Climate change censored in Florida science textbooks

Everglades National Park, Florida.

Everglades National Park, Florida. Photo by Brice Cooper on Unsplash.

"Textbook authors were told last month that some references to 'climate change' must be removed from science books before they could be accepted for use in Florida's public schools, according to two of those authors," the Orlando Sentinel reported (July 5, 2024).

Kenneth R. Miller, coauthor of a popular high school biology textbook (and president of NCSE's board of directors) told the Sentinel that the state department of education asked him to defend his textbook's statements that human activity is responsible for recent climate change.

Meanwhile, he added, all references to earth science — including those addressing climate change — were removed from a 90-page section of a high school chemistry textbook issued by his publisher, Savvas, before it was approved.

Although three publishers submitted textbooks for high school environmental science classes for state approval, which would be expected to include extensive discussion of climate change, none of these appeared on the list of approved science textbooks (PDF).

NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch told the Sentinel that the department's actions will "make Florida climate education even worse than it is," adding, "These ill-considered actions are going to cheat Florida students."

Brandon Haught, a high school environmental science teacher in Volusia County (and a recipient of NCSE's Friend of Darwin award), emphasized that Florida's students need more information about climate change, not less.

Responding to the initial posting of the Sentinel's story, a spokesperson for the department of education e-mailed a statement to the newspaper, which, however, "did not directly address questions about science textbooks and climate change."

A satiric opinion column in the Palm Beach Post (July 9, 2024) applauded the department's actions on behalf of FOOLS — Floridians Organized to Obstruct Learning Science — and called upon the department to demand further revisions.

Among the column's suggestions: requiring publishers to explain that "God is wiping out frogs to let us know that we have to do a better job of banning books in school libraries and diverting more public money to religious schools."

A subsequent opinion column in the Sentinel (July 9, 2024) complained, with reference to the department's censorship, "Florida is now approaching science and education like a 2-year-old: If you don't like something, just pretend it doesn't exist."

The Sentinel column concluded, "And when those raising red flags about scientific censorship include the president of the board of the National Center for Science Education, that's reason to be concerned."

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.