Like most states in the US, the Florida legislature isn’t in session right now, but bills can be pre-filed for the next session which begins in January. We learned about this one in the Orlando Sentinal of Orlando, Florida. Their headline is Sen. Baxley files school bill to require ‘controversial’ science topics be taught in ‘balanced’ way, and they have a comments section. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Sen. Dennis Baxley, who once said controversy over evolution being taught in public schools “will never be over,” wants to make Florida school districts teach “controversial theories” in science subjects in a “balanced” manner. Baxley, an Ocala Republican, filed a bill Friday that would alter Florida’s academic standards in several key ways.
His bill would give the state’s 67 school districts the power to adopt academic standards as long as they were as rigorous as Florida’s. Florida has had statewide standards since 1977. Local districts uses those state-mandated standards to devises [sic] lessons and courses. Baxely’s bill (SB 966) also would mandate that in science classes “controversial theories and concepts must be taught in a factual, objective and balanced manner.” Such language has long been used by those opposed to the teaching of evolution.
The legislature’s main page for his bill is here: SB 966, and you can read the text of his bill here. It would amend the science standards legislation in Florida by adding some window dressing language about “rigorous” standards, and then there’s some creationist language he wants added too. This is the relevant existing part of the existing law, with Baxley’s addition shown in bold font:
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 must be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner.
Jeepers, what “controversial theories” is he referring to? It’s no mystery. The Orlando Sentinel tells us:
The State Board of Education in 2008 adopted Florida’s current science standards, requiring for the first time that evolution be taught in public schools. The standards call the theory of evolution the “fundamental concept underlying all of biology” and one that it is “supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.”
Baxley, then executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, said at the time he wanted scientists to “leave the door open a little bit” for the consideration of other evidence about how life on earth developed.
After the vote [adopting the existing standards], he told Education Week, “The controversy will never be over … It’s another step in a long saga of this discussion. There will be a number of scientific perspectives put forward as the years go on, and a number of religious and other perspectives.”
So there you are. The creationist legislative battles for 2018 have already begin. Stay tuned to this blog!
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