A new bill filed with the Florida State Legislature would allow schools to develop their own standards for education, presuming they are equal to or more rigorous than the state’s standards. Also within the bill, SB303 is a condition that would require schools to teach alternatives to “controversial theories” – a shot across the bow to teaching evolution and climate change in public schools. Unsurprisingly, this bill was written by the Florida Citizens Alliance. According to The Miami Herald, Keith Flaugh, head of Florida Citizens Alliance and now education advisor to Gov. DeSantis, says these changes are completely necessary because the current science education in Florida is “political and religious indoctrination.”
The exact wording from SB303:
(b) 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 shall be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Dennis Baxley didn’t follow Flaugh’s example attacking the current curriculum, instead, according to the Herald, Baxley couched his reasoning behind the legislative shift in an overt misunderstanding of the issues at hand.
“Nothing is ever settled if it’s science, because people are always questioning science,” Baxley said. “If you look at the history of human learning, for a long time the official worldview was that the world was flat. Anything you now accept as fact comes from a perspective and you learn from examining different schools of thought.”
But if we still taught children in science class that the earth is round, except for the celebrities and internet trolls who believe it is flat, we wouldn’t develop the great minds able to make new discoveries in science. We’d just have more kids who only half paid attention, trying to walk to the edge of the planet to look over. Or as Brendan Haught, a founding board member of Florida Citizens for Science and a high school science teacher, put it when discussing the bill with the Herald, “In K-12, keep in mind, we’re laying the basic foundation for the rest of their lives … I want to teach them science, period,” he said. “We only have a handful of days for dedicated lessons on this topic [climate change], so I don’t have time to say, ‘This is what other people think.’ ”
Attacking evolution and climate change are not the only purposes of this bill. It also offers interesting language in the subject of social studies. According to SB 303,
Government and civics content shall strictly adhere to the founding values and principles of the United States
According to Flaugh, “They’re actually undermining our principles and values,” Flaugh said. “One of the biggest things they do is they’re teaching our kids that the Electoral College is out-of-date. That’s the only vestige of our Constitutional Republic that’s left.”
For any who think that this bill stands no shot of passing, it was in 2017 that Florida Citizens Alliance first came to national notice with their preposterous textbook bill HB989, allowing any citizen to challenge a public school textbook. The plan was to challenge any textbook that didn’t present climate change, evolution, history, Islam, or anything else in a way they didn’t agree with, jamming school with extra work and expense. The bill passed and is now a reality in Florida.
According to The Miami Herald Flaugh told them,
“I’ve been doing this for six years,” he said. “And I’m more optimistic now than I’ve ever been.”
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