Last day

The last day of the legislative session is here. Will the deceptively named “academic freedom” bills experience a miracle and gain passage? Or will they fizzle and die? Keep an eye on the Senate bill page throughout the day.

While you’re waiting for the end result, read this article in the Wall Street Journal about this latest evolution in the anti-evolution movement that we are experiencing up close and personal here in Florida.

A handful of states have considered such bills in recent years, but backers are now organizing a national movement, with high-profile help from actor Ben Stein. His new documentary, “Expelled,” argues that educators suffer reprisals if they dare question evolution; in an attempt to spur action, he has held private screenings for legislators, including a recent showing in the Missouri statehouse.

The common goal: To expose more students to articles and videos that undercut evolution. Most of this material is produced by advocates of intelligent design or Biblical creationism, the belief that God created man in his present form.

Both houses of the Florida legislature passed academic freedom bills this month, but it is unclear whether backers can reconcile the two versions before the spring session closes Friday. If not, they will have to try again next year. Prospects may be better in Louisiana, where the state Senate this week unanimously approved a bill ensuring that teachers can go beyond the biology textbook to raise criticisms of evolution. Similar bills have just been introduced in Alabama and Michigan and this week passed through a house committee in Missouri.

The bills typically restrict lessons to “scientific” criticism of evolution, or require that critiques be presented “in an objective manner,” or approved by a local school board.

Evolution’s defenders respond that there are no credible scientific critiques of evolution, any more than there are credible alternatives to the theory of gravity. The fossil record, DNA analysis and observations of natural selection confirm Darwin’s hypothesis that all life on Earth evolved from a common ancestor over four billion years.

In the scientific community, while there may be debate about the details, the grand sweep of evolution is unassailable. “There’s no controversy,” said Jay Labov, a senior adviser for education and communication with the National Academy of Sciences.

Doug Cowan, a public-school biology teacher, said his colleagues are often afraid to speak out.

Mr. Cowan said he tells students: “I’m going to give you the evidence for evolution and the evidence against, and let you decide.” For instance, he’ll mention Darwin’s observation that finches evolve different-shaped beaks to suit different ecosystems. Then he’ll add that you don’t see a finch changing into another species.

Asked what evidence he presents to bolster evolution, Mr. Cowan paused. “I don’t have any,” he said.

Mr. Cowan’s principal said that teachers are not supposed to veer from the approved textbooks. That’s why Mr. Cowan would like a legal guarantee he can teach as he sees fit.

“This is America,” Mr. Cowan said. “My gosh. Why walk on eggshells?”

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
This entry was posted in "Academic Freedom" bills '08. Bookmark the permalink.

99 Responses to Last day

  1. Pleco says:

    Mr. Cowan should be fired and stripped of his teaching credentials.

  2. firemancarl says:

    And that is the very least of what should happen Pleco

  3. Joe Meert says:

    Holy crap. No wonder science education in America is falling.

  4. terryf says:

    Doug Cowan appears to be a Discovery Institute shill.

  5. Spirula says:

    Then he’ll add that you don’t see a finch changing into another species.

    Really? Too bad no one thought of doing a long term study to see how beak morphology and speciation correlate with selective pressure.

    Oh wait, someone did.

    One thing I’ve noticed about the creationist/ID “scientist” (yeah, I know several), you don’t find them out in the field doing studies to support their no-evolution claim. Their science is all pathetic attempts to arm-chair quaterback what others have spent time and money actually doing (a.k.a. actual research).

  6. Joe Meert says:

    Looks like the bill will be heard today


    Joe Meert

  7. firemancarl says:

    die bill die!!!!!

  8. Jonathan Smith says:

    Sorry Evolution

  9. Karl says:

    Mr. Cowan’s teaching credentials should be re-evaluated. That last bit of wisdom spewing from his mouth is almost as bad as the “I’m related to this here orange lol” preacher guy from a few months ago.

  10. S.Scott says:

    OK …. They spent most of the morning listening to very looooong retirement speeches.

    The afternoon session is about to begin. I see the Governor is there.
    I understand they want to br done by 6 pm. (they went until 11 pm last night)

    More to come ..

  11. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    “The afternoon session is about to begin.”

    Begin? They took a long lunch? Anyway what are they doing now? Don’t they still have real work to do?

  12. S.Scott says:

    It’s still an ego stroking session. — Marc Rubio is up now …I think they will get back to business after he is done.

  13. Brandon Haught says:

    There actually was some business conducted this morning as the House worked through some issues sent their way by the Senate. Seeing as how the evolution bills didn’t come up then, I have hope that the House leadership decided to let the bills die. But I’m a political novice. So, the bills might still pop up at some time today.

    There was a late lunch recess, and then the House got back into session at 1:30. Yet more retirement speeches have eaten up floor time ever since. I have no idea if any real work will be done the remainder of the day.

  14. S.Scott says:

    Rubio is now preaching that God is real and you can’t pass a law that will keep him out of “This building” – “but he (low voice) doesn’t want you to force him down your throat -by the way”

  15. S.Scott says:

    He is done now and they are taking a 5 min. break.

  16. S.Scott says:

    Back to business … 3 hours left.

  17. Joe Meert says:

    it will be on the agenda.

  18. S.Scott says:

    Hays was just up talking about a dental bill.

    Yada yada yada …He said we haven’t heard about any problem of this kind except for some guy in Ohio – he hasn’t seen any problems in Florida – doesn’t understand why we are legislating this. He’s seen the science and doesn’t see a problem.

    I really hope someone there was listening to his argument and throws it back in his face.

  19. S.Scott says:

    I don’t like how they seem to be passing everything.

  20. S.Scott says:

    I think that they have only sent one bill back over to the senate with amendments. I didn’t think they could do that today.

  21. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    They wanted to quit by about six o’clock. I suspect that most of the decisions have been made, many by conversations among committee chairmen while the speeches were going on. And/or the speeches may have been timed to make the end come at close to 6, since it might look bad to quite at 3.

    But what are they doing now?

  22. Grafixer says:

    Am I mistaken, or have they concurred with every Senate amendment? (With little of NO discussion)

  23. S.Scott says:

    They seem to be saying “yes” to everything. I’ve seen only 2 bills go back to the senate with amendments.

  24. S.Scott says:

    Anyone know what the difference between senate list 1 and 2 are?

  25. S.Scott says:

    or is? ( I should say) 🙂

  26. Jonathan Smith says:

    I think we are going to see the “Tallahassee Shuffle” folks.

  27. m arie says:

    Joaathan What is the Tallahasse Shuffle?

  28. Brandon Haught says:

    Is it just me, or does it look like business is done for the day in the House here at 5:22?

  29. m arie says:

    Did it pass? Anyone?

  30. PatrickHenry says:

    Is it over? I don’t want to start cheering, and then learn that something happened at the last minute.

  31. S.Scott says:

    They started discussing business again – 5:27pm

  32. m arie says:

    S. Scott are you there?????

  33. Brandon Haught says:

    Nope, I was wrong. They’re back at it.

  34. S.Scott says:

    I have to leave in about 10 minutes – I hope one of you is watching!!!

  35. Joe Meert says:

    it will be heard in the next few minutes according to sources

  36. Joe Meert says:

    based on current action, it’s going to be ramrodded through

  37. m arie says:

    joe whats going on?

  38. Grafixer says:

    Hmmm… Only 2 bills left… “and we’ll be quick” Rubio says.
    And then they stall and talk. Hmmm…

  39. Jonathan Smith says:

    “Tallahassee Shuffle” = disingenuous politcal maneuvering

  40. m arie says:

    Thanks Jonathan

  41. Joe Meert says:

    gotta be DI’s baby.

  42. Grafixer says:

    There are 13 plus people at the podium!! What the heck is going on? And who is the woman at the center of the conversation? (smallest woman there)

  43. Grafixer says:

    Crowd is increasing. Are they just chit-chatting? Stalling? Or does it look like there is a real discussion going on?

  44. Joe Meert says:

    political posturing??

  45. m arie says:

    Grafixer Im on the edge of my chair. Whats going on?

  46. S.Scott says:

    OMG! I have to go get my son right now – I can’t believe it took this long, I’ve been watching all day – please someone, give me good notes!

  47. m arie says:

    political posturing? What do you mean?

  48. Brandon Haught says:

    The only thing is that I don’t see Hays in that knot of people.

  49. Joe Meert says:

    are those all republicans?

  50. m arie says:

    Brandon is that good?

  51. Brandon Haught says:

    Nearly 20 people up there talking. What the heck?

  52. m arie says:

    is it the death of the ugly bill?

  53. Joe Meert says:

    i see ben stein

  54. Joe Meert says:

    no wait, it’s just his money

  55. Brandon Haught says:

    I haven’t a clue who they all are or what they may be discussing.

    I’m curious as to your information source, Joe …

  56. m arie says:

    Joe you were kidding werent you?

  57. Joe Meert says:

    one of our own

  58. Grafixer says:

    Looks like a discussion at the podium… and it is off audio. Seems odd that so many reps are up there. And, they seem pretty serious. I don’t see Hays there – over 20 now.

  59. m arie says:

    Joe Meert??????

  60. Joe Meert says:

    yes, did you see my follow up, no wait it’s just his money?

  61. Joe Meert says:

    here we go

  62. Orlando_Atheist says:

    Are they hoping all the Democrats get impatient and go home?

  63. m arie says:


  64. MaryB says:

    Is this the “Sunshine law?”

  65. Joe Meert says:

    residential properties

  66. Orlando_Atheist says:

    Here she is

  67. Joe Meert says:

    last bill

  68. Orlando_Atheist says:

    Autism bill…

  69. Grafixer says:

    HA!! Last bill is about coverage for children with autism!! Did I miss something??? Are they not considering the AF bills? Did I miss it, or is it dead???

  70. Joe Meert says:

    not academic freedom!!

  71. Jonathan Smith says:

    WHAT’S HAPPENING????????????????

  72. Joe Meert says:

    Holy crap!!!!!!!!!!!

  73. Joe Meert says:

    Cubs win!!

  74. m arie says:

    Holy crap WHAT??????

  75. Brandon Haught says:

    I think we dodged the bullet!!!!!

  76. Orlando_Atheist says:


  77. Joe Meert says:

    Cubs Win!!!

  78. Grafixer says:

    Congratulations folks! Hoorah for schools in Florida. Hoorah for Science. Hoorah and Kudos to the Standards and the Writers. HOOOORAH!!!!

  79. Pete Dunkelberg says:


  80. Joe Meert says:

    Hurray for us!! Florida Citizens for Science forever!

  81. m arie says:

    You Guys are trhe BEST!!!!!

  82. MaryB says:

    House adjourned!

  83. Andrea says:

    I can’t imagine the mood at the DI tonight…

    …actually, I can.

  84. Glenn Branch says:

    Congratulations, and thanks, as always, for your sterling work defending the teaching of evolution in Florida’s public schools.

  85. Grafixer says:

    I bet Storms hasn’t felt this badly since that house was dropped on her sister! (Oh please, forgive me this one!)

  86. Joe Meert says:

    Like Arnold said, they will be back. It’s time to start mapping out a strategy to deal with this next time. This is already the second time the bill has been pushed. First time it failed in committee. I hope we are an example to other states.

  87. Orlando_Atheist says:

    And to boot, this is Rubio’s last term in the House. Two reasons to party tonight!
    I agree that we should start preparing for the next attack. Creationists are like Whack-A-Moles. You never know where they will pop up next.

  88. MelM says:


  89. m arie says:

    I guess larry/ william are pretty pissed…. GOOD

  90. Realist says:

    So will we be fighting a new bill for academic freedom next year? You know they will not stop with this.

  91. S.Scott says:

    Well it’s true what they say – a watched pot never boils! I’ve returned to GREAT NEWS! Woo Hoo!!!

  92. m arie says:

    Yes but the wind is out of thier sail.

  93. S.Scott says:

    Someone just tell me that the meeting has adjourned … it does not say that yet on the website.

  94. Joe Meert says:

    they’re all home scott

  95. Karl says:

    Unfortunately, only a strong deterrent such as legal action or forced resignations have any sort of a chance as preventing a repeat of this stupidity, and even these are not guaranteed. To these fundamentalists, faith acts like some sort of progressively degenerating disease that eats away at their sense of (political) self preservation, distorts their perception of reality, and hinders their ability of process information and retain long-term memories. Maybe “opiate of the masses” wasn’t that far off after all….

  96. S.Scott says:

    OH! YES it does!! Yay again!!

  97. Bob Calder says:

    Might I suggest that a website with each legislator’s attitude toward various big ideas in science would be practical along with their voting record on those things.

    A nice feature would be a google mashup with their districts made so that when you hit the legislator’s pushpin, you get a mailto.

    other suggestins or ideas?

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