The time for action is now in Marion County

Do you live in Marion County? If you don’t, do you have friends, family or colleagues in Marion County? It’s time to get work there.

Marion County Public Schools recently issued this press release:

MARION COUNTY – Marion County Public Schools is the first school district in Florida to adopt its own textbooks, breaking a long-standing practice of relying on the state to approve books for the classroom.

Since November 1, dozens of volunteers including parents, teachers and other community members have reviewed textbooks in 17 subject areas at all grade levels. Their recommendations were then presented to Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier.

Maier will present her recommendations to the Marion County School Board in early 2018. The public online access window to view copies of all recommended student editions, now required by state law, is open and available at Individuals wanting to review and comment on proposed textbooks should click the “Recommended Textbook Adoption Information Here” under the “Important Messages” tab. Comments may be presented in person to the School Board at a January 9, 2018 public hearing. The Board will vote on all recommended titles on February 13, 2018. Following the Board vote, a 30-day objection window opens to the public. If necessary, a public hearing on all formal objections will be held in March, as required by state law.

For more information, call 352.867.2121.

I’m familiar with the science textbooks on Marion County’s recommended list. You can see the list at this link (which goes to a pdf). They’re from major publishing companies and there are no surprises that I can find. That’s the good news.

However, there’s a very good chance that the creationist, climate-change-denying group Florida Citizens’ Alliance will be out in full force during the public hearing process. At least one member of the Alliance’s advisory council is in Marion County. That means we need YOU to be out in force, too.

Keep in mind that there was a recent news report that stated Marion County got complaints about their science textbooks. When I followed up with a public records request for anything on those protests I was told that it was all verbal complaints.

And Marion County has some history of accommodating creationists. In chapter eight of my book Going Ape I mentioned that the Marion County School District bought materials advocating intelligent design in 2005 (the book Of Pandas and People and the DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life) for placement in the libraries of all seven of their high schools. The superintendent at that time said, “We’re dealing with it as a controversial issue. We’re just trying to be open and honest and address what it is.”

What will happen in Marion County in 2018? It’s up to you.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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