You may recall a few weeks ago when we wrote Florida Bills Allow Religion in Public Schools. Although they weren’t the typical bills inspired by the Discovery Institute, we thought they were worth mentioning. We quoted the Orlando Sentinel, which said:
Florida needs a new law to protect “religious expression in public schools” and to make sure students aren’t discriminated against, if they share religious beliefs in their school work, according to two state lawmakers. Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala and Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, filed the bills (SB 436, HB 303) to create a new “religious liberties act.”
The identical bills say, among other things, that students could not be penalized for expressing religious views in “coursework, artwork or other written and oral assignments” and must have their work judged based on academic standards not religious content.
That was bad enough, but now Florida has taken another step backwards. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). just posted Antiscience bills in Florida. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
A pair of bills introduced in the Florida legislature — House Bill 989 and Senate Bill 1210 — are ostensibly aimed at empowering taxpayers to object to the use of specific instructional materials in the public schools, for example on the grounds that they fail to provide “a noninflammatory, objective, and balanced viewpoint on issues.” There is reason to believe that evolution and climate change are among the targets.
NCSE mentions that two similar bills were introduced in Florida and failed in 2016. We wrote about them here: Florida Creationism: New Bills for 2016. But this year’s effort is a bit different. NCSE says:
Currently, Florida parents unhappy with instructional materials are entitled to complain to their local school board, whose decision is final. HB 899 and SB 1018 in 2016 would have allowed any taxpayer to complain to the local school board, and moreover allow the appeal of a negative result to a circuit court to seek damages and/or injunctive relief. HB 989 and SB 1210 in 2017 would allow any taxpayer to complain, but not allow a further appeal.
If last year’s bills passed and had become law, Ma and Pa Drool could have taken their passion for creationism to court. This year’s bills don’t provide that option. No loss, really — such suits are certain to fail. Anyway, dropping the litigation option is an improvement — but it may be the only improvement. Other parts of this year’s bills are every bit as bad as before.
NCSE tells us:
Currently, instructional materials used in Florida’s schools must be consistent with the state science standards. HB 989 and SB 1210, like their predecessors, would allow that instructional materials may be alternatively be consistent with “standards that are equivalent to or better than the applicable state standards.” No criteria for assessing the relative quality of standards are provided.
No standards at all — that’s great! Deranged teachers will have the opportunity to jam Noah’s Ark into the classroom. Or intelligent design. Both Hambo and the Discoveroids should approve of this legislative effort.
Well, dear reader, that’s the latest from Florida. Interestingly, the legislature in that state is still getting organized. They won’t officially convene until 07 March, and they’ll stay in session until 05 May. We’ll be watching.
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