The Florida Senate today passed a bill (already approved by the State House) that will make it easier for residents of the state — not just elected officials or parents of students — to challenge instructional material. While that sounds fairly broad, this bill has always been about creating an easier path for anti-science kooks to challenge the teaching of evolution and climate change.
And remember: this is Florida. There’s no shortage of people who will take advantage of the new bill, which now awaits a signature from climate denier Gov. Rick Scott.
The National Center for Science Education points out the main concern here:
[Florida Citizens for Science’s Brandon] Haught warned there that if the bills became law, “school boards will become inundated with demands that certain books be banned and that schools must discontinue using textbooks that don’t mesh with a vocal minority’s ideological views.”
While the bill’s proponents said this was all about providing “balance” to what kids are taught, we all know what they really mean:
“’Balance’ is a code word for ‘censor,'” [executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship Joan Bertin] said. “It means they don’t like what is being taught, and they want something else being taught.”
Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association, a teachers union, said, “Our biggest concern is that people with a political viewpoint may be able to get stuff tossed out that is sound educationally but unacceptable to some.”
Scott hasn’t said if he’ll sign the bill, but he’s never been a friend to the science community, so don’t hold your breath waiting for him to do the right thing.
At this point, Florida residents who care about science need to pay attention to what their local school boards are doing so that they’re not swayed by science deniers looking to change the curriculum to make it more compatible with their faith or hoping to align it with whatever Donald Trump‘s administration is spouting.
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