Help Louisiana!

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As noted a few days ago, Louisiana is in the process of adopting the Disco ‘Tute’s execrable “Science Education Act.” It has been passed by both legislative bodies and now all that remains is for Governor Bobby Jindal to sign it. While there is little doubt he’ll do so – he has argued that both evolution and ID should be taught in public schools – it is still very important to let him know what he’s doing.

The Louisiana Coalition for Science has posted an open letter to Governor Jindal and is asking that anyone concerned about the subversion of science education to contact him and urge him to “…veto SB 733 in the best interests of our children and to protect the reputation of our state.” Keep them clean, please.

The full text of the open letter is below the fold. More info and other relevant links are here.

LA Coalition for Science

June 16, 2008

Honorable Bobby Jindal Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Re: Veto of SB 733

Dear Governor Jindal:

SB 733, recently passed by both houses of the legislature, purports to enable teachers to help students “develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.” This is a seemingly noble-sounding but deceptive goal.

SB 733 is a thinly disguised attempt to advance the “Wedge Strategy” of the Discovery Institute (DI), a creationist think tank that is collaborating with the LA Family Forum to get intelligent design (ID) creationism into LA public school science classes. John West, associate director of DI’s Center for Science and Culture, has even presumed to interpret SB 733 on DI’s website so as to favor his group’s agenda. (See West’s “Questions and Answers About the Proposed Louisiana Science Education Act.”) Within minutes of the Senate’s passage of the bill on June 16, West posted the news of Louisiana’s passage of the “landmark” LA Science Education Act on DI’s website. According to one Louisiana news account, West indicated that DI hopes to see its own creationist textbook, the deceptively titled Explore Evolution, used in our science classes as one of the supplements that SB 733 will permit teachers to use (Opelousas Daily World, 6/16/08). DI apparently has a financial as well as a religious and political interest in this legislation.

Creationism, which includes both young-earth creationism and ID, is not science but a sectarian view based on the Bible. Young-earth creationism is based on Genesis, and ID is based on the Gospel of John, as was established in federal court in the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005). The Bible was never intended to be a science textbook. Evolution has long been accepted by the Catholic Church and most other mainstream churches. The late Pope John Paul II said in 1996 that “new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.” (Truth Cannot Contradict Truth, October 22, 1996) As the pope recognized and other mainstream religions also recognize, there is no conflict between teaching children the scientific fact of evolution in school and providing religious instruction at home and in church. Millions of Americans lead committed religious lives while fully accepting modern science.

Since you hold a biology degree from Brown University, one of the nation’s most prestigious schools, you certainly appreciate Theodosius Dobzhansky’s famous insight, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” You also surely understand that there is no scientific controversy over the fact of evolution. The current controversy is a political one, manufactured nationally by the Discovery Institute and here in Louisiana by the LA Family Forum, which does not represent the majority of Louisiana’s citizens but would impose its agenda on our entire state, even our children.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is violated when the government endorses a sectarian doctrine, as SB 733 would do, despite denials by the bill’s supporters. The section of SB 733 stipulating that the bill “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” actually comes from the DI’s own model academic freedom act. If SB 733 were truly about teaching science, no such disclaimer would be needed.

If SB 733 becomes law, we can anticipate the embarrassment it will bring to the state, not to mention the prospect of spending millions of taxpayer dollars defending the inevitable federal court challenge. Consider also that federal courts have uniformly invalidated every effort to attack the teaching of evolution in public schools, including, among others, (1) Edwards v. Aguillard, a 1987 case that Louisiana lost in the U.S. Supreme Court; and (2) Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (pdf), a 2005 Pennsylvania federal court case in which a conservative Republican judge appointed by Pres. George W. Bush thoroughly examined and rejected a school board policy that presented ID to students as an alternative to evolution.

With our state still recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, does Louisiana need the expense and embarrassment of defending – and losing – another lawsuit in federal court? What image will this legislation convey to high-tech companies and skilled individuals who might consider locating here? On your “Workforce Development” website, where you tell readers that “I am asking you to once again believe in Louisiana,” you acknowledge that because of a “skills gap,” the “training and education of our citizens does not meet the requirements of available jobs.” You state that “the lack of economic mobility discourages many Louisianans, including thousands of young people who have left our state in search of greater opportunities.” You also highlight Louisiana’s low educational ranking as one cause of the “workforce crisis in LA”: “In a 2007 national Chance-for-Success Index, Louisiana ranks #49 in the nation based on 13 indicators that highlight whether young children get off to a good start, succeed in elementary and secondary school, and hit crucial educational and economic benchmarks as adults.” SB 733 will degrade the quality of science education just when the state is so working hard to improve public schools.

Surely you agree that SB 733 sends the wrong message to the nation if we want to develop additional high tech companies such as the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LIGO, and other research universities and centers across the state. SB 733 will sacrifice the education of our children to further the political and religious aims of the LA Family Forum and the Discovery Institute, an out-of-state creationist think tank whose only interest in Louisiana is promoting their agenda at the expense of our children.

You have repeatedly stressed your commitment to making Louisiana a place where our young people can build families and careers. You can help to make Louisiana that place by proving that you support the hundreds of science teachers and thousands of students in the public schools and universities across the state. You can demonstrate your commitment to improving both Louisiana’s image and our educational system by vetoing SB 733. The state and the nation are watching.

We call upon you to veto SB 733 in the best interests of our children and to protect the reputation of our state.

Sincerely,

LA Coalition for Science

28 Comments

I am not extremely familiar with the US legal system. If this bill passes, will the same sort of lawsuit occur as in Dover? What differences will there be between a lawsuit over this bill and the one in Dover, seeing that this is State legislation vs. school board level?

What this bill would create, if signed, is what I have called a “Dover trap.” That is, it would implicitly encourage local districts to include ID creationist crap (or even traditional YEC crap) in their science teaching. That could bring about a suit similar to the one tried in Dover trial against that local district. That same reasoning applied to Ohio when the State Board of Education was shoving creationist crap into the model curriculum. Fortunately Ohio’s BOE trashed that stuff.

Louisiana may not be so fortunate, so some poor local district in Louisiana is likely to get hammered by being sucked into teaching creationist crap. The state legislators don’t give a damn – the state won’t have to pay the $1 million the Dover district had to fork over. Since the trial will be in federal court, not a state court, the state law won’t be of any particular help to the local district’s defense.

Daoud said:

I am not extremely familiar with the US legal system. If this bill passes, will the same sort of lawsuit occur as in Dover? What differences will there be between a lawsuit over this bill and the one in Dover, seeing that this is State legislation vs. school board level?

Not much difference… The law’s at a higher level than the Dover board’s decisions, but it’s up against the same constitutional hard place. Though I’m not sure what being in Louisiana specifically will do to things… Their state level legal system is Civil Law, not Common Law like the federal level and the rest of the state.

Minor nitpick: How did Kitzmiller v. Dover “establish” that ID is based on the Gospel of John? I know Dembski proposes this, but he didn’t testify and I don’t remember reading any other testimony that proposed this. The Gospel of John adds little if anything to Genesis regarding creation, and certainly nothing that is unique to ID. ID is simply creationism dressed up in a tux and a masquerade ball mask.

RBH said: The state legislators don’t give a damn – the state won’t have to pay the $1 million the Dover district had to fork over.

The state legislators probably think it would give them another opportunity to bash ACLU (assuming ACLU would be the plaintiff) and burnish their credentials as stout defenders of people of faith.

Does Jindal have the option of not doing anything, neither signing nor vetoing and thus allow the resolution to expire at the end of the term? I think he would play it based on McCain’s VP selection process.

jkc said: Minor nitpick: How did Kitzmiller v. Dover “establish” that ID is based on the Gospel of John?

By discovering the transitional fossil Cdesign Propenentsis the plaintiffs proved that ID and creationism have identical message with just the labels changed. Among other things.

jkc commented

Minor nitpick: How did Kitzmiller v. Dover “establish” that ID is based on the Gospel of John? I know Dembski proposes this, but he didn’t testify and I don’t remember reading any other testimony that proposed this.

See Barbara Forrest’s testimony starting here.

Ravilyn Sanders asked: Does Jindal have the option of not doing anything, neither signing nor vetoing and thus allow the resolution to expire at the end of the term?

The NCSE article at http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/ne[…]_17_2008.asp says “If Governor Bobby Jindal signs the bill or does not veto the bill within 20 days, it will become law.” So even if he does nothing, it still becomes (a bad) law.

Mr. Hoppe,

Thanks for the reference to the Barbara Forrest testimony. I must have been more interested in the scientific testimony when I read the transcript.

Nonetheless, I don’t think her testimony establishes that ID is based on the Gospel of John. It establishes that Johnson, Dembski, and Thaxton refer to John 1:1 a lot for Biblical support for ID. The connection between John 1:1 and ID is pretty weak both logically and theologically.

As I admitted previously, this is just a nitpick. However, it did strike me as odd to say that ID is different from creationism because their Biblical support comes from different places. I think it would suffice to say that both come from the Bible and leave it at that.

Well, I suppose we should at least bother to notice that creationism IS being taught in science classes across Louisiana, and always has been. Whether this bill is signed into law or not won’t change that. Whether some poor district gets Dovered won’t change that. Hell, even if the Louisiana legislature passed a bill forbidding the mention of creation in public schools on penalty of loss of State support, that STILL wouldn’t change it.

Remember Judge Roy Moore here in Alabama, who defied every law, and even when the Federal court demanded that he remove his sculpture, he got up on his hind legs (in front of all our TV cameras) and announced that God trumps the law, and as a Christian he will violate the law as Jesus requires (and he was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama!) For which he received the fanatical support of a distressingly high percentage of the voters!

And yet we see no lawsuits despite the preaching of creationism in public schools here and in Louisiana. We’d see riots in the streets if they STOPPED their preaching! It’s not the judiciary that keeps Johnny out of heaven, it’s lack of diligence on the part of decent god-fearing parents. Where I work, I hear engineers complaining about the extra burden of having to UNLEARN evolution out of their poor kids, whose souls the atheist communist local school board is endangering recklessly.

The L.A. Coalition for Science should also point out that scientists warned us for years about what would happen if a major hurricane struck New Orleans. (See Drowning New Orleans by Mark Fischetti in Scientific American.)

That was quite an expensive lesson about what happens when we ignore mainstream scientists. Does Louisiana want its children to become even more scientifically illiterate?

It establishes that Johnson, Dembski, and Thaxton refer to John 1:1 a lot for Biblical support for ID. The connection between John 1:1 and ID is pretty weak both logically and theologically.

I think the argument comes from the ID proponents themselves. Their attachment to John 1:1 is that they are saying that if you don’t take a literal interpretation of the Old Testament, then you can’t accept the New Testament either, complete with its evangelical worldview and the acceptance of Christ.

Literal interpretation? Where does all that leave people who can’t simultaneously accept two mutually contradictory lineages for a critical character? Not to mention several mutually contradictory accounts of a critical event? Or those who think grasshoppers have six legs?

Henry

Karen said:

The L.A. Coalition for Science should also point out that scientists warned us for years about what would happen if a major hurricane struck New Orleans. (See Drowning New Orleans by Mark Fischetti in Scientific American.)

That was quite an expensive lesson about what happens when we ignore mainstream scientists. Does Louisiana want its children to become even more scientifically illiterate?

There are some who would say that New Orleans deserved what it got. ;)

ruthetters said:

I think the argument comes from the ID proponents themselves. Their attachment to John 1:1 is that they are saying that if you don’t take a literal interpretation of the Old Testament, then you can’t accept the New Testament either, complete with its evangelical worldview and the acceptance of Christ.

Good point. Although the theological implications may be a bit subtle for the average politician, it is true that ID is a two-pronged update on traditional creationism: (1) ditch the YEC nonsense to be more palatable to scientists and judges; and (2) show how the New Testament supports creation to win back those who reject Genesis literalism. Not surprisingly, the latter is just as dishonest and vacuous theologically as the former is scientifically and legally.

Does Louisiana want its children to become even more scientifically illiterate?

Well yes, of course. But thanks for asking. Louisiana scores 47th out of 50 states in educational achievement of its citizens. I’m sure they are furious that they didn’t take 50th place.

Xpost pharyngula:

Got to wonder about a state that cheerfully declares they are full of morons and proud of it.

It isn’t like they don’t have a huge number of serious problems. New Orleans still hasn’t recovered fully, their coastline is eroding away, the southern half of the state is subsiding while the oceans rise, plus the usual social problems of an ignorant fundie population.

So they walk around on their knuckles and hoot a lot. At least Nero seranaded the people while Rome burned.

PS Never been to Louisiana and now have zero desire to go their. A colleague went there for a scientific meeting in New Orleans once. He like the French Quarter but didn’t appreciate being called a “chink”. He is a Japanese American and they didn’t even get their racist insults right.

“West indicated that DI hopes to see its own creationist textbook, the deceptively titled Explore Evolution, used in our science classes as one of the supplements that SB 733 will permit teachers to use”.

Please note that [i]Explore Evolution[/i] does not mention “intelligent design”. [i]Explore Evolution[/i] does not offer any alternative to evolution but only attempts to undermine the theory of evolution.

jkc Wrote:

..(1) ditch the YEC nonsense to be more palatable to scientists and judges;..

Actually, ditching the YEC nonsense makes it less palatable to many scientists, and ought to make it less palatable to all scientists.

Even before “cdesign proponentsists” some classic creationist groups realized that the evidence simply does not support YEC - or OEC without common descent. If that wasn’t bad enough, there was no hope of reconciliation between several mutually contradictory versions (thanks to Henry J for using my favorite Ken Miller phrase twice!). All that was left was to promote unreasonable doubt of evolution and let the audience do the rest. Which is to infer their favorite childhood origins myth without being alerted to its weaknesses or contradictions with other versions.

Thus with or without legal problems, anti-evolution activism completed the transition from honest but misguided belief to total obscurantist scam - over 20 years ago.

Sadly, the combination of a biology degree, and the fact that he blatantly evaded a question on whether he doubted evolution, strongly suggests that Jindal knows that it’s a scam and approves of it anyway.

Scott Beach Wrote:

Please note that [i]Explore Evolution[/i] does not mention “intelligent design”. [i]Explore Evolution[/i] does not offer any alternative to evolution but only attempts to undermine the theory of evolution.

Thank you. Calling it a “creationist” textbook gains nothing, and only gives the anti-evolution activists another quote to mine. Most people simply do not know that “creationism” has come to mean “any strategy that uses long-refuted arguments and other common rhetorical tricks to promote unreasonable doubt about evolution.” They still define it as “honest belief in a 6-day, 6000 year ago creation,” so we must be either perfectly clear that we are using a different definition, or leave the word out altogether.

If you have a blog - please post this information and help spread the word.

Stacy

Instead of fighting this nonsense in 50 states, how about we pass federal legislation that denies funding to states that deviate from federally approved curricula in core subjects? This bill could be for all science and math subjects, not just biology and evolution.

We could have federal curricula developed and approved by non governmental bodes (NCSE, AAAS, math associations for math, etc). If the creationists (including ID supporters) want to get creationism into the curricula, they would then have to do real science and convince such an organization that there is evidence for creationism.

States and local districts would be reluctant to lose federal money, so they would have to think twice before deviating from teaching evolution.

We could get sponsors for such a bill from districts that would not punish such a sponsor. We hopefully would not have to worry about a presidential veto, especially if Obama is elected.

Courtesy of my “pal” Bill Dembski:

21 June 2008

Pressure on Gov. Jindal to support/deny academic freedom William Dembski

Here are two emails I received, one from the Academic Freedom Consortium, which backs the recent Louisiana legislation allowing public school teachers to present material critical of Darwinian evolution, another from the skeptic society (Center for Inquiry), saying it’s all a ruse for sneaking religion into the science curriculum and therefore violates the First Amendment.

Please forward this information to our supporters. In Ohio, the Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson plan was repealed partly because the state board of education received 14,000 emails opposing to it. The other side, as you can see below, wants to do the same here. Fortunate, Gov. Jindal has his head screwed on straight and Louisiana is not Ohio. Still, it will strengthen his hand if he sees our support.

FROM THE GOOD GUYS: —– Original Message —–

From: AcademicFreedomPetition.com To: [Enable javascript to see this email address.] Sent: Friday, June 20, 2008 7:00 PM Subject: Tell Governor Jindal To Sign Academic Freedom Legislation

——————————————————————————–

Tell Governor Jindal You Support Academic Freedom

Click here and send Governor Jindal a message of support and let him know Louisiana should lead the way to academic freedom and freedom of scientific inquiry by signing the LSEA into law.

Louisiana is on the verge of becoming the first state to enact academic freedom legislation that will protect a teacher’s right to present scientific evidence both for and against modern evolutionary theory. The Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) is sitting on Governor Jindal’s desk waiting for his signature. But, he needs to know you support it.

Dogmatic Darwinists are working overtime to bully the Governor into vetoing the act, going so far as to enlist activists from other countries to urge American’s to tell Governor Jindal to oppose the act.

We need the help of everyone in Louisiana, and everyone in America, who supports academic freedom to encourage Governor Jindal to sign the LSEA into law.

The LSEA is a home-grown measure. Drafted by Democratic state senator Ben Nevers, the bill was inspired by the Ouachita Parish School District Policy which was established almost two years ago. The LSEA echoes some of what Discovery Institute has called for in its sample academic freedom legislation, but the bill has been advanced by Louisiana citizens and has won overwhelming support from Louisiana legislators.

Darwinists are calling for help from around the world. A letter attacking the LSEA is being showcased and e-mailed all over the world by Richarddawkins.net. As usual the letter is full of falsehoods.

This bill is not about creationism or religion. That’s a red herring from desperate Darwinists. The bill is about allowing teachers to present scientific evidence that supports Darwin’s theory, as well as some that challenges it.

So, please help us in supporting the LSEA.

Click here and send Governor Jindal a message of support and let him know Louisiana should lead the way to academic freedom and freedom of scientific inquiry by signing the LSEA into law.

You can also help by forwarding this e-mail to friends and family in Louisiana, or anywhere around the country, and ask join you and sign the Academic Freedom Petition at www.academicfreedompetion.com.

Click here for more information on the Louisiana Science Education Act

FROM THE BAD GUYS:

Greetings,

CFI Action Alert!

Help the Louisiana Coalition for Science Defeat Anti-Science Bill; Protect the Integrity of Science Education

Implore Governor Jindal to veto bill SB 733, LA Science Education Act

The Louisiana Senate has passed SB 733, a bill that creationists can use to force their sectarian views into public school science classes. The bill provides that, upon the request of a local school board, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) must permit appropriate supplementary instructional materials in science classes, but gives no guidance about the criteria BESE should use in approving such supplementary materials. Effectively, the legislation provides a means for creationists to promote their pseudo-scientific views in the classroom. The LA Coalition for Science (LCFS), a group of concerned parents, teachers and scientists, has called on Gov. Jindal to veto the bill through an open letter on its website at http://lasciencecoalition.org.

“This bill doesn’t help teachers. It allows local school boards to open the doors of public school science classrooms to creationism with the blessing of the state,” explains LCFS member Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University. “Governor Jindal surely knows that evolution is not controversial in the mainstream scientific community. He majored in biology at Brown University, and he belongs to a church that considers evolution to be established science and approves of its being taught in its own parochial schools. The LA Family Forum is pushing this bill over the objections of scientists and teachers across the state. The governor has a moral responsibility to Louisiana children to veto this bill.”

Paul Kurtz, CFI’s Chair, has stated that “SB 733 poses a serious threat to science education and represents yet another attempt by creationists to insinuate their religious doctrine into the classroom under the guise of promoting critical reasoning.”

We have reached the point at which the only possible measure we have left is to raise an outcry from around the country that Gov. Jindal has to hear. What is happening in Louisiana has national implications, much to the delight of proponents of “intelligent design.”

Please contact everyone you know and ask them to contact the governor’s office and ask him to veto the bill. Louisiana will be only the beginning. Your state could be next.

Here are the talking points:

Point 1: The Louisiana law, SB 733, the LA Science Education Act, has national implications. So far, this legislation has failed in every other state where it was proposed, except in Michigan, where it remains in committee. By passing SB 733, Louisiana has set a dangerous precedent that will benefit the Discovery Institute and other creationists by helping them to advance their strategy to get intelligent design creationism into public schools. Louisiana is only the beginning. Other states will now be encouraged to pass such legislation, and the Discovery Institute has already said that they will continue their push to get such legislation passed.

Point 2: Gov. Jindal’s failure to oppose the teaching of ID clearly helped to get this bill passed in the first place. His decision to veto it will stick if he lets the legislature know that he wants it to stick.

Point 3: Simply allowing the bill to become law without his signature, which is one of the governor’s options, does not absolve him of the responsibility for protecting the public school science classes of Louisiana. He must veto the bill to show that he is serious about improving Louisiana by improving education. Anything less than a veto means that the governor is giving a green light to creationists to undermine the education of Louisiana children.

TAKE ACTION NOW! TELL GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TO VETO SB 733

Contact Information:

E-mail: http://www.gov.la.gov/index.cfm?md=[…]ail_governor

Phone: 225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121 (Toll Free)

Fax: 225-342-7099

Well, he signed it anyway. Let’s face it, was there ever really any doubt? Though we did have to try.

Academic freedom is all well and good, so long as they’ve got something to teach. The Dover trial showed that they didn’t.

They should make the transcripts for that trial part of the required reading for science classes so students can see that manufactured controversies can’t be included in “academic freedom”.

I’d like to know where, back in the day of the Scopes trial, the people advocating “academic freedom” among the religous right were.

Maybe the counterslogan to “teach the controversy” should “don’t teach bullshit”.

be.

Bad News - he signed the bill … sigh.

Notes from a lawyer and law teacher who’s been following this bill throughout the process:

1. About the discussion to this point:

a) Generalizations won’t do – you’ve got to read the bill, now Act 473, to see what the actual effect will be. (b) Louisiana NEVER adopted the Code Civil that is associated with Napoleon’s name: Louisiana’s original Civil Code was developed by three pretty darn good Louisiana lawyers from French (a projet of the Code Civil) and Spanish sources, to which they added provisions to cover the commercial laws dealt with elsewhere in French law. (Louisiana had been Spanish, not French, for decades when Jefferson sent Monroe to buy the Ile d’Orleans from Napoleon, such that it made sense to the redactors of the Louisiana code to follow Spanish legal traditions with respect to personal and family law issues.) Civil law reigns in most countries of the world outside the US and England, anyway, and to my way of thinking gives clearer guidance and quicker, more efficient justice in civil matters than the common law – much of which has already been replaced by clumsily written “codes” in the US. So, please, give the canard that “Louisiana is different in all legal respects because of the Napoleonic Code” a rest. The Civil Code has precisely NOTHING at all to do with the teaching of creationism in the pulbic schools anyway.

(c) Please try to control the ad hominem attacks. It’s no way to manage an issue. A insenitive ethnic remark on one visit to one part of one city is by no means grounds to condemn a whole state. Neither are the facts, inter alia, that (i) the plate on which the northern rim of the Gulf of Mexico sits is being deflected down (from Houston to Pensacola) by the weight of the delta-making sediment deposited on it since the retreat of the last continental ice sheets, (ii) channelization and flood-control levees keep the silt carried by the Mississippi River from building the delta back up, and (iii) dams, locks, and modern soil-conservation practices upstream have reduced the silt volume in the river by over 75%, such that (iv) we’re sinking. Somebody has to work and live in the last habitable spot on the Mississippi if water-borne commerce is to happen, and we don’t apologize for being willing to do so. Unlike those who endure the certain annual agony of feet of frozen precipitation, who build towns in dry wildernesses for no sustainable economic reason, and who must learn to suppress the daily fear that the ground under their feet may open up with no warning, we have good years, we have a reason to be here, and we can count on enough advance notice of an impending calamity to get the hell out of Dodge. We aren’t all yahoos. Don’t alienate your allies or antagonize your adversaries by making them defend themselves and their personal choices with irrelevant and –dare I say it – insensitive remarks.

2. And finally, to the law:

This thing started out in the Senate as a bill to guarantee the academic freedom of K-12 teachers, and students, in the public schools. [“Academic freedom” in a kindergarten class??] The principal supporters in committe were creationists from the Louisiana Family Forum (Tony Perkins’ group, before he left La for DC and the Family Research Council); Senator Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, a physician with biochemistry and medical degrees from and a med-school faculty position at LSU and a Sunday school teacher; and the author, Senator Nevers, D-Bogalusa, an electical contractor, a deacon in his church, and a former school board member who, according to the bio on the legislature’s web site, “keeps education issues at the forefront.” They urged passage because the textbook-approval cycle, seven years, puts outdated science in the schools. The selection of supplemental, corrective materials that the bill was to allow into the classroom was to be left to the discretion of teachers and – get this – students. [Consider that the First Amendment prohibits interference by the state with the free exercise of religion as well as the establishment of religion by the state, and that the free-exercise clause bars public school faculty and staff from interfering with student-initiated and -led prayer at certain school functions. The notion behind the original bill was to stretch the free-exercise clause precedents to permit the kids to introduce into the science classsroom the YEC or ID notions that the establishment clause keeps their teachers from spouting. Okay, so that makes you hate lawyers. I’m just happy as a lawyer that the proponents went in a different direction, as I will explain directly.]

The original bill was replaced by a substitute, SB 733, which dropped the “academic freedom” facade and proposed to name the intended law the “Louisiana Science Education Act.” The new structure is – oddly enough – to require teachers to exhaust the old, outdated, error-filled content of the approved science textbooks and to permit them to use supplementary materials to “help students” understand and “critique” the theories being studied, but only such materials as the local school board has approved. Even then, the state board, the Board of Elemtary and Secondary Education, may rule certain supplementary materials out. The support group, apparently having not read the new bill, keeps insisting that the new law will help science teachers give their students the best of current science – whereas it hinders them in fact, by adding delay and bureaucracy to the job of staying up with their fields and updating their lesson plans accordingly.

Whoever called this law a “Dover trap” was, therefore, on point. It’s main effect will be to encourage local boards to approve wingnut “science” for use in the classroom and so invite Kitzmiller II. The local boards that do so – in open meetings, on the public record, as Louisiana law requires –will have thier decisions invalidated in federal court, where they will be hit for large fees and costs. Legislators who think the prospect one of local interest only forget that Louisiana pays up to half of every local board’s costs by way of our Minimum Foundation grant system.

The legislators voted for SB 733, with no real debate on the floor of either house, because the wording is superficially innoucuous, because the bill and its supporters explicitly renounce any intent to introduce religion into the classroom, and because nobody needed trouble from the LFF on an issue that the federal courts will be happy to handle anyway. Perhaps less than statesmanlike, but it’s near-term pragmatism that holds sway with legislators generally, in the Congress as well as in the states. Remember that Governor Jindal, who earned biology and public policy degrees from Brown in 1992 and was a Rhodes Scholar, had indicated during his campaign that he was in favor of exposing public school kids to ID. I don’t know if or to what extent he played an active role in the passage of the bill, but his public sympathy for the cause didn’t hurt.

If you’ve read this far, you have lots of patience. Thanks.

This is known that money can make us autonomous. But how to act if someone doesn’t have cash? The one way only is to receive the mortgage loans or just financial loan.

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