ID Creationism In Louisiana
The creationists deserve a few props here. Since the Dover loss they’ve switched strategies away from claiming that ID is science and are instead focusing on “academic freedom”. That the concept of academic freedom doesn’t generally apply at the elementary and secondary levels seems to be of no consequence. The Louisiana legislature has passed, by a veto-proof majority, a bill that protects the “academic freedom” of teachers to teach creationism as science:
Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, has introduced the Louisiana Academic Freedom Act in the form of Senate Bill 561. The bill is now in the Senate’s education committee, which Nevers chairs.
The Louisiana Family Forum suggested the bill, Nevers said.
“They believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin’s theory. This would allow the discussion of scientific facts,” Nevers said. “I feel the students should know there are weaknesses and strengths in both scientific arguments.”
Opponents, however, maintain that creationism is religion, not science.
“Louisiana is being used as a pawn in the Louisiana Family Forum’s scheme to force a narrow set of religious views on public schools and, indeed, on the entire state,” said Barbara Forrest, Ph.D., a reseacher, author and professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University.
According to the Senate’s digest, Nevers’ bill prohibits the state or any school official from hindering a public school teacher “from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories” such as evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning. It also prohibits officials from censoring materials on the topics.
As a soon-to-be-resident of Louisiana, it has me wondering what I’ll be walking into. This will do nothing to help the image of the state, or of the state’s high school graduates. Indeed, I can see it making the more prestigious schools avoid Louisiana graduates and it will probably discourage the best professors from working at Louisiana’s finer schools, such as Tulane and Loyola.
Furthermore, if Governor Jindal signs the bill, as opposed to just letting it become law without his signature, it will reduce his chances of being McCain’s VP pick. It would make McCain have to defend, at least for a time, something he has spoken out against. The choice of Jindal, who otherwise seems like a very fine governor, would also make the ticket look provincial. If you’re trying to shore up the image of the Republican Party, I don’t see how Jindal will help do that if he signs this bill.