evolution explains the creation of the Universe; their reason for this phrase is that if evolution is a fact, that the whole 7 days craziness of Universe creation is impossible. They are protecting their literal bible explanation.

  24. Bob Says:

    Endemic ignorance in these parts. In 1980, my wife was a high school intern in Wakulla County, just down the road from Taylor County. The class was called “AVC” ; do you old timers remember that one? “American versus Communism.” The teacher (the one being paid) gave a lecture about the dastardly General Tito. After a half hour or so, a bright student raised the point of the evil doer’s recent demise. The class giggled at the fact that the teacher clearly did not know of his. The teacher sent the student to the admin office for discipline.

  25. Linda Says:

    I’m from Massachusetts, but my folks have retired in Florida. I love visiting the state, but have always been hesitant to consider moving there because I’m not sure about what kind of education my kids would receive. I heard about this issue on another blog, and just wanted to chime in here with a suggestion. Maybe someone should propose to the school board that creation stories be taught in English/Literature classes rather than in science class. I went to public school in the 70s and 80s, and clearly remember reading several different creation myths in my 7th grade English class. We read Genesis from the Bible, but also Babylonian, Chinese, Norse and other myths. It was really interesting to compare and contrast the stories, and I don’t recall our teacher ever telling us whether one story was true or false. Most of the kids were Catholic, but nobody was offended.
    The school boards in Florida could also vote to mandate high school classes about comparative religion if they want to teach kids about the “theory” of intelligent design. But science class in public schools should be about science. If people feel otherwise, they should send their kids to private religious schools!

  26. S. Scott Says:

    Unfortunately – Mass. is one of those states that has a “wierd” law in their constitution. If you’re still here I’ll tell you about it,

  27. shuffleboil | A Shuffleboil List Says:

    […] 1. And continental drift isn’t the only explanation for the formation of planets, either. The new plan with the Taylor County school board in Florida is that  “Evolution is presented as one of several theories as to how the universe was formed.” It’s always nice when the opponents of the theory of evolution understand it so keenly. […]

  28. S.Scott Says:

    Someone needs to ask them “what are the other theories that you are talking about?”. ID? nope we can sue. Creation? nope we can sue. So what, then?

  29. Merwolf Says:

    Education in Florida

    Has been deficient for quite some time. I always joke about having gone to Dade County schools and for that reason could not be expected to understand any science, math, or geography since I didn’t have to take a lot of that in school.

    On the other hand, I can type pretty well, and play several musical instruments, neither of which has helped me much in my career as a network engineer.

    I graduated high school in 1980. Nevertheless, the patent obviousness of the science of evolution has always been clear to me.

    I think the problem is in the name. We never call shooting a rocket off ‘theory of rocketry’ or a new medical discovery part of the theory of medicine. If they call it something other than the theory of evolution maybe the biblically inclined would not get so hung up on the word.

  30. News from Rob » Creationism in the Sunshine State Says:

    […] The watchdogs at Florida Citizens for Science (FCS and BTW they are the good guys) find that Taylor County has passed a resolution: [W]e are requesting that the State Board of Education direct the Florida Department of Education to revise/edit the new Sunshine State Standards for Science so that evolution is presented as one of several theories as to how the universe was formed. […]

  31. Hector P. Caban Zeda Says:

    Dear Sirs:

    People who have no knowledge of science should not have any saying about how science should be taught in schools. Just as I wouldn’t dream of teaching Sunday School since I am not a Bible Scholar, I cannot imagine anyone without a science degree deciding that evolution (a scientific fact¡) should not be taught in schools. I suspect these people are mistaking evolution versus the Theory of Evolution by Darwin. Evolution is a sienctific fact, the Theory of Evolution as Darwin proposed it is a theory which has been amply corroborated by experimental data for many decades now.
    Dr. Hector P. Caban Zeda

  32. Bitch Spot » Blog Archive » Florida: The Stupidity State Says:

    […] I’m sure by now most people know about the idiocy that is brewing in Florida.  The Taylor County school board passed a resolution that states: …we are requesting that the State Board of Education direct the Florida Department of Education to revise/edit the new Sunshine State Standards for Science so that evolution is presented as one of several theories as to how the universe was formed. […]

  33. questioningDarwin Says:

    I agree that the wording of this resolution is poor. Anyone with a mediocre science background knows that evolution is not a theory of the earth’s beginnings. But it is the beginning that gives us science teachers the most trouble when explaining evolution. Without DNA, the instructions for the first proteins could not be written; without proteins, DNA could not be constructed: it is a valid question.

    Why is it so unhealthy to question a 150 year old theory? We know so much more in science today–Darwin would have never imagined the complexity of the cell and all of its parts needed to perform its functions. Whether we want to admit or not, there are holes in the fossil record and problems with radiometric dating. Scientists, evolutionists and creationists alike, see what they want to see and publish only the data that fits into their preconceived beliefs. The evidence for microevolution (within a species) is undeniable, but we try to use that same evidence for macroevolution (from species to species) because that is what supports the theory that our entire science belief system is based on. Every middle school, high school, and college textbook has the one seemingly substantial fossil “evidence:” the evolution of the horse from the Eocene period. Out of over 100,000 species in the fossil record, we have the horse and a handful of others that are less convincing. The Eocene horse, Eohippus, loses a couple of toes over the course of tens of millions of years, and this is our proof?! What if we are wrong? What if this is just another example of microevolution of one species? What if the horse is not an example but an exception?

    When I teach my students how to discover through the scientific method, I don’t tell them to close their eyes to certain things that they may see otherwise. Francis Crick reminded all of us biologists that we must constantly remind ourselves that what we see is not designed but evolved. By closing ourselves off from the possibility of a creator, intelligent designer, AKA God, we are hindering scientific discovery outside of the realms of evolutionary explanation.

    I went to a public school before going to the Air Force Academy; I never looked outside of the box of evolution until I was challenged in a public school by one of my students. (These are a few of the questions that were posed: If the moon has such an effect on gravity and it is moving away from us at 3.8 cm annually, then what would life on earth have been like millions of years ago when the moon was much closer? Would the gravitational pull be greater or less? Would the earth’s axis be affected?) They weren’t evolution questions, but the questions challenged me enough to start thinking. (His evolution questions were even more challenging: Doesn’t evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics because it suggests that nature is formed from chaos?–he was 14!)

    There is nothing unhealthy about questioning evolution (or creation). These are the most important questions that a young person or anyone could ask. Why not allow multiple theories to be debated instead of teaching solely from the printed texts of Prentice Hall or Holt, Rinehart, and Winston? These texts are fantastic, but they are also one-sided and teach evolution as if it were without fault. Evolution is as much of a religion as Christianity. In both, there is a set of beliefs that must be accepted before the evidence can be used to substantiate that set of beliefs. Evolution, whether punctuated or gradual, needs a belief in the power of natural selection. Christianity needs a belief in the omnipotent power of God. The creationist and evolutionist can look at the same bacteria under a microscope; they will both see incredible complexity–both can view in awe and use their scientific knowledge to discover more, but the only difference will be that one will see the creator through the creation. If the greatest problem that arises from the teaching of alternative theories is more inquisitive students and future scientists that recognize a creator in their work, then what is the fear about?

    I teach evolution not because I have to but because I believe that it is important for my students to recognize our classification system, use evolutionary processes to explain adaptations within species, and be relevant in today’s scientific world. Charles Darwin was an exceptionally bright man that used his observations to write a book that became a theory because of its validity to science and direct application to the organization of living things. I teach biology and earth science to future doctors and biologists. They will be prepared in their sciences for any major college.

    But I have also shared my faith in Christ with them through my actions, my answers to students’ questions, and my love for them because I believe that it is too important to neglect. I am a Christian; I represent Christ. I don’t deserve it, and I often fail. I am sorry for anyone that has misrepresented Christ in your past. I have been guilty of misrepresentation myself, but because of OUR Creator’s love and mercy, He sent His son that I might be atoned for my sins, our sins. Because God is just and holy, he cannot allow sin to go unpunished, and if I really believe that then would ever allow an opportunity (like this) to pass by?

    Whether it is law or not (and I am sure some lawsuit will in fact close the debates in schools again), I will teach from my heart: evolution and creation (call it whatever you want). There are lots of questions that we have yet to answer, and I am not going to close my students or myself off to any possible conclusions. “We will follow the evidence wherever it leads” even if it brings us face to face with the Creator.

    P.S. I do not consider myself “ignorant,” “stupid,” or a “moron,” but despite my knowledge of evolution, I have chosen to believe in a loving Creator because of the evidences and the questions that are left unanswered not purely out of blind faith.

  34. PC-Bash Says:

    questioningDarwin –

    Why not allow multiple theories to be debated instead of teaching solely from the printed texts of Prentice Hall or Holt, Rinehart, and Winston?

    What alternate theories? Creationism, ID? Neither of these are even valid hypotheses, as they cannot be falsified. We cannot disprove the existence of a mythical being which cannot be observed. These are not theories, they are junk science. Junk science does not belong in the classroom.

    Evolution … needs a belief in the power of natural selection.

    Natural selection can be demonstrated, even in the lab. Faith or belief is only required for something which cannot be demonstrated.

    but the only difference will be that one will see the creator through the creation.

    Thus coloring their observation and preventing them from seeing a simpler solution to the same problem.

    If the greatest problem that arises from the teaching of alternative theories is more inquisitive students and future scientists that recognize a creator in their work, then what is the fear about?

    For one thing, they will learn that certain “theories” are exempt from scientific standards. Creationism, as I said above, is not a valid scientific hypothesis. As such, we are creating a class of things which fall outside of the scope of science, and therefore ruins science.

    But I have also shared my faith in Christ with them…

    That could be treading on dangerous ground, especially if you do this during normal school hours. How would you feel if your kid was told by an atheist teacher that your god does not exist?

    I have chosen to believe in a loving Creator because of the evidences and the questions that are left unanswered not purely out of blind faith.

    What evidence would this be?