Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Legislative Ethics

It being only fair to give you a break from all Expelled all the time, let's take a look at another old favorite, the Florida legislature's attempt to dumb down the state science standards, along with the state's children.

As you will have probably already seen, the bills in both the Florida houses have advanced through various committees and are apparently set for floor votes. However, in a last minute move in the House Schools and Learning Council of the Florida House, the bill was radically amended to pare itself down to a single sentence reading:

Members of the instructional staff of the public schools, subject to the rules of the State Board of Education and the district school board, shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historic accuracy, following the prescribed courses of study, and employing approved methods of instruction, the following: ... A thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.
The Florida Baptist Witness reports:

Following the vote, Rep. Joe Pickens (R-Palatka), chairman of the council, told Florida Baptist Witness the amended version of the bill was preferable to the original House bill and the current Senate bill because "it has a greater capacity to avoid litigation."
You'd think that the legislator's would have the proper education of the state's children uppermost in their minds, rather than how close they can sail to the edge of the Constitution without being sued.

On the other hand, Sen. Ronda Storms (R-Brandon), the sponsor of the bill in the state senate, had this to say:

I think the House bill will face heavy opposition in the Senate. I personally like it, but the reality is that I am not optimistic of a warm reception from the necessary majority.
The Florida Baptist Convention’s legislative consultant, Bill Bunkley, added:

While I anticipate very easy passage in the House, probably along party lines, the late shift in direction on this bill certainly increases the challenge we face to get an academic freedom bill through the Senate.
What's more, the legislative session ends May 2nd.

This has all the smell of a classic legislative ploy: bring the popular, but stupid, legislation along for a while, allowing members in more benighted districts to record a vote in favor of it, then slip some sort of "poison pill" into one version and then the majority can, reluctantly, either kill it outright or let it die a quiet death.

Let's hope that this sensible, if duplicitous, result comes to pass ... for the sake of Florida's children.

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