We stopped thinking about this bit of legislative idiocy a couple of months ago, after we wrote Florida School Board Harassment Bill Passes. As you recall, both houses of the Florida legislature, in their infinite idiocy, had passed House Bill 989.
The bill allows either parents of students in the local schools, or residents of the county where the school board functions, to complain to the school board about instructional materials or books in the library, and the board has to conduct a hearing on the complaints. In other words, any creationist drooler can harass his local school board merely for having a copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species in the library. However, after giving the drooler a hearing, the decision of the school board is final.
All that remained was for the Governor to sign the thing, but that was a mere formality so we stopped paying attention. Although the bill was goofy, we tried to put a positive spin on the thing. We said:
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.
Now, for those of you who like closure for these things, there’s a new post at the website of our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). It’s titled Florida’s antiscience bill becomes law. Here are some excerpts:
Florida’s House Bill 989, aimed at empowering taxpayers to object to the use of specific instructional materials in the public schools, was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on June 26, 2017, according to the Tampa Bay Times (June 26, 2017).
We rarely disagree with anything NCSE says, but we must in this case. The bill, as passed, doesn’t refer to taxpayers. Those objecting need only be residents of the county, or parents of school children, so the qualifications for harassing the local board are very easy to meet. Any creationist church group can take advantage of the opportunity the law provides.
NCSE provides this link to the legislature’s page for the bill’s history, showing that the House passed the thing with a 94 to 25 vote, and the Senate passed it with a closer vote — 19 to 17. Here’s their link to the newspaper story: Gov. Rick Scott signs several education bills into Florida law. The newspaper casually mentions that HB 989 was one of the bills signed, but doesn’t say anything else about it.
Despite the lack of press attention, we can be assured that every drooling creationist in the state is aware of this thing, and local school boards will soon be hearing from them. Because no one can ever assume that politicians will do the right thing, educated people will need to show up at scheduled hearings to present the sane side of the argument. Yes, it’s a burden, but that’s what the legislature has done. Isn’t creationism wonderful?
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