A Florida legislator has filed a bill that would weaken the teaching of climate change and evolution in public school science classes… even though Florida has everything to lose as a result of the changing climate.
SB 330, sponsored by State Sen. Dennis Baxley, doesn’t seem all that remarkable on the surface. The only serious change to the law would be inserting the underlines portion to the state’s science standards:
Science standards must establish specific curricular content for, at a minimum, the nature of science, earth and space science, physical science, and life science. Controversial theories and concepts shall be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner.
Baxley’s definition of controversial, however, includes settled science.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said that schools need to teach “different worldviews” on issues like evolution and climate change. He asserts that textbooks now skew toward “uniformity” of thought.
“Nothing is ever settled if it’s science, because people are always questioning science,” Baxley said. “If you look at the history of human learning, for a long time the official worldview was that the world was flat. Anything you now accept as fact comes from a perspective and you learn from examining different schools of thought.”
If we ever discover that evolution isn’t the best available explanation for the existence of all life on this planet, then yes, we should absolutely inform students about the alternative. But evolution is supported by mountains of evidence. The Flat Earth is supported by the most idiotic people you can find on YouTube. There’s no contest here.
If Baxley wants alternatives to settled science taught — because he’s a Christian who doesn’t accept reality, or a conservative who doesn’t accept reality, or a Republican who doesn’t accept reality — it would come at the expense of teaching kids what experts already know is valid. There’s no controversy about, say, climate change among scientists who study the subject for a living. Much like anti-vaxxers, the only people who doubt the science are people who have a lot to gain from spreading misinformation.
The downside is that there’s a Republican majority in the House and Senate, a Republican governor, and a science advisory committee that includes science-deniers. If this bill gets signed into law, it would only serve to misinform children and make them unprepared for college. All of that would ultimately hurt Florida, a state that stands to lose environmentally and financially as the effects of climate change become more apparent than ever.