A third antiscience bill in Florida

03.01.2019

Florida's Senate Bill 1454, filed on February 27, 2019, would, if enacted, revise the state's laws concerning public school instructional materials — and possibly affect science education.

The bill is identical to House Bill 855, which, as NCSE previously reported, would require instructional materials used in Florida's public schools to "provide objective, balanced, and noninflammatory viewpoints on controversial issues." No definition of "controversial" is provided, but in light of the history of similar bills in Florida, evolution and climate change are unquestionably among the targets.

The bill also contains provisions that expand the ability of Floridians to challenge instructional materials to which they take exception. In 2017, as NCSE previously reported, Florida enacted a law that empowered Floridians to challenge instructional materials, and climate change and evolution were clearly among the targets of the new law. But no such challenges have yet succeeded.

In a detailed analysis of HB 855 in a January 17, 2019, blog post, Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens for Science wrote, "This bill is a clear and present danger to all of Florida education. It essentially gives special interest groups ... immense power to bully school boards into submission." He added, "We can't just assume that bad bills like this one will be sidelined. We have to remain vigilant and active."

SB 1454's sponsor is Debbie Mayfield (R-District 17), who cosponsored similar instructional material bills such as SB 1210 in 2017 and SB 1644 in 2018.