Florida School Board Harassment Bill Is Now Law

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?

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Florida School Board Harassment Bill Is Now Law

  1. techreseller

    One thing you can say for the creationists, is that they are persistent. Who cares what it costs the taxpayers? Who cares if you lag in education, jobs, and investment. Keep those kids from learning non Christian doctrine.

  2. “local school boards will soon be hearing from them”
    My faith in our dear SC to keep us informed on these issues remains unshaken.

  3. Start a list of objectionable materials, preferably those that creationists would rather not see challenged. Bring those up for objection, one at a time; bring the whole “review” process to a crawl, carefully adhering to the letter of the law. If the creationists can use this law, so can we.

  4. Eric Lipps

    The problem is that cranks tend to highly motivated when it comes to their particular obsessions, while sensible people aren’t nearly as driven. Therefore, opening the door to textbook objectors in this way offers a free pass to wackos and ideologues of every stripe, not just creationists.

  5. Whoops; you are correct about taxpayers versus residents. (The bill was amended several times during its passage through the legislature, and we were probably thinking of a previous version.) NCSE’s story will be corrected.

  6. “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.”

    But not only that.

    Challenges are not limited to the Science curriculum

    Vigilant citizens could challenge revisionist history and whitewashing in History, Civics, Economics, Sociology and Political Science classes.

    Conscientious monitors could challenge abstinence-only sex ed.

    Etc.

  7. What I want to know whether it would apply also to sports. Can we complain about baseball, football and basketball awarding the victory to the highest score, while in track, swimming and golf, it is the lowest.