The St. Petersburg Times posted a story this evening outlining what was found in e-mails the newspaper obtained via public records requests from the Florida Department of Education. The purpose of the public records request? To find out where the last minute new state science standards option that featured the inclusion of the words “scientific theory” came from and why it was done.
The e-mails shed light on several developments in the still-simmering evolution debate that were never fully reported.
In the days leading up to the Feb. 19 vote, Smith and other DOE officials were scrambling to find a compromise, the e-mails show. And while they did not want to undermine the integrity of the standards, they were willing to push a politically driven alternative — or were themselves driven into pushing one — over the passionate objections of those who crafted them.
The urgent tone of many of the e-mails also sheds more light on just how close the Board of Education came to rejecting scientifically acclaimed science standards, and how key the compromise may have been to saving them.
The committee, dominated by scientists and science teachers, had spent months crafting the standards, using national and international models as guides. Many of its members were not happy with the turn of the events — and said so in a barrage of e-mails to DOE officials over the weekend.
“By caving in now, we are basically allowing majority vote to override facts, observation and evidence,” wrote University of South Florida chemistry professor Gerry Meisels. “We will never win a fight if we don’t fight. We may not win, but we owe it to our children and Florida’s future at least to try.”
Meisels signed off, “Gerry, a.k.a. Don Quixote.”