Nature covers Florida

02.26.2018

Florida's House Bill 827 and Senate Bill 1644 — similar bills that would make it easier for creationists and climate change deniers to smuggle instructional materials they favor into public school classrooms — were front and center in a recent report (February 23, 2018) in the journal Nature on legislation targeting the integrity of science education.

"They would make it easier for creationists, climate-change deniers and — who knows — flat-Earthers to pester their local school boards about their hobbyhorse," NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch was quoted as saying. He noted that key terms in the bills such as "balanced" and "noninflammatory" are not defined.

Also mentioned were Florida's House Bill 825 and Senate Bill 966, which would, if enacted, require "[c]ontroversial theories and concepts ... [to] be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner," while allowing local school districts to use either the state science standards or alternatives "equivalent to or more rigorous than" them.

Here, too, Branch was wary of key but undefined terms in the bills, noting that "we're not told how to measure rigour" (in comparing alternative standards to the state science standards), and asking, "When we teach that the Earth is round, are we imbalanced if we don't teach that the Earth is flat?" 

Both HB 827 and SB 1644 were passed by the education committees of their respective houses in February 2018; HB 827 is apparently scheduled for a second reading on the House's calendar, while SB 1644 is in the Senate Rules Committee. Neither HB 825 nor SB 966 has yet received a hearing in committee.