Seeking to be heard
Turns out that not being on the agenda doesn't work in the public's favor at State Board of Education meetings.
Four Jacksonville-area moms drove down to Tampa for today's session, intending to talk to the board about the proposed science standards that include evolution as a "big idea." They wanted to complain about the process for collecting input, noting that their area public hearing was poorly advertised and then canceled. What's more, St. Johns County mom Kim Kendall (left) said, the state web site for receiving comments is "very difficult to maneuver around."
But the board had not advertised that it would receive public comment during its session, so chairman T. Willard Fair told Kendall and the others right before lunch that they wouldn't have the chance to talk. Commissioner Eric J. Smith had called Kendall the night before to tell her the same thing.
Kendall, whose message is that evolution shouldn't be taught to the exclusion of other ideas, told the Gradebook she was disappointed with the State Board's approach on this subject: "It appears to me they don't want public input."
The moms didn't walk away completely empty handed, though.
The Gradebook caught up with board member Linda Taylor, who had so far been silent on the topic of the standards, and found her generally supportive of the "choices" philosophy, so long as it falls within what the state can do legally.
"With the evolution, there's a bigger topic called theories of origin. I think kids should have the opportunity to compare different theories," Taylor (left) said. "If we are focused on evolution I am OK with that. But they should at least know there are other theories out there and that they could themselves compare them or that they be presented to them."
She continued: "I would support teaching evolution, but with all its warts. I think that some of the facts have been questioned by evolutionists themselves. I would want them taught as theories. That's important. They could be challenged by others and the kids could then be taught critical thinking and they can make their own choices."