Back in 2005, I got a wake-up call that Florida was at risk of antievolution efforts concerning the science standards. Within a week, I had a website up to help organize the Florida Citizens for Science organization. Floridians responded, and soon they had a dedicated set of leaders to work toward getting excellent science standards in Florida. The consideration of revised standards got postponed for a year, a move that helped the fledgling FCS organization prepare for the upcoming struggle. It was apparent that FCS had a good group of people, and I could simply advise as requested as they handled the struggle.
And a struggle it was. There was a Discovery Institute-talking-point-spouting mole on the standards writing committee, Fred Cutting. Protests that the opponents of the proposed standards had no religious agenda were disingenuous, as could be seen in Cutting’s record of teaching “intelligent design” creationism materials to Pinellas County students. There were public comments, and FCS worked toward having knowledgeable people help with pro-science commentary to the BOE. There were public meetings, and FCS tried to have representatives speak up at each. There were letters to the media, and dealing with educating reporters on what was at stake, and FCS did marvellously well on this. And, finally, FCS showed up at the board meeting today and helped apprise various other pro-science speakers of the proceedings.
While the standards adopted today are not without flaws introduced at the last minute due to antievolution effort, it has to be noted that they are dramatically improved over the earlier standards. As I said at the FCS blog:
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A note to Brandon, Joe, Debra, Jonathan, and everyone else at Florida Citizens for Science: Thank you for the two and a half years of hard work and preparation. While the antievolution forces scored a point with the last-minute word fiddling on the adopted standards, the new standards will support teachers who will approach evolutionary science responsibly. I am pleased and proud to have been able to assist all of you in this effort. This is, overall, an excellent development.
There will be work in the future for Florida Citizens for Science. The wording change will certainly be followed by antievolution exploitation. You will have to be on the lookout for places where non-science is snuck into the classroom as if it were the product of the scientific process. That’s just going to be the usual hard slogging.
But for the moment, I think that you can celebrate that at least Florida’s students will be learning something about evolutionary science. It’s a big step in the right direction for Florida.