Great local source on the Polk County school board

i-957bed9f9dfb9a474abfbeaea52ce87d-polk county.jpg All the kool kids are keeping their eyes on the Polk County, Florida, school board and their contention that 'intelligent design' should be taught alongside evolution in their public schools.

Fortunately, several states have groups of concerned citizens who contend that actual science should be taught in schools, lest we continue to suffer as a society from the erosion of critical thinking skills.

Florida Citizens for Science (FCS, or FlCfS) is one of those valuable groups. Brandon Haught has been doing a terrific job keeping us apprised of local developments via the Florida Citizens for Science blog.

For example, he posts today on yesterday's Polk County School Board meeting:

The Lakeland Ledger reported on the meeting. After Joe and Jonathan spoke, an eighth-grade teacher assured the board that he could teach intelligent design without tripping over religion.

"When you talk about laws in nature it shows some order or design," said Lawrence Hughes, who has taught at the academy for 16 years. "The laws of nature don't support change from one organism to another organism."

Four of the seven School Board members have said they support teaching intelligent design in addition to evolution in public school science classes. Board members did not respond when [Jonathan] Smith and Joe Wolf, president of the Florida Citizens for Science, spoke about their opposition to intelligent design, but board member Margaret Lofton thanked Hughes after his talk.

"I support what you have to say," Lofton told Hughes.

You might want to let Lofton know that her support is misplaced. Margaret Lofton, Margaret.Lofton@polk-fl.net.

Indeed, perhaps a polite but firm e-mail to Ms. Lofton is in order.

No surprise either that Pharyngula's PZ Myers gets some bandwidth in the Ledger article:

The evolution debate in Polk County is drawing national attention. A posting on the popular science blog Pharyngula said Polk "may be our next trouble spot. They have a creationist majority on the school board."

Many thanks to the devoted folks at Florida Citizens for Science for keeping us posted on developments in Polk County and the larger general issue of the Sunshine State Science Standards revision.

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Hey Brandon, it's my pleasure to do what I can via the blog to help raise awareness about the hard work you are doing to promote science in my former home state. I know that you folks work as volunteers, so I'll be sure to drop my $20 membership fee in your PayPal box to support your efforts (and will encourage other like-minded readers to do the same!)

Thanks again for your hard work in promoting science education among the future leaders, politicians and policymakers, scientists, etc. of one of the fastest growing and most influential states in the country.