Road trip to Collier County: Speaking up for science education

I’ll be on the road tomorrow morning (Monday) headed to Naples on a mission to help speak up for science education. I hope to see some of you folks there so we can finally meet in person.

Why do science defenders need to converge on Collier County? Because a coordinated and determined group of creationists and climate change deniers are attacking what’s in science textbooks the school board is considering adopting for use in classrooms across the county. Because of a relatively new state law, any citizen who submits official complaints about instructional materials used in a school district will trigger a hearing presided over by a hearing officer. And the creationists in Collier County compiled one heck of a list of complaints. Here’s but a taste. There are many, many, many more similar complaints filed:

Textbook: Elevate Science, Kinder
Page Number: 8-11
ObjectionBased: Bias
Objection: Four “experts” are shown. There are 2 blacks and 1 Asian represented. This is not representative of our society
Further, all four are “young.” This is NOT representative of our population or our societal expertise in science.

Textbook: Elevate Science, 1st Grade
PageNumber: entire text
ObjectionBased: Bias
Objection: Again, unrepresentative of various societal groups. Minorities dominate. One white female; no white males.

Textbook: Pearson Elevate Science, Florida Edition Life Science
Chapter beginning p184-244
Evolution presented as fact not a theory.
Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design are all theories in the sense they are unproven. Florida statutes require teaching controversial subjects with accuracy, balances and objectivity.

Textbook: Glencoe Biology
Page 383-475
Biase, Error
Earth’s Evolution presented as fact not a theory. This is a very complex discussion. Factual Error, Half-truth, Omission of Fact, Bias, Slant. Many scientists do not believe the earth is millions of years old.

The hearing starts at 3:30 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administrative Center (5775 Osceola Trail, Naples). And we predict it’s going to last a few hours. We science defenders and other miscellaneous attendees will only get three minutes each at the beginning of the hearing to state our cases. But then the creationists who filed the official complaints will get about 20 or 30 minutes each and there are three or four of them. School district officials will also get some time to give their views. Finally, the school board is expected to vote at to close of the hearing.

I plan on being there throughout so I can observe firsthand and report back to all of you. I doubt I’ll do many live posts for the blog here, but I will try to post regular live updates to Twitter and/or Facebook. It all depends on the Wi-Fi and other resources there. So, check in with me on the various platforms around 3:00 or shortly thereafter to find out the circumstances.

I have a good idea what I plan on saying if I get my three minutes (I’m not sure if out-of-towners get to speak). I’m not confident it will make a difference, though. We’ll see.

Here are some helpful links to get you prepared.

>> The Collier County Instructional Materials web page. You can find the hearing procedures near the top of the page. And some recently filed Supplemental Evidence Submissions are below that. Scroll down a little ways to find links to all of the original complaint documents the creationists submitted.

>> The creationists and climate change deniers mainly come from the Collier County organization Florida Citizens’ Alliance. Here is a recent post on their site: FLORIDA SCHOOLS BREAK LAW BY PUSHING LIES ABOUT EVOLUTION & CLIMATE CHANGE. And here is a press release they issued that helps explain their mindset: FLCA Press Release: Why Are Florida School Boards Violating Florida Law?

On May 8, 2018, the Collier County School Board, concurring with Superintendent Kamala Patton, adopted twenty-seven science textbooks. At least fifteen of the textbooks present evolution and man-made global warming as absolute fact. Both subjects remain far from settled in the scientific community and in the minds of the numerous Collier County residents expressing their concerns. Most importantly they violate Florida law (FS 1006.31.2) that requires textbooks to be “accurate, objective, balanced, non-inflammatory.”

Collier County resident, Keith Flaugh, summarized the residents’ concerns in his testimony. “My submissions contain extensive documentation to challenge these materials as absolute fact. Let me state clearly, I am not standing here to tell you one theory is right and one is wrong. (emphasis added) I am saying that you are legally bound to adopt materials that present the alternative views to our students as theories to allow them to make their own conclusions rather than intimidate and bully these young minds with a political agenda.”

>> And here are some of my previous posts about this Collier County mess:

>> If you want to watch the hearing, I’m not sure if it will be broadcast live. It could be here on the televised school board meetings page or perhaps the education live page.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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2 Responses to Road trip to Collier County: Speaking up for science education

  1. Ted Bell says:

    I’ll be there if they broadcast live. 3:30pm in Florida = 5:30am in Sydney

    BTW, past Board Meetings may be listed as “televised” but there is ZERO content.

    Best wishes.


  2. Michael Suttkus, II says:

    Why are we getting so much spam lately? Do you need a moderator?

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