Evolution vs. intelligent design: The Tallahassee battle returns
"If you're going to teach evolution, then you have to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking," Wise, A Republican and the powerful Senate Education Appropriations chairman, told the Florida Times-Union.
News of the pending bill filings drew nearly universal groans from Democratic lawmakers this morning. Several said that if the proposed legislation echoes last year's so-called academic freedom bills, which most Democrats opposed, then it's wrong in both substance and timing.
"It's time the other side joined us in the 21st century, whether it's this issue or global climate change and global warming," Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, told the Gradebook. "This bill, if it's filed again, will give voters a chance to see which political party has evolved."
"The Florida public wants us to try to fix this economy, create jobs, fund important program like education and health care," said Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie, the Democrats' go-to guy on education in the House. "They don't want to see us debating things like evolution and creationism … and like last year, the truck testicle bill. Those are things we should not be focused on right now."
Not all Democrats were so adamant, however.
"My first impression is that on its face it sounds fair, if all it's saying is if you teach one theory, then another theory ought to be taught so that people have informed choice," said Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. "But without really studying it more, I can't say I have a position on that."
Rep. Alan Hays, the idea's GOP House sponsor last year, told the Times-Union he would support the bill again.
Wise didn't discount the notion that a lawsuit might come if the bill becomes law. But the Florida Citizens for Science, which battled a similar effort last year, is hoping not to let it get that far.
In a blog item titled "You've got to be kidding me," the group urged supporters:
"Contact your representatives and senators. Call them. Write them. Visit them. Educate them. Don't send hate mail to Sen. Wise. Instead, tell your own representatives and senators how worried you are about education and money. Tell them you are scared that what happened in Pennsylvania will happen here. In today's horrible economic times, no one can afford a million dollar legal bill. What's important here is that you DO SOMETHING. Don't sit on the sideline and think that there are plenty of other people to take on this fight. There are never enough people. So (do) something NOW."
Ron Matus and Jeff Solochek