Conservative activists in Florida haven't been successful in their attempts to get books removed from public schools in Collier County. Now they're hoping to pass new laws to give them a better chance of winning future battles.
Two new bills in the Florida legislature–HB 899 and SB 1018– are evidently the work of grassroots groups Florida Citizens’ Alliance and Better Collier County Public Schools. The bills, which seek to amend a new state law on the selection of instructional materials, are raising serious concerns. The bills would grant any taxpayer the right to formally challenge school materials, and would give such challengers the right to take a school board to court over an unsatisfactory decision. The bills also reportedly seek to increase the representation of parents on textbook selection committees.
The bills also declare that "all instructional materials used in the classroom" must "[p]rovide a noninflammatory, objective, and balanced viewpoint on issues" and be "accurate and factual." Those are concepts that are difficult, if not impossible, to define; but as the National Center for Science Education noted, one of the groups behind the bills has some peculiar ideas about what constitutes accurate science education:
Florida Citizens' Alliance's website recently posted a list of “Examples of Acceptable/Proven K-12 Standards and Corresponding Curriculum," which includes a link to something called Freedom Project Education Classical Judeo-Christian Online Academy, whose high school biology classes refer to "the Creator God" and use a creationist textbook (Exploring Creation with Biology, second edition).
In the end, these bills seem designed to empower ideologically-driven activists to shape what is taught in Florida's classrooms. Those decisions are best left to professional educators.