Florida law lets anyone challenge what’s taught in science

In summary, the new Florida law lets any resident challenge what’s taught in science classes, which some worry will make it harder to teach evolution and climate change. However, the law may also be used to challenge other instructional material, and the “unbiased hearing officer” will likely be chosen by the local school board, which will likely be filled with people with various political biases.
  • #1

Evo

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New Florida law let's any resident challenge what’s taught in science classes.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...ht-in-science-classes/?utm_term=.0104dd426ae7

Any resident in Florida can now challenge what kids learn in public schools, thanks to a new law that science education advocates worry will make it harder to teach evolution and climate change.

The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) this week and goes into effect Saturday, requires school boards to hire an “unbiased hearing officer” who will handle complaints about instructional materials, such as movies, textbooks and novels, that are used in local schools. Any parent or county resident can file a complaint, regardless of whether they have a student in the school system. If the hearing officer deems the challenge justified, he or she can require schools to remove the material in question.

But Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Council for Science Education, said that affidavits filed by supporters of the bill suggest that science instruction will be a focus of challenges. One http://floridacitizensalliance.com/liberty/init-res/scc-public-res/affidavits/17-02-02%20Cash_Mary_Ellen_Collier.pdf from a Collier County resident complained that evolution and global warming were taught as “reality.” Another criticized her child's sixth-grade science curriculum, http://floridacitizensalliance.com/liberty/init-res/scc-public-res/affidavits/Deirde_Clemons_1_Collier.pdf that “the two main theories on the origin of man are the theory of evolution and creationism,” and that her daughter had only been taught about evolution.

“It's just the candor with which the backers of the bill have been saying, 'Yeah, we’re going to go after evolution, we’re going to go after climate change,'" that has him worried, Branch said.
I'm wondering if soon teaching actual science may become optional.
 
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  • #2
Oh great.
Let's hope the "unbiased hearing officers" do a good job.
 
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  • #3
mfb said:
Oh great.
Let's hope the "unbiased hearing officers" do a good job.
I don't have much hope. The "theory" of creation?
 
  • #4
Evo said:
The "theory" of creation?
From a random parent, not from an "unbiased hearing officer".
 
  • #5
If they passed this law how "unbiased' do you think their appointees will be? I don't hold out much hope for the US mfb. :oldfrown:
 
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  • #6
I watched the latest sci-fi short, "Amendment 10/60", on the "Dust" youtube channel last night.
This thread reminded me of it.
They shot all the scientists.
I used to enjoy dystopian stories.
I don't much care for living in one.
 
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  • #7
If you want religious teaching, then enrol your child in a religious school. Leave the state schools alone.
 
  • #8
The "unbiased hearing officer" would most likely be picked by the local school board which the quote in the original post said would hire them.
Thus, the hire of such a politically charged position would be picked by a variety of local groups, some good, some bad.

On the other hand, this could be a way to challenge some other things that could use challenging, like weird history or science interpretations. Of course, doesn't mean the challenge would be successful (depends on the "unbiased hearing officer").
 
  • #9
Unbiased in connection with a political task, which I think it is, is a contradiction in itself.
 
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  • #10
12715598_954176497971344_5879282649314743078_n.jpg
 
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  • #11
StevieTNZ said:
If you want religious teaching, then enrol your child in a religious school. Leave the state schools alone.

It does seem this is a definite conflict between separation of church and state. Does anybody know of any non religious group that supports creationism or is anti evolution? Might we expect this law to be challenged in the courts?

But there may be legitimate issues to be addressed. e.g., there may be a definite concerns for parents about what literature, topics, views are discussed in schools . Parents want their children to heed their own views (as much as possible) and usually influence them on a daily basis in any event. But we do resent them being exposed to philosophies or world views that we do not approve or believe to be harmful . Teacher (like most of us) often have a tendency to present material that is biased, whether it is a lit teachers choice of authors/subject, or a history teacher's emphasis/interpretations on/of certain issues, or in the case of a poli-sci teacher's summer reading list of conservative/right-wing writers/pundits that was pulled by the Alabama school administration after complaints by parents.

That said, parents cannot control all that our kid are exposed to when they leave the house especially with the internet opening up so much diversity in thought and view. Their job is really to help them navigate safely through the perils of our present day political/economic/social milieu. This means knowing the issues they face and teaching/recommending methods in, as best we can, avoiding those perils.

We continually pass laws that promote what we complain so much about, government interference in our lives .
 
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  • #12
Since this thread is clearly about politics and current events, does that mean that section will be re-opened? Or does it mean we should discuss in GD?
 
  • #13
Vanadium 50 said:
Since this thread is clearly about politics and current events, does that mean that section will be re-opened? Or does it mean we should discuss in GD?
See the rules for this forum:
Evo said:
3) Political posts outside of education and science policy are banned.
Political decisions about education and science were excluded in the recent rule change.
 
  • #14
Fanaticism of any flavor is IMHO mental illness.

Fundamentalist Creationism kooks and ACLU radical kooks protesting Ten Commandment monuments in the town square are of the same ilk -
Little Bigshot Wannabes.

To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance. Eric Hoffer
 
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  • #15
jim hardy said:
Fanaticism of any flavor is IMHO mental illness.

Fundamentalist Creationism kooks and ACLU radical kooks protesting Ten Commandment monuments in the town square are of the same ilk -
Little Bigshot Wannabes.

:ok::thumbup::peacesign:

"Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right..."
Stealers Wheels - Stuck In The Middle With You, ≈1973​

Not sure why I'm stuck on music today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuck_in_the_Middle_with_You
"Stuck in the Middle with You" (sometimes known as "Stuck in the Middle") is a song written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan and originally performed by their band Stealers Wheel.

I did not know that Gerry had a part in the creation of that song.
No idea who Joe Egan is.

ps. I was 14 years old in 1973, so I'm using that as an excuse for not knowing who Joe Egan is.
 
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  • #16
As I understand it, the Florida Law is an attempt for a remedy for the lack of standing for any of its citizenry to sue. In the past, if someone thought the curriculum was inappropriate, they could sue only if they were a student, or a parent representing a student. Nobody else had standing. I couldn't, for example, lodge a suit claiming that my local school district was teaching that the Earth was flat, even though I pay taxes and have an interest in a well-educated citizenry. The courts argument is "take this up at the ballot box". (If I had a child in school, then I would have standing) This is an attempt to fix that.

What's wrong with that?

The argument I am hearing is that "the political process might return an outcome I don't like". Welcome to democracy.
 
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  • #17
Vanadium 50 said:
The argument I am hearing is that "the political process might return an outcome I don't like". Welcome to democracy.
How is it democracy if a single person is assigned to decide about the legitimacy of a complaint? The question is, how this "unbiased" person will be determined. And what is more likely: that they will teach flat Earth and receive an appeal or that they teach evolution and receive one? And how can scientific knowledge be subject to a political process, democratic or not?
 
  • #18
Vanadium 50 said:
As I understand it, the Florida Law is an attempt for a remedy for the lack of standing for any of its citizenry to sue. In the past, if someone thought the curriculum was inappropriate, they could sue only if they were a student, or a parent representing a student. Nobody else had standing. I couldn't, for example, lodge a suit claiming that my local school district was teaching that the Earth was flat, even though I pay taxes and have an interest in a well-educated citizenry. The courts argument is "take this up at the ballot box". (If I had a child in school, then I would have standing) This is an attempt to fix that.

What's wrong with that?
hmmmm... I'm sure you've heard the expression; "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The argument I am hearing is that "the political process might return an outcome I don't like". Welcome to democracy.
Worst case scenario is that this will turn into a tit for tat war of several billion ideologies.

Creationist parent; "I don't like evolution, so they shouldn't teach it."
Evolutionist parent; "I don't like creationism, so they shouldn't teach it."

Capitalist parent; "The social studies teacher has a copy of 'Pravda' in his classroom, so they shouldn't teach that."
Communist parent: "The social studies teacher has a copy of 'The John Birch Society' in his classroom, so they shouldn't teach that."​

continue ad absurdum, and...

Future kids sit in the classroom for 8 hours in silence, staring at a blank whiteboard.​

I say, let's teach everything!, as I'm still a big fan of the "7-Up" social experiment.
And hence, it doesn't really matter what you try and teach young people, as they are products of their parents biases, and little you try and do, will change their minds, for the most part.
 
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  • #19
OmCheeto said:
Worst case scenario is that this will turn into a tit for tat war of several billion ideologies.

Creationist parent; "I don't like evolution, so they shouldn't teach it."
Evolutionist parent; "I don't like creationism, so they shouldn't teach it."

Capitalist parent; "The social studies teacher has a copy of 'Pravda' in his classroom, so they shouldn't teach that."
Communist parent: "The social studies teacher has a copy of 'The John Birch Society' in his classroom, so they shouldn't teach that."
continue ad absurdum, and...

i guess that's why we are a republic .

BTW 7-Up is one of the most meaningful things i can remember ever seeing on TV.
 
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  • #20
fresh_42 said:
How is it democracy if a single person is assigned to decide about the legitimacy of a complaint?

A. I should have said "Welcome to democratic republicanism and representative democracy." But is mouthful.
B. This happens all the time - every Supreme Court 5-4 split and every bench trial. If this is a bad idea, it should have been a bad idea before this particular law.
C. People who previously had no input into the decision-making process now have some. This seems to push in the direction of more democracy, not less.

Under the old law, I couldn't complain about nonsense being taught in science class. Now I can. Is this not a good thing? As I said before, the concern seems to be that by opening up the process and making it more democratic that we will lose.
 
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  • #21
Vanadium 50 said:
A. I should have said "Welcome to democratic republicanism and representative democracy." But is mouthful.
B. This happens all the time - every Supreme Court 5-4 split and every bench trial. If this is a bad idea, it should have been a bad idea before this particular law.
C. People who previously had no input into the decision-making process now have some. This seems to push in the direction of more democracy, not less.

Under the old law, I couldn't complain about nonsense being taught in science class. Now I can. Is this not a good thing? As I said before, the concern seems to be that by opening up the process and making it more democratic that we will lose.
The problem is, as I see it, that the people that are most likely to take advantage of this law are not the reasonable people, no, it's the unreasonable people that want to shut down everything and anything that disagrees with their viewpoint.

We'll see who uses this law. Want to place a bet? :smile:
 
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  • #22
Vanadium 50 said:
As I said before, the concern seems to be that by opening up the process and making it more democratic that we will lose.
Which I think is true. As I said before, it all comes down to the election process of the person in question. To compare the situation with the SC, which is constituted by highly educated lawyers, regardless what I think about certain members, is a bit far fetched: we don't speak about a university board here.

And to be honest, I cannot see a reasonable justification that persons without any direct interest in the education process, like representatives of students, i.e. parents, should be allowed to judge over those affected. But I admit, that this is given by the fact that I generally find that far too many old men have a say in other people's lives. To me it opens more bad doors than it closes wrong ones. Again, what is the likelihood of flat earthers as teachers and what of people objecting evolution?
 
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  • #23
The biggest dilemma for creationists demanding equal time in the science curriculum is when non Christian creationists take the same liberty and push Christian creationism into equal time with basically thousands of other creation stories from thousands of other cultures..
 
  • #24
fresh_42 said:
And to be honest, I cannot see a reasonable justification that persons without any direct interest in the education process, like representatives of students, i.e. parents, should be allowed to judge over those affected.

Fair enough. I disagree. I think that as a taxpayer and someone with an interest in an educated populace, I should have a say in what is taught. And I think the majority of the people participating on this thread feel as I do, otherwise, why participate? Plop it in the laps of the kid's parents.

Evo said:
The problem is, as I see it, that the people that are most likely to take advantage of this law are not the reasonable people, no, it's the unreasonable people

It's sounding like you are agreeing with me. But is "democracy is OK when our side wins, but needs to be curtailed when the other side is ahead" really a good policy?
 
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  • #25
What I'm saying is that our children should be taught "real science". There is no room in PUBLIC education for teaching religion and myths as an ALTERNATIVE TRUTH to real science, that's for you and your church if that's what YOU want. Do not confuse MY child with YOUR BELIEFS. That's for you to do to YOUR children. Don't mess with mine.
 
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  • #26
Vanadium 50 said:
I think that as a taxpayer and someone with an interest in an educated populace, I should have a say in what is taught.
Do you also demand a voice in the many, many positions a government's budget is made of: whether to repair certain roads, staff public schools and so on and so on, not to mention the "hot" topics? We all take advantage of living in a representative democracy in which we elect politicians and others to make the decisions and choices. In case of doubt I'd rather lift regulations than to invent new ones. And a more direct democracy can go terribly wrong as several demagogues in history have proven. Da.., even the indirect version can go terribly wrong as the history of my country has taught us. The supreme courts are there for good reason: they are the last bastion of the constitution as politicians cannot always be trusted.
Vanadium 50 said:
And I think the majority of the people participating on this thread feel as I do, otherwise, why participate?
Yes, of course, and me, too, has an opinion on education systems. But does this have to mean, that anyone should try to push their political agenda based on zero qualification, just because they think they have the right to do so.

Well, seems we disagree on methods, but certainly not on goals.
 
  • #27
How did the process look like before the recent change? Was there an “unbiased hearing officer” for complaints from parents? If not, how were complaints handled?
If that changed, it is probably the more important point, not the recent change who can file complaints.
 
  • #28
mfb said:
How did the process look like before the recent change? Was there an “unbiased hearing officer” for complaints from parents? If not, how were complaints handled?
If that changed, it is probably the more important point, not the recent change who can file complaints.
In the US things are handled differently from state to state, county to county, city to city, even school districts within cities. Usually complaints are handled by local school boards. This is how the Flying Spaghetti Monster was created, if you are familiar with that.

The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.[9] In the letter, Henderson demanded equal time in science classrooms for "Flying Spaghetti Monsterism", alongside intelligent design and evolution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster
 
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  • #29
If the local school board has more than one person, the recent change to a single person looks like a setback.
 
  • #30
mfb said:
If the local school board has more than one person, the recent change to a single person looks like a setback.
I would think so.
 
  • #31
Isn;t there still a department of education in Florida that sets standards for school boards to follow.
I find it difficult to navigate and find things on the legislative site, but...

I think this is statute Statute 1003.41 ( still in effect I presume or has this statute changed also )
(2) Next Generation Sunshine State Standards must meet the following requirements:
(a) English Langauge Arts standards must establish specific curricular content for, at a minimum, reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language.
(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.
(c) Mathematics standards must establish specific curricular content for, at a minimum, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability, number and quantity, functions, and modeling.
...
(3) The Commissioner of Education, as needed, shall develop and submit proposed revisions to the standards for review and comment by Florida educators, school administrators, representatives of the Florida College System institutions and state universities who have expertise in the content knowledge and skills necessary to prepare a student for postsecondary education and careers, business and industry leaders, and the public. The commissioner, after considering reviews and comments, shall submit the proposed revisions to the State Board of Education for adoption.
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Secti...ntType=StatRev&PublicationType=S&BillId=58685
 

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