A warning from Florida

Writing in the Orlando Sentinel (January 19, 2018), Brandon Haught was blunt: "Science education in Florida's public schools is facing an unprecedented assault that started last year and has the high potential to escalate this year. Evolution and climate change are the targets of a coordinated attack as detractors of these concepts seek to balance lessons with some forms of creationism or denial of human-caused climate change."

In his column, Haught warned of the effects that a new law that "expands the ability of citizens to challenge public schools instructional materials that they don't like" are already having on science education around the state. Two bills currently under consideration by the legislature, Senate Bill 1644 and House Bill 827, would worsen the situation by allowing citizens to propose their own recommendations for instructional materials.

A further pair of bills, Senate Bill 966 and House Bill 825, constitute "a much more direct attack on science education," according to Haught. These bills would allow districts to adopt their own set of science standards, in which "[c]ontroversial theories and concepts must be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner." Although no particular theories and concepts are specified, evolution and climate change are likely to be the targets.

Haught concluded, "It's important to stand up in support of sound science education. Will you stand with us?" The communications director and a founding board member of the grassroots Florida Citizens for Science, Haught is a public high school science teacher, the author of Going Ape: Florida's Battle over Evolution in the Classroom (University Press of Florida, 2014) and a recipient of NCSE's Friend of Darwin award.