Fight over science education bill in Louisiana

Thanks to Robert Luhn, with the National Center for Science Education, for passing along this news piece about high school student Zack Kopplin’s efforts to help repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows teachers to use

supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board.

The bill, which was supported and signed by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal with the additional support, as this story notes, of some religious outfits, most notably, the Discovery Institute, an intelligent design advocate. According to the article:

Lining up to promote the bill were a coalition of religious organizations and Seattle’s pro-Intelligent Design think tank, the Discovery Institute. According to the Louisiana Science Coalition, Discovery fellows helped write the bill and arranged for testimony in its favor in the legislature. The bill itself plays directly into Discovery’s strategy, freeing local schools to “use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.”

Opponents of the bill, like Kopplin and LSU science professor Kevin Carman, say the bill leaves open the possibility that anti-evolution materials could be taught in the classroom. A portion of the bill’s text says that

This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion

Nonetheless, the Discovery Institute’s involvement in the bill suggests highly that Louisiana’s pro-creationism base, indeed, wants to try to slip intelligent design into the classroom where it doesn’t belong.

The bill also says school board officials seek 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, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

The problem with this part is that there is no need to have any “objective discussion” that may throw evolution into a questionable light just because it’s a scientific theory. Scientific theories are very different than other definitions of the word “theory.” There is no discussion within the scientific community about the validity of evolution being the engine by which complex and diversified life formed on this planet. Evolution is on as firm scientific footing as gravity. So much so that if the ID crowd wants to throw evolution into question, it must also be willing to question gravity as well since both are technically scientific theories.

As Carman said in the following video,

Evolution is an integral to the understanding of biology as atoms are to the understanding of chemistry.

And here is Carman’s recent speech:

About the Author

Jeremy Styron
Jeremy Styron
I am a newspaper editor, op-ed columnist and reporter working in the greater Knoxville area. This is a personal blog. Views expressed here are mine and mine alone.

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