Florida Citizens for Science member Kristine Hoppenworth attended the St. Johns County school board meeting during which the board approved an anti-evolution resolution. Here is Kristine’s report:
Hello! I attended the St. Johns School Board Meeting last night in St. Augustine at 6 pm. Although the resolution wasn’t on the agenda, it was added at the beginning of the meeting as the last resolution, CR 6, to be presented. Before CR 6, the audience was packed because this meeting also included recognition of Teachers of the Year, Retirees, etc. By 7:20, the final ceremony, listed as CR 5, was complete. The board called for a short break in which the room emptied out. This break could have come after CR 6, which was the last resolution on the agenda for this section of the meeting, but they chose to place the break before they got to this important matter.
At 7:30, the issue was introduced as follows, to a handful or audience members:
“This Resolution urges the State Board of Education to direct the Florida Department of Education to review the new Sunshine State Standards for Science to allow for balanced, objective, and intellectually open instruction in regards to evolution, teaching the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory rather than teaching evolution as dogmatic fact.”
The resolution was then read. [Copy can be seen here.]
Tommy Allen, District 2 board member, talked for about 6 minutes before members of the public were invited to speak. He explained that he was taught both evolution and other theories in school, and he found that another theory, that of a grand clock-winder, stood out to him. He explained that it was impossible that “things could just happen” and that when he gardens, he never plants a seed for it to grow into a different type of plant than it should. He wants the standards to include other theories which are “just as logically likely”.
From the public, Faye Armitage spoke, worried about science being watered down and about the attempt to insert Christianity into public schools under the guise of teaching the controversy.
Kim Kendall was next, and gave practically the same talk that she did at the Jacksonville meeting. She agrees with everyone, but she wants evolution taught with its flaws. She states that over 700 scientists discredit evolution (counting the hits, ignoring the thousands of misses). She gave her anecdote about her son coming home from school to tell her that scientists “discovered” that Pluto was not really a planet after all, as she was taught. Despite this being a gross misunderstanding of what happened with Pluto, I think she means to use it as an example that evolution is just another old piece of misinformation hanging around which needs to be updated. She emphasizes academic freedom (as science without “blinders”) and not religion, but the most current scientific research.
Niki Abate spoke next, and pointed out that science is happy to accommodate theories supported by scientific data, but that ID has failed to publish one peer-reviewed article. She counted the misses that Kim Kendall left out, and also restated that the idea of academic freedom was simply being used as camouflage. She concluded by leaving “other theories” to be included not in the science curriculum, but instead in philosophy or religion classes.
After these speakers, the board voted, and the result was an immediate, in-unison, unanimous “Aye.”
And that’s that.
Our sincere appreciation to Kristine for attending and reporting. Also, thanks to Faye Armitage for providing to us a copy of the resolution.