Florida residents could soon get the power to alter science classes
Policymakers in the United States are pushing to give the public more power to influence what educators teach students. Last week, Florida’s legislature started considering two related bills that, if enacted, would let residents recommend which instructional materials teachers in their school district use in their classrooms.
The bills build on a law enacted in June 2017, which enables any Florida resident to challenge the textbooks and other educational tools used in their district as being biased or inaccurate. In the five months after the state's governor approved the law, residents filed at least seven complaints, including two that challenge the teaching of evolution and human-driven climate change, according to the Associated Press.
But the bills approved this month by the education committees in the state's Senate and House of Representatives go a step further, because they would allow the public to review educational materials used in class and to suggest alternatives. “They would make it easier for creationists, climate-change deniers and — who knows — flat-Earthers to pester their local school boards about their hobbyhorses,” says Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California. The final decision on whether to follow the recommendations still rests with the school boards.