Florida’s New Textbook Law

Michael Harper North Palm Beach Textbook LawThe state of Florida is gearing up for a huge legal battle over the content of the science textbooks used in its public school systems. At present, the science textbooks teach that climate change is indeed occurring, and that humans play a role (although to which degree is still being debated) in the degradation of the planet’s ecosystems. Regardless of the unscalable pile of scientific evidence indicating that human behavior has impacted the health of the Earth, some Florida citizens have taken up a call to arms to stop what they see as a political agenda from being shoved down the throats of Florida’s kids.

 

This past summer, the state of Florida passed a peculiar law — the very first of its kind — that allows any citizen to bring a concern about the content of the school’s textbooks, assigned reading, or curricula up to the education board for review. A self-proclaimed conservative citizen action group called Florida Citizens Alliance has long taken issue with the tones and perceived agendas that public school readings have taken. The group lobbied for a long time for the right to have a say in what the state is teaching Florida’s students and has cited numerous issues they take with not only the “one-sided facts” but also the themes they feel are anti-American.

 

Some of the smaller sticking points include “pornography” in literature as well as the way the genocide of Indigenous People as orchestrated by the US government is taught with such anti-US sentiments. However, the biggest points of contention, as they always have been, are climate change and evolution. Members of the Alliance are calling at the very least for representation of opposing viewpoints and theories on the mechanisms for species creation and changing weather patterns.

 

Naturally, those who have heretofore curated the research and books for optimal student learning are furious at the new Florida law that takes suggestions from mere laypeople. Whereas the Alliance worries about the indoctrination of children away from pure, wholesome American values and tradition, the education department worries that the Alliance will use this new law to woo children to the dwindling conservative establishment and harden them against the “media” and science as it’s generally understood. Other concerns include the fiscal cost of holding all these hearings in already-underfunded school districts who could put the money than better use than hearing non-educators and non-researchers bemoan the state of public education.

 

The ACLU of Florida is looking into where it may have to intervene. On the one hand, the ACLU fights tooth and nail for everyone to maintain their civil liberties, including those who it perceives to be grossly misinformed or straight up loony — remember, the ACLU defended the rights of white nationalists to gather peacefully. However, the organization is nervous that the Alliance may use Florida’s new law to censor or ban books it finds distasteful, which would constitute a clear first amendment violation.

 

Could this be Scopes Monkey Trial 2.0? The state of Florida will be working out the kinks in the process as members of the Alliance begin bringing their grievances to the attention of the public.