Objections raised to science hearing
A conservative Christian group raised objections this afternoon to the upcoming final hearing on the science standards, saying in the headline of a press release: "State Shuts Out Decision Makers from Hearing Direct Public Testimony." The statement from the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council says there will be a press conference in Orlando Monday to address concerns about the standards, as well as the process for crafting and deliberating them. A council official declined to comment to The Gradebook.
In announcing the details of the final hearing yesterday, the Department of Education said the Board of Education - which is scheduled to vote on the standards Feb. 19 - will not be taking public comment at the Feb. 19 meeting. It said BOE members would either view Monday's hearing via live Web cast or be presented with a video recording of the meeting later. It said Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith and other high-ranking DOE officials would attend.
DOE spokesman Tom Butler said BOE members wanted "as much time as necessary" to discuss the standards amongst themselves Feb. 19. But it also wanted to get as much public feedback as possible, which is why it scheduled the Monday hearing after four previous hearings. "Public input received during the hearing is going to be heard by the state board," he said.
Earlier this week, the policy council released a statement on its website criticizing how evolution is described in the proposed standards: "The primary point of unease is found in the Life 'Science body of Knowledge' section which starts with the statement 'Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.' This approach does not encourage an accurate and thorough presentation of the scientific evidence currently available regarding the theory of evolution." The council is tied to the national group Focus on the Family and says it supports "making the case for Biblical family values in the public square."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter