Saturday, September 25, 2021

La. won't repeal creationism law this year


Once again, efforts backed by many, many scientists have failed to repeal a Louisiana law they say promotes the religious doctrine of creationism.

Gov Bobby Jindal at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, April 2010 (Cheryl Gerber / Getty Images)

SB 74, also known as the “Intelligent Outcomes Wanted Act,” takes an issue with the following requirements now in effect under the Louisiana Science Education Act:

  • The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, must “allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” (emphasis added).
  • That assistance must include support and guidance for teachers regarding effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique, and objectively review such scientific theories being studied.
  • A teacher must teach material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the local school board unless otherwise prohibited by BESE.

After almost an hour of discussion and testimony, the state Senate’s education committee deferred action on the bill, essentially killing it for this legislative session.

Let me be brief: There is no point in encouraging students to “critique” or “objectively review” the scientific theories behind “evolution.” Evolution is a fact, and we have pointed this out in the past (here and here, for example).

The only reason to promote the use of “other instructional materials,” which under law may or may not be approved as long as they’re not explicitly prohibited by Louisiana’s BESE, is to teach creationism or intelligent design. The reason I say this is that teachers won’t find any peer-reviewed “instructional materials” that could help students understand evolution except those that reach the conclusion that evolution is a fact.

There’s no point in having a debate anymore, and Louisiana needs to repeal its law.

State Sen Karen Carter Peterson introduced the Intelligent Outcomes Wanted Act, and 78 Nobel laureate scientists—nearly 40 percent of those who are still alive—as well as organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, are behind her.

Activist Zack Kopplin has been pushing to repeal the law since his senior year in high school, about five years ago. He provided testimony before the state Senate education committee (go to about 1:46:00 in the video here). He said he’s sure creationism is being taught in Louisiana’s public schools, given the protection and support the state’s existing science laws provide.

He wrote an article about the vote in the state legislature not to repeal the current law, saying, “Gov Bobby Jindal was asked about this law by NBC’s Education Nation and said, ‘I’ve got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about creationism.’ That is in fact why he signed the law” in 2008.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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