The strange bill we wrote about back in February — see More Weird Legislation Proposed in Florida — has become law. Well, it’s awaiting the Governor’s signature.
As you may recall, this thing is different from the usual Discoveroid “strengths and weaknesses” bill. We quoted our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) who said:
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.
Despite objections from rational groups, the legislature passed the law. NCSE just posted Antiscience bill passed in Florida. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
A Florida bill aimed at empowering taxpayers to object to the use of specific instructional materials in the public schools, with climate change and evolution clearly among the targets, is now headed to Governor Rick Scott’s desk for a signature. The bill in question is House Bill 989, which the House of Representatives passed in April 2017. A similar bill, Senate Bill 1210, was making its way through the Senate, but was abandoned in favor of HB 989, which the Senate then passed on a 19-17 vote on May 5, 2017.
Here’s a link to the final bill, which shows all the changes that were made as it worked its way through the legislature.
NCSE is concerned that school boards will be bombarded with complaints by people who want certain books banned because they object to their contents. The statute says that those who complain can either be parents of students in the local schools, or residents of the county where the school board functions. In other words, any creationist drooler can harass his local school board. However, after giving the drooler a hearing, the decision of the school board is final.
Naturally, there is reason to worry about creationist campaigns seeking to ban texts that don’t agree with their religious beliefs. However, your Curmudgeon thinks that there may be some good in this legislation.
What possible good do we see? Consider this. Those who complain about educational materials aren’t required to be creationists. They can also be rational, science-minded persons and groups. Therefore, if creationist materials are being used in school, the procedures described in the new legislation allow sensible people to object to such materials. In other words, although the creationists probably didn’t intend it, this law is a two-edged sword.
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