Professor details Florida-led changes to science textbooks

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

Miller, co-author of several biology textbooks with Joseph Levine, told the The Orlando Sentinel An article published Friday claims that its editor received phone calls last month from state officials informing them of state-ordered changes. These changes required the removal of some references to “climate change” and the term was removed from high school science textbooks.

According to publisher Savvas, which also publishes the Miller and Levine high school biology textbooks used nationwide, a high school chemistry textbook was required to eliminate a 90-page section on the subject.

“For certain states, like Florida and Texas, we wrote special editions closely related to their unique scientific standards,” Miller said. Week of news An email sent Saturday afternoon reads: “We introduced our new Florida edition in 2023 and school districts have been evaluating it for adoption and use in the 2024-25 school year, which begins in just a few weeks.”

A second author, who requested anonymity and who Week of news has not independently identified, has relayed a similar account to Miller’s to the The Orlando Sentinel. The anonymous author said state officials wanted publishers to remove “extraneous information” that was not in state standards, adding: “They asked to remove phrases like climate change.”

According to the paper, Miller’s high school biology textbook was required to add quotes defending claims that “human activity” caused climate change and to remove a “political statement” suggesting legislative action to stop climate change.

Climate change is a politically sensitive issue: many members of the Republican Party deny its existence and others work to stop legislation aimed at curbing climate change, such as incentivizing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 1645, proposed by the Republican-led legislature, which removed the phrase “climate change” from several Florida laws. The law went into effect on July 1. The bill does not directly address the state’s educational and science standards, but instead notes that addressing climate change is not a state priority.

However, according to the bill’s final analysis by Florida House staff, it “removes a provision establishing the recognition and treatment of ‘global climate change potential’ as a state energy policy,” and instead promotes “the development and cost-effective use of a diverse supply of domestic energy resources in the state.”

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

DeSantis has been criticized by liberal activists for several incidents of censorship and book bans in Florida public schools. In April, PEN America, an organization that fights book bans, published a report saying that “Florida experienced the highest number of banning cases, with 3,135 bans in 11 school districts.”

In February, the governor’s office said in a news release that the state “is not banning the books, but has empowered parents to object to obscene material in the classroom.”

Updated and corrected 6/7/24 at 6:07 pm ET: This article was updated with Miller’s comment and corrected to clarify that the chemistry textbook was not Miller’s.

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

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