Recently in Florida Category

Brandon Haught at Florida Citizens for Science does a deeper dive on the educational assessments coming out of the Florida Department of Education (DOE). The DOE says that student performance in science improved by a percentage point this past year. Haught shows that they redefined science performance in order to have an improvement, no matter how slight.

The Honors program at the University of Central Florida has a documentary film class whose previous projects have been well-received. Now, they are crowdsourcing funding for their latest project, “Filthy Dreamers”. This one is about antievolution efforts in Florida following the 1925 Scopes trial.

In the late 1920’s a controversy sparked about the teaching of evolution to women students at Florida State Women’s College. Nearly 100 years later, public figures and activists are still trying to control curriculum in public schools, colleges and universities. The students enrolled in this Honors class through the University of Central Florida aim to educate and inform our viewers about the long history of censorship in the classrooms, the libraries and around the campus.

Please check it out.

Florida Citizens for Science points to the existence of a new group, Citizens for Objective Public Education, and says,

I have an assignment for you folks. The national science standards that many states, including Florida, are considering adopting are predictably under fire due to the prominence of evolution in the draft document. Kansas has hit the news first, firing the initial shot: Kan. official wants evolution concerns considered,

referring to an AP release which is posted in somewhat longer form here. According to an AP release datelined Topeka,

According to a recent tally by the ever-vigilant National Center for Science Education, nine anti-science bills have been introduced in various states since January. Most of them use the “critical analysis” ploy, also known as the “strengths and weaknesses” ploy. Some bills specifically state that teachers may not be penalized in any manner for “helping” students to understand the strengths and weaknesses of evolution. Most recently, the Tennessee House passed a bill that would allow teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review … the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.” By an odd coincidence, the scientific theories with which students evidently need the most help include evolution, global warming, origin of life, and human cloning, just those topics which so bemuse the extreme right. Where, you may ask, is homeopathy or “alternative” medicine, subjects that are desperately in need of critical analysis? Certainly not singled out in any of the bills. You may read more details and find relevant links at the NCSE website.

As predicted by Joe Meert, Florida’s legislature is once again considering antievolution legislation. This particular attempt is done as a change to a law rather than as a standalone effort.

And the strategy in this one is to label it “critical analysis”, like Ohio did in 2002.

See the Florida Citizens for Science blog for further coverage and advice on activism.

(More at the Austringer.)

Florida has more sense than Texas


According to a short article in the Orlando Sentinel, a textbook publisher has agreed to remove 2 pages that include creationist material from editions of a high school textbook sold in Florida. Apparently, the textbook contains a box, or sidebar, that makes a number of errors and also states some incorrect creationist claims (please excuse me if that phrase is redundant). I do not know the history, but it looks as though Joe Wolf, the president of Florida Citizens for Science, alerted the Florida Department of Education, which in turn took action. The National Center for Science Education reports,

Florida state senator Stephen Wise has introduced SB 2396, amending a law that is mostly about teaching civics. He makes critical analysis of evolution item (a) and moves all the other items down one letter. The old (a) becomes (b) and so forth. Evolution is evidently the only topic requiring critical analysis. Coincidentally “critical analysis” is code for “teach creationism”. It didn’t work in Ohio once the trick was discovered, but hope springs eternal. By another coincidence Senator Wise recently wanted to teach ID, another code word for creationism.

Update below the fold

Florida: Reliving the Past


State senator Stephen Wise plans to introduce a bill requiring balanced treatment for “intelligent design” whenever evolutionary science is taught in Florida’s science classrooms.

Of course, “balanced treatment” and “equal time” bills for “creation science” led to the 1987 SCOTUS decision in Edwards v. Aguillard that ruled “creation science” as unconstitutional. Wise’s bill, if worded as stated in the article, is likely to provide a complementary court case for “intelligent design”.

(See the Florida Citizens for Science post on this, and the original post at the Austringer)

The Florida legislature failed to pass either of two forms of the Discovery Institute’s draft “academic freedom” bills, and adjourned Friday evening. We have until the legislative session next year to make sure that those in the legislature know exactly what the history and intent of bills like that are. But it doesn’t feel like a “win”; those of us who invested our time in advocating for good science education in Florida essentially got lucky this time.

The “academic freedom” and “critical analysis” bills currently being considered by the Florida legislature are old stratagems borrowed from antievolution efforts in other states. Ronda Storms and Alan Hays have been asked whether “intelligent design” could be taught in science classrooms. Storms and Hays steadfastly refuse to answer the question posed. You have to look at what has been done in the name of narrow religious antievolution and not what is said.

(Originally at the Austringer.)

On Monday, April 14th, Florida Citizens for Science, the Florida ACLU, and many other groups sponsored a press conference and panel discussion criticizing the “academic freedom” and “critical analysis” bills currently filed in the state Senate and House, respectively. The bill in the senate, the one still misusing the “academic freedom” phrase, is scheduled to go to the floor on the 17th. That will be today very shortly. I am not terribly optimistic about the outcome, since it seems that the legislators didn’t bother to turn out for the events on Monday, and the mainstream media invented some stuff out of whole cloth, but mostly failed to report on the full range of reasons why the bills under consideration are bad for Florida’s schools, students, parents, and business.

I’ll summarize what was actually said at the press conference. The segments may incorporate both paraphrased and verbatim passages.

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