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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2017/12/01

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A second antiscience bill is prefiled in Florida. News about the
effect of Florida's new instructional materials challenge law. And a
blog post by NCSE staff is republished in a special edition of
Scientific American.


Florida's House Bill 825, prefiled on November 28, 2017, 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.

There is no indication in the bill about which "theories and concepts"
are deemed to be "controversial," much less any guidance about
adjudicating disputes about which are and which are not.

But House Bill 825 is the counterpart of Senate Bill 966, prefiled von
November 17, 2017, which -- as NCSE previously reported -- was
introduced by Dennis Baxley (R-District 12), who has a record of
antievolution advocacy both within and outside the Florida state
legislature. HB 825's sole sponsor is Charlie Stone (R-District 22).

For the text of Florida's House Bill 825 as introduced, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit: 


The effects of Florida's new law making it easier for creationists and
climate change deniers to harass their local school districts are
already manifesting, according to a report from the Associated Press
(November 18, 2017).

Enacted in June 2017, the law, as NCSE previously reported, allows any
county resident -- not just parents as previously -- to challenge
instructional materials used in the public schools, and requires the
school districts to establish a formal process to hear such
complaints, including appointing an "unbiased and qualified hearing
officer" not "an employee or agent of the school district."

The Associated Press sent public records requests to all sixty-seven
of the state's school districts, asking for complaints filed during
2017. "Seven reported receiving at least one," including a complaint
in Brevard County that elementary school social studies textbooks are
engaged in "blatant indoctrination" by asserting that global warming
is caused by human activity, and a complaint in Nassau County
challenging the teaching of evolution there.

The president of the Florida Association of District School
Superintendents described the new law as "cumbersome" and unnecessary,
according to the Associated Press, while "Brandon Haught, spokesman
for Florida Citizens for Science, which opposed the bill, said his
group is prepared to fight any challenges made against the teaching of
evolution and climate change, which nearly all biologists and
climatologists agree are proven facts."

A recent post (November 27, 2017) by Haught at Florida Citizens for
Science's blog details the current challenges to science education in
Florida and describes what concerned Floridians can do to help.

For the Associated Press story (via the South Florida Times), visit: 

For the text of the law (PDF), visit: 

For Brandon Haught's post at Florida Citizens for Science's blog, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit: 


NCSE's Glenn Branch and Ann Reid's "50 Years Ago: Repeal of
Tennessee's 'Monkey Law'" was selected for inclusion in "The Science
Behind the Debates," a special edition of Scientific American dated
December 2017.

Taking the fiftieth anniversary of the repeal of Tennessee's Butler
Act in 1967 as their cue, Branch and Reid warned, "the schools are
still not entirely safe for evolution. From Scopes through [Gary]
Scott [a teacher whose lawsuit contributed to the repeal] to today,
science teachers have been in the trenches of the evolution wars,
bearing the brunt of conflicting forces from science and society."

"Fortunately, the treatment of evolution in state science standards
is, on the whole, improving, which means that textbooks, curricula,
and ideally teachers are following suit. But scientific knowledge and
pedagogical knowhow aren't the only equipment that teachers need in
order to teach evolution forthrightly. They also need the confidence
to persist, even in the face of doubt and denial."

Branch and Reid added, "Creationists are as active as ever ... So the
evolution wars are by no means over." "50 Years Ago: Repeal of
Tennessee's 'Monkey Law'" was originally published on Scientific
American's Observations blog (May 10, 2017).

For information about the special edition of Scientific American, visit: 


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Glenn Branch describing NCSE at work in New Mexico: 

For NCSE's blog, visit: 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax 510-788-7971 

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