Collier school board, parents debate evolution content in science textbooks

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New textbooks are causing quite a controversy in Collier County schools, with some questioning whether or not religious theory should be included.

The books were just approved by the Collier County School Board by one vote at a Monday meeting. But some parents and teachers claim the books are fiction, pushing religion over science.

The meeting comes after the school board had already agreed on the new science textbooks back in May. But one formal objection automatically triggered the hearing. Four people in Collier County raised 220 objections altogether.

On one side of the issue, parents like Jim Kelly say the textbooks are too focused on evolution and not enough on other theories.

“When books just present one side of a theory or argument and doesn’t present balance, it’s unfortunate,” Kelly said.

But one former Collier County public school teacher says she couldn’t disagree more. Dr. Karen Dwyer says she was a teacher in both Catholic and public schools and she taught separate classrooms for a reason.

“I want to make sure creationism and religion is kept out of our science classroom plain and simple,” Dwyer said.

A new Florida law allows anyone, not just parents, to file formal objections to school textbooks if they see fit. That law brought in four people, including two scientists, who found issues with material in several books.

“The four people making objections represent a significant silent majority. There’s a lot of people who are standing with them,” Kelly said.

Other points of contention at Monday’s meeting included not showing enough animals native to Florida in textbooks.

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