My native state hasn’t had headlines go nationwide over antievolution lately. But there are indications that Florida may be one of the next big targets of the antievolution advocates.
Ron Matus at the St. Petersburg Times wrote about this in today’s paper:
Nationally, it’s a raging debate. President Bush weighed in this month. Time magazine devoted its cover story to the subject two weeks ago.
But in Florida, the teaching of intelligent design – the newest, faith-based counterpoint to Darwin’s theory of evolution – is not an issue.
At least, not yet.
Some observers expect the other shoe to drop next year, when Florida education officials revisit state science standards as part of a routine review of what should be taught in Florida schools.
“The question is going to come up,” said Bob Orlopp, science supervisor for Pinellas County schools.
“That’s a healthy time to have discussions of that nature,” said state Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican who chairs the House Education Council and supports alternatives to evolutionary theory.
And even I got quoted a little:
A spokesman for the National Center for Science Education, which tracks intelligent-design skirmishes around the country, said anti-evolution forces typically rev up their campaigns when state science standards are reviewed.
“Florida is primed for the sort of large-scale evolution/creation incident that has grabbed headlines in other parts of the country,” Wesley Elsberry, the center’s information project director, wrote in an e-mail.
If you are in Florida and have an interest in getting involved in having only science taught in science classrooms, drop me a note. It’s not too early to start getting organized.
Florida will be, I expect, one of several places where antievolution is pushed next year as states review their science standards.
Update: I spoke with another reporter today, and sent the following as a followup email.
- Science education is critical to our continued economic competitiveness in an increasingly technical world economy.
- “Intelligent design” and “teaching the controversy” initiatives in various states have started by changing the definition of “science” in the science standards, or proposing to do so.
- A process exists for getting new ideas into the science textbooks, which is to convince the scientific community that an idea is scientifically justified. Ideas in biology that have made their way into the textbooks in this manner include endosymbioosis, transposons, and punctuated equilibria. ID advocates seek to short-circuit this process.
- “Teaching the controversy” uses the same arguments that were seen in “intelligent design”, which is turn is entirely comprised of arguments that were used in “scientific creationism”.
- The reasons that ID advocates would be satisfied in getting “teach the controversy” arguments into science classrooms are that these are the same arguments as those labelled as “intelligent design” and because of the “two-model approach”. The “two-model approach” is the logic behind the “equal time” and “balanced treatment” measures, where arguing against evolution was asserted to demonstrate the truth of “creation”/”intelligent design”. Even though ID would not be mentioned by name, the thought in the ID community is that if evolution is deprecated, people must then accept ID as the only available alternative.
Update: Fixed an infelicity in the above text, and Florida has appointed Cheri Yecke, antievolution advocate from Minnesota, to be its K-12 Chancellor. This is about as clear a signal as we could expect that a major push to undermine Florida science standards is underway.