6/14/08

Science Education Threatened in Louisiana

Earlier this week, the Louisiana House of Representatives approved what is being called the "Science Education Act" (SB 733). SB 733 is being widely criticized by defenders of reality-based education for opening the door to teaching creationism in Louisiana's public schools. Americans United for Separation of Church and State is now hinting that a lawsuit will result if the measure takes effect.

SB 733, approved 94-3 in the House, permits public school teachers to use "supplemental materials" when teaching evolution. According to Americans United and other groups, these “supplemental materials” are likely to include anti-evolution material produced by fundamentalist Christian ministries.

This suspicion is fueled by the measure's chief proponents, the Louisiana Family Forum, the Discovery Institute, and other Christian groups with established histories of pushing creationism.
“It’s time for Louisiana to step into the 21st century and stop trying to teach religion in public schools,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Laws like this are an embarrassment.”
Absolutely! To this observer in neighboring Mississippi, this appears to be the last thing Louisiana and other Southern states need. The quality of our educational system is abysmal. We need more - not less - emphasis on reality around here. We need our students to learn real science instead of religion masquerading as science.

Like many Southern states, Louisiana has a history of degrading secular education by opposing evolution and infusing religiously derived falsehoods into the curriculum.
Lynn noted that Louisiana legislators have repeatedly tried to water down the teaching of evolution. In the 1980s, the state passed a law mandating “balanced treatment” between evolution and creationism. The measure was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1987. Some parishes in Louisiana have voted to paste “disclaimers” in science books, casting doubt on evolution.
This will be one to watch, as it is starting to look more and more like we may see a repeat of the Dover, PA, case. If it goes that far, I certainly hope we will see the same outcome.

For more, see Evolution - What You Need to Know.