Florida House bill 989 designed to curtail broad education

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Brave New World” are just a few of the novels taught in high school English classes designed to give students a wide range of knowledge surrounding the human condition. In biology, students learn about evolution and immunization. In history classes, teachers brush on various religions and the history — including slavery — behind different races. Some parents, along with legislators in the Florida House of Representatives and Senate, have decided that certain parts of the curriculum being taught in school are too controversial and that they deserve the right to determine how or whether or not these subjects can or should be taught.

Florida House Bill 989, which allows parents or residents of the county to object to the use of specific instructional materials based on specified criteria, was passed by the Legislature on May 5. According to the bill, county residents can object to any reading materials viewed as “pornographic” or “inappropriate for the grade level and age group.”

The problem with this bill is that even though the sponsors claimed that it helps parents get more involved with their students and there are limitations on what can be objected to, the legislation can easily create a situation in which someone can object to a subject being taught in school because it offends them. Groups that don’t believe in certain parts of a scientific curriculum, such as evolution or immunization, for example, can now successfully argue that their children are too young to be learning about a topic that they really just don’t want their students to hear about because it goes against their own personal beliefs.

Another issue with the bill is that residents don’t even have to have a child in school to object to what gets taught. If special-interest groups who reside in the county decide they don’t want students learning about a specific subject in school, they can object to it being taught on the grounds that the material is inappropriate for an audience of high school students.

In our generation, students can read or see pretty much anything they want to, because we have access to the Internet. This bill doesn’t actually censor anything because kids can access that and worse on their cell phones and computers.

Instead of claiming that everything is inappropriate for their precious kids, parents should want their children to learn about these so-called “controversial” topics in an environment that is controlled and honest conversation can be facilitated.

In order to be a truly educated society, students need to be learning important issues without censorship.