What they’re saying in Louisiana

I thought y’all would like to read what folks are saying about the mess oozing around in Louisiana.

Times-Picayune columnist James Gill writes about the classroom crusade.

The purported purpose is to prevent “censorship” and allow teachers to introduce materials in addition to prescribed textbooks. The act contains the obligatory disclaimer that nothing in it be “construed to promote any religious doctrine.”

But that, of course, is precisely the object. There was no need for legislation authorizing teachers to introduce supplementary scientific material, because they are free to do that already.

Critics: Legislation allows districts to ‘miseducate’ students

“For Louisiana to be identified internationally as having passed anti-science legislation is an economic catastrophe,” Monroe attorney Charles Kincade said. “Future high-wage jobs will require excellence in science and math. Louisiana will suffer not only educational isolation, but economic isolation as well.”

BESE’s newly adopted policy supports the legislation signed by Jindal in June and requires teachers to teach content presented in the Louisiana Science Curriculum and the textbook supplied to them by the local educational agency, but allows for them to supplement with “other instructional materials” approved by the local board unless it is prohibited by BESE.

The policy states that BESE will determine which supplemental materials shall be prohibited after a procedure initiated by a Louisiana citizen. Barbara Forrest of the Louisiana Coalition for Science said that the policy is lengthy and insufficient in that it places the responsibility for challenging classroom material on the parents.

“Businesses that have left Louisiana have cited poor science and math education as a state problem,” Kincade said. “This legislature and this governor have made an already poor educational system worse. Our children deserve to be taught real science.”

The Advocate says: Creationists show clout

A miracle of sorts has occurred: Backers of creationism in public schools have exposed themselves by their hardball politicking at the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The creationists don’t want to be reminded of the law they don’t like. They really don’t want teachers to comply with the law, for that defeats the purpose of sneaking religious tracts into public school classrooms.

BESE joins the ranks of the wimps who have rolled over on the issue of creationism. It’s a sad thing. Not because faith is a bad thing in its proper place. Not because the Family Forum doesn’t have a right to its views. But because the state is siding with the backward against not only science but the rule of law in this country.

Education Week story from Jan. 13: School Science Guidelines Evolve With State Panel

In a letter to BESE members, Barbara Forrest of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, notes that a draft of the guidelines posted late last week on the BESE Web site deletes a sentence that had been included in an earlier draft: “Religious beliefs shall not be advanced under the guise of encouraging critical thinking.”

“It is an important statement that will help teachers and administrators avoid costly legal challenges,” Forrest said of the deleted language.

Forrest also zeroed in on language added to the guidelines: “Evaluations of supplementary materials shall be made without regard to the religious or non-religous beliefs and affiliations of the authors of supplementary materials.”

The beliefs of the author of any material proposed for use in a science class are valid considerations for whether such material should be used, Forrest wrote. “There is a difference between a document that derives from a respected scientific organization such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an article found on a Web site promoting the idea, for example, that the moon landing was a hoax,” Forrest said.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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One Response to What they’re saying in Louisiana

  1. Johnny says:

    A shame this got through…

    I’m curious as to how much money Louisiana will spend dealing with the lawsuits that are bound to follow. Imagine if that money was actually used in support of science education instead of battling religious and political agendas…

    Big loss for the kids.

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