Florida creationists and climate change deniers asked for more citizen input into instructional materials selection for our public schools last year. They got it with little resistance. Now they want more. And it looks like they’re getting it.
Florida Senate Bill 1644, which would make changes yet again to how instructional materials such as textbooks can be selected and challenged, made it through its Education Committee stop Monday on a 7-3 vote. The good news is that some senators are catching on to the schemeÂ (from the Tampa Bay Times story: Parents could get more voice in school textbook selection under bill moving through Florida Legislature) …
“I just can’t get my hands wrapped around the consequences that could come from this bill,” said Sen. Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat. “I worry about those who would deny climate change, those who would deny evolution, having too great a say.”
Sen. Perry Thurston Jr., also a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, raised concerns that a “small minority” of people from a small section of Florida is controlling the issue.
“If we continue to do this every year, they’re going to come back wanting more,” Thurston said in opposition.
Unfortunately, the word hasn’t spread to their fellow senators. It looks like this bill is heading for the finish line if it gets through a Rules Committee in the future.
I recommend that you watch the video of the Education Committee meeting. Discussion of SB 1644 starts at 17:15. I was disgusted when one senator admitted on the record that he voted for last year’s bill, which became law, simply on behalf of the bill sponsor. In other words, he didn’t vote for it last year on the bill’s merits, but rather as a favor (or something like that) to the bill sponsor.
Meanwhile in the House, the bill’s companion HB 827, shot right through its Education Committee hearing today (Thursday) on a 19-0 vote. There was no real opposition. None. Watch the video for this hearing here. The discussion of the bill starts at 38:18.
I believe that this bill has several differences from the Senate bill. One significant deviation is that the House bill includes a provision that allows for the selection of instructional materials that are “more rigorous” than the state standards. This is a transplant from the other pair of bills that are insanely bad news for science education SB 966/HB 825. Those bills are dead and stand no chance of passage this legislative session. Keep in mind that those bills were about allowing school districts to adopt their own sets of academic standards provided they are equal to or more rigorous than the state’s established standards. But, of course, there is no clear definition of “rigorous.” And if a district does adopt its own standards, it would be required by law to include in its science standards: “Controversial theories and concepts must be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner.” Now, because those bills are dead, some of that language was stitched into the House version of the instructional materials bill. No pending legislation is ever dead in Tallahassee.
Go to about 50:11 in the video to hear the bill sponsor explain what is meant by more rigorous. He talks about going above and beyond in math. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Now skip ahead to about 58:49 during citizen comments. Keith Flaugh of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance talks about why this bill is important. He says that the Alliance gave lawmakers a 10-page document that explains just how horrible current textbooks used by school districts are. Here is that document. Read it. Here is one excerpt:
â€œDisruption: A Call to Act on Climate Changeâ€ is an improper and unbalanced propaganda video supporting activist causes like a march for climate change
(www.peoplesclimate.org is organizing for future marches and events of civil disobedience).
The video attacks the Keystone XL pipeline and encourages its viewers (in this instance, Collier County public school children) to get to work and to get in the street and stand up and say â€œno more.â€ Further, the video promotes the anti-fossil fuel social movement and calls for the globe to â€œget off fossil fuels now.â€
By any fair measure, this video tends to indoctrinate and persuade students to a particular point of view. Further, this video culminates with a demand for action. You are simply unable to deny that its viewers were asked to do three (3) things, â€œhere is what you can do right nowâ€¦. â€œJoin the Marchâ€ www.peoplesclimate.org (by the way this organization is organizing for future marches and events of civil disobedience), send a message to â€œText DISRUPT to 97779â€, and â€œshare this video.â€
A prior, parent notice was NOT given, parents were simply unaware of what the school did, and so the fact that parents did not complain is to be expected and is not surprising. The call to viewer action against the Keystone XL pipeline and the message to â€œget off fossil fuels nowâ€ is not acceptable to most parents in Collier County who firmly stand with the Republican Party platform on these issues. By any fair measure, this is video does not constitute educational rigor.
Another excerpt is:
â€œFlorida History: People and Nationsâ€ Authors: Anatole Mazour, John Peoples, Publisher: Harcourt
This book is full of factual errors and half-truths. http://goo.gl/vYTYtR
That link takes you to this page which lists all sorts of complaints about evolution including:
This textbook states that independent tests verify Darwinâ€™s evolution theory. However, there is much controversy regarding this theory. For instance paleontology actually refutes Darwinâ€™s theory in a very critical way. The fossil record actually demonstrates the sudden appearance of diverse organisms without any evidence of predecessor organisms.
And that’s just a small sample.
Is this what is actually meant by more rigorous?
The House bill also allows citizens to recommend to the Florida Department of Education any instructional materials they want. And then, if the bill became law, the DoE would be forced to contact each of the publishing companies to invite them to submit a bid for consideration. Want to see what the Alliance would recommend? Visit the Alliance’sÂ Objectives And Alternatives For Objectionable Textbooks page. There you will find a link to the Project Freedom website, which lists in its science offeringsÂ Apologia Biology Text, which is Exploring Biology Creation with Biology.
That’s what they mean by “more rigorous.” This is what they would force the DoE to invite textbook bids for.
And they’re one step closer to getting what they want.
Go back and watch both the House and the Senate committee meetings. Carefully pay attention to the public comments. How many people were there in support of the bills in both committees? About three in each from the Alliance (which originated the bills) and their partner organizations.
How many people opposed the bills?
Only through your efforts will senators and representatives know what the true intentions of these bills are.