December 4, 2008 Publishing Good News since 1884 Volume 125 Number 43

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Senate rejects House evolution bill

Fate of academic freedom measure now lies with House


TALLAHASSEE (FBW) – The Florida Senate today approved without objection a motion offered by Sen. Ronda Storms (R-Brandon) to reject the evolution bill adopted by the Florida House of Representatives.

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The measure now goes back to the House for further consideration with one day left in the annual 60-day legislative session.

The House approved its bill April 28 by a vote of 71-43 requiring teachers to engage in a “scientific critical analysis” when teaching evolution. The 13-word bill, HB 1483, sponsored by Rep. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla), amends a current statute listing “approved methods of instruction” for public school teachers by adding, “A thorough presentation and scientific critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.”

The House action substituted its language for the Senate measure, SB 2692.

Earlier, the Senate adopted Storms’ bill April 23 by a vote of 21-17. The “Evolution Academic Freedom Act” provides an express statutory right protection for teachers to present scientific information that is relevant to the full range of views on biological and chemical evolution.

In comments to Florida Baptist Witness following the House action April 28, Storms said she hoped the House would accept the Senate’s bill.

“At the beginning of session, both the House and Senate agreed to travel by caravan to an important destination by way of a difficult and rocky terrain,” Storms said. “Suddenly, as we drew near our destination after a tumultuous trip, the House vehicle veered off of the sure path to our destination and merrily called out, ‘We know a better way! Follow us!’ However, the Senate vehicle is filled with senators who want to stick to the known path since the destination is clearly in sight. So, the Senate vehicle presses on, arriving at the agreed upon destination and hoping that the House makes it there in time.”

Pro-family groups supporting adoption of an evolution academic freedom bill hope the House will concur with the Senate measure, sending the legislation to Gov. Charlie Crist who has declined to take a position on the matter.

The Legislature has engaged in the evolution debate in response to new statewide science standards adopted by the Florida Board of Education in February asserting that evolution is the “the fundamental concept underlying all biology ... supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.”

The new science standards go in effect this fall and will remain in place for ten years replacing current standards that did not mention evolution, earning scorn from science education experts.