Professor Details Florida’s State-Directed Changes in Science Textbooks

Ken Miller, a science textbook author and a professor emeritus of biology at Brown University, said on Friday that some references to “climate change” were removed from his educational book that is used in Florida public schools.

Miller, the co-author of several biology textbooks, told the Orlando Sentinel in article published Friday that his publisher received phone calls last month from state officials informing them of state-directed changes. These changes required the removal of some references to “climate change” and the term was removed from middle school science books. According to his publisher, a 90-page section on the topic was removed from his high school chemistry textbook.

Newsweek reached out to Miller for comment and confirmation via email on Saturday.

A second author, who requested anonymity and who Newsweek has not independently identified, relayed a similar account as Miller’s to the Orlando Sentinel. The anonymous author said state officials wanted publishers to remove “extraneous information” not listed in state standards, adding, “They asked to take out phrases such as climate change.”

Miller’s high school biology textbook was required to add citations defending statements that “human activity” caused climate change and to remove a “political statement” suggesting legislative action to halt climate change, according to the newspaper.

Climate change is a politically charged topic, with many members of the GOP denying its existence and others working to halt legislation to curb climate change, such as incentivizing reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

In May, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation (HB 1645) proposed by the Republican-led legislature which removed the phrase “climate change” from several Florida laws. It went into effect on July 1. The bill does not directly address state education and science standards, but instead signals that addressing climate change is not a state priority.

It does, however, according to the Florida House of Representatives Staff final bill analysis, “remove a provision that provides for recognizing and addressing ‘the potential of global climate change’ as a state energy policy,” and instead promotes “cost-effective development and use of a diverse supply of domestic energy resources in the state.”

Newsweek has reached out to DeSantis’ press office and the Florida Department of Education (DOE) for comment and confirmation via email on Saturday.

DeSantis has come under fire from liberal activists over various book banning and censorship incidents in Florida public schools. In April, PEN America, an organization that fights book bans, issued a report sharing that “Florida experienced the highest number of ban cases, with 3,135 bans across 11 school districts.”

In February, the governor’s office said in a press release that the state “does not ban books, instead, the state has empowered parents to object to obscene material in the classroom.”

iPad Science Textbook
A person looks at a science book on an iPad in New York on January 19, 2012. Ken Miller, a science textbook author and a professor emeritus of biology at Brown University, said on Friday…

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