Bill Requiring Use of “Balanced” Teaching Materials Introduced in Florida
On February 15, 2019, a bill (HB 855) was introduced in the Florida legislature that would, if enacted, require the instructional materials used in public schools to provide “objective, balanced, and non-inflammatory viewpoints on controversial issues.” The term “controversial issues” is not defined in HB 855. However, science education groups have expressed concern that the term could encompass climate change, noting that the sponsor of HB 855 — Representative Walter Byran “Mike” Hill — has previously questioned the scientific consensus that human activities are the primary cause of rising temperatures. According to the groups, if HB 855 is enacted, public schools may be required to use textbooks and other materials that discuss alternative (disproven) theories regarding the cause of rising temperatures.
On May 3, 2019, House Bill 855 died in the Florida Senate Committee on Education.