On Tuesday, Governor Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 989. The bill, backed by activists opposed to the teaching of evolution and climate change, undermines science education in the public school system. More details below.
“Instructional Materials; Revises district school board responsibilities relating to review & adoption of public K-12 instructional materials; authorizes county residents to challenge use or adoption of instructional materials; revises requirements relating to public hearing for adoption of such materials; revises annual allocation for purchase of instructional materials.” (HB 989)
By Glenn Branch for NSCE
“The strategies of creationists have gotten more sophisticated.” – Glenn Branch
Florida’s House Bill 989, aimed at empowering taxpayers to object to the use of specific instructional materials in the public schools, was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on June 26, 2017, according to the Tampa Bay Times (June 26, 2017). The bill was previously passed by both chambers of the Florida legislature in April and May 2017.
As NCSE previously reported, climate change and evolution were clearly among the targets of HB 989. Supporters of the bill submitted affidavits that complained, “I have witnessed students being taught evolution as fact … rather than theory … I have witnessed children being taught that Global Warming is a reality.”
With the law now in place, any county resident — not just any parent with a child in the country’s public schools, as was the case previously — can now file a complaint about instructional materials in the county’s public schools, and the school will now have to appoint a hearing officer to hear the complaint.
Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens for Science commented on the organization’s blog (June 26, 2017), “This means our fight is only just now beginning. Each and every one of us has to be on alert. You must keep an eye on your local school board and everyone who brings forth a complaint about textbooks. If you don’t, we truly lose.”
Haught also expressed concern that a recently enacted “religious liberties” law — Senate Bill 436 — would be wielded in conjunction with HB 989 to undermine evolution education in Florida, citing a Frontline article (May 8, 2017) that quoted a backer of both bills as vowing to do just that.