Science class in Louisiana, ctd.

by Greg Mayer

In my previous post I noted that Zack Kopplin, at the time a Louisiana high school student and now a Rice University undergrad, has led efforts to repeal Louisiana’s creationist Science Education Act of 2008. Zack saw the post, and contacted Jerry, asking us here at WEIT to highlight some of the more recent and egregious actions of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Zack has a post at his site with more details, but here are some of the lowlights. (By the way, Zack’s Facebook page is a more frequently updated account of developements on this front, and WEIT readers should follow there for the latest.) According to Zack,

My review of the Governor’s voucher program identifies at least 20 schools who use a creationist curriculum or blatantly promote creationism on their websites.  These 20 schools have been awarded 1,365 voucher slots and can receive as much as $11,602,500 in taxpayer money annually.

Among the most egregious is Northeast Baptist School, in West Monroe, which uses BJU Press science textbooks, one of which was highlighted in my previous post. Zack notes that the University of California won a lawsuit in 2010 that successfully defended its right to not accept high school credits from courses based on creationist textbooks. Faith Academy, in Gonzalez, has a student handbook that states that students must “defend creationism through evidence presented by the Bible verses traditional scientific theory.” (Their spelling is as bad as their science!) And taking the cake is Claiborne Christian School, also in West Monroe, where students are “taught to discern and refute lies commonly found in textbooks, college classrooms, and in the media”, and whose newsletter has approvingly cited the claim that scientists are “sinful men”. Each of these schools are eligible for hundreds of thousands of dollars of state support.

Gov. Jindal has recently gotten some good publicity for demanding that the Republicans “stop being the Stupid Party.” But as Newsweek’s John Avlon quickly noted, Jindal himself has presided over Louisiana’s plunge into creationism:

Marco Rubio said Earth’s age is a great mystery. Fellow rising star Bobby Jindal’s state teaches creationism alongside science. Both Republicans are preaching reform, but if they and others keep pivoting away from common-sense science, the GOP will remain the Stupid Party—and fail.

Jindal is promoting the “Stupid”, not preventing it.

Good luck to any student raised on this bilge trying to succeed in the 21st century. As the desperate Louisiana high school student pleaded to his science teacher, as the teacher explained creationism in the now classic Doonesbury comic, “Please stop. I’d like to get into a good college.”

30 Comments

  1. Jeff D
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    My current home state of Indiana has a very robust school voucher program (one of the nation’s largest, with about $38 million diverted from public to private schools).

    Nearly all of the 289 private schools that accept voucher money (and the students whose parents use the vouchers) are religious schools.

    On November 21, the Indiana Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case challenging the program’s constitutionality on Establishment-Clause grounds. A trial court judge had upheld the law, and the Supreme Court decided to accept a direct appeal (these are rare) rather than wait for the case to go first to an intermediate appellate court.

    I don’t know how many of these private schools teach or promote creationist garbage, but we Hoosiers do have a problem (although probably smaller than Louisiana’s problem): A creationist education bill was introduced in last year’s legislative session by a fundagelical from northeastern Indiana and attracted numerous co-sponsors before it was allowed to die in committee. Now we have Republican super-majorities in both houses of our General Assembly.

    • Posted November 23, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      Wow – super majorities in both houses is rather scary. Many Hoosier legislators are not particularly enlightened re science and its relationship to law. They are also, unfortunately, willing to listen to very vocal fundamentalist constituencies that accept the myth of the US being a Christian Nation in which their particular brand of Christianity ought to be interwoven with government. Many of us thought that a blue Indiana in 2008 did not indicate a fundamental shift, and 2012 seems to be more characteristic of the populace. One bit of good news is that Richard “God’s Will” Mourdock didn’t win.

  2. Jonathan Smith
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Rubio is a huge embarrassment to the state of Florida.His recent interview with GQ magazine was appallingly stupid. You can find his blather on the Florida Citizens for Science blog http://www.flascience.org/wp/?p=1759

    • Mike Lee
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      I left a comment at that website – couldn’t resist it!

  3. Posted November 22, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    There is a very good chance that either Jindal or Rubio will be the Republican candidate for President in 2016. They’re both young and brown-skinned…but, as we see, they’re both raving loonies.

    Just as we saw a spectacular collapse of the Republican field this year with their choice of supporting the reproductive rights of rapists over those of their victims, I’m going to tentatively suggest that we’ll see a similar collapse in 2016 on the Creationism issue.

    At least, I hope that we see something like that….

    b&

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Rubio “brown-skinned”? Maybe in some abstract ideational sense (in that he’s Cuban, and thus Hispanic, though of a group with a unique U.S. experience).

      But in terms of skin-tone (and social outlook), Rubio is whiter than Obama’s Kansas grandma.

      • Posted November 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        Haven’t you heard? Even one drop of blood makes you impure in the eyes of those who care about such things.

        And Rubio not only has those furrin-sounding names, he takes pride in coming from those dirty pinko commie cubans (and not just in smoking their cigars).

        b&

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted November 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

          The Cuban exile community in South Florida is (to put it mildly) staunchly anti-communist (and may be one of the few anywhere to actually observe the embargo on island cigars, though not so much when it comes to sending financial assistance back to family members stuck in Cuba). Indeed, Rubio first ran into credibility trouble when he got caught trimming his family history to align more closely with the archetypical anti-Castro mythos of El Exilio.

          • Posted November 23, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            There you go again, confounding my faith-based portrait of Rubio with those librul facts of yours. Don’t you understand that it’s perception that creates conservative realities, and that the perception is that Rubio wears Mariachi hats to Salsa parties where he eats lots of bean burritos and drinks tequila and his skin is darker than Ricardo Montalbán’s?

            Ergo, he’s going to carry over 80% of the Hispanic vote in 2016 and ride their sweet wet backs all the way to the Lily White House. Because that’s all that them brown-skinned people care about, after all — putting somebody they think is as Spanish as they are in power. Stuff like fair immigration laws and strong protections for low-wage workers and a healthy social safety net and universal health care and ending the war on (some) drugs and all the rest — that doesn’t matter.

            None of that matters. Just skin color, and, as far as the Republicans are concerned that the lettuce-pickers are concerned, Rubio fits that bill perfectly because his skin is brown.

            And we know that that’s a winning strategy because rMoney would have won if it weren’t for all that voter fraud stuff, right?

            Cheers,

            b&

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted November 23, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

              Seems you’ve struck the perfect blend of cynicism, sarcasm, and Tea-Parody thinking. That should set you back on course to realize the Rovian ideal of a permanent Republican majority. No way the reality-based community can compete with that. Whatever happens, don’t change a thing. You can’t lose … unless the other side stoops to massive voter fraud and buying off the unproductive half the electorate with promises to buy it lots and lots of “stuff.”

  4. Ray Moscow
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I went to public high school in Louisiana. Back then, we weren’t taught much about evolution, but at least they didn’t openly teach creationism in science classes.

  5. raven
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    My Reading a while back indicated that there was no mechanism for statewide assessment of these private schools. That would be achievement tests of one sort or another.

    Without measuring, you don’t know where you are or where you are going.

    The state of Louisiana could produce of whole generation of near illiterate kids and not even know it.

    Can anyone confirm if that is the case? If it is, it is a serious failing.

    Out here we have charter schools. They are monitored pretty closely by the state and failing ones are told to improve or shut down.

  6. raven
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    One of the drivers for these private religious schools funded by public tax money is…MONEY.

    It can be quite profitable.

    Since they don’t care if they teach the kids, they don’t hire real teachers. In a lot of cases, the teachers are considered contract employees and don’t get much in the way of benefits, no pension plan, no health insurance.

    They also don’t get paid much and some will have a large number of part time teachers to get around various employment rules.

    What they don’t pay the teachers can go to the administration which owns the school. PROFIT!!!

  7. SLC
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Ah yes, Bobby Jindal, biology major and graduate of Brown Un. What say Ken Miller?

    • Rik Smith
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Miller wrote a nice critique of Jindal’s anti-science tactics in an article in Slate back in July (when Jindal was being considered as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney).

      http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/07/bobby_jindal_possible_vice_presidential_pick_but_has_a_creationism_problem_.html

      • Posted November 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        “what say Ken Miller”

        Yeah, I was hoping for a reply from Ken as well to my same day comment:

        Regarding the 2008 Bill, letters and signed petitions were numerous, including a 6/12/08 Press Release issued by Barry Lynn, lawyer and Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

        Direct quote: “If this new law is used to promote religion in Louisiana public schools, I can guarantee there will be legal action.”

        And there have been no legal actions thus far. Instead, LDOE (Louisiana Dept. of Education}) standards within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) appear to be on the increase.

        In December 2011, Louisiana was awarded a $17.4 million “Race to the Top” grant by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE). The R2T was authorized through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and was designed to encourage states to adopt aggressive reforms and place an emphasis on enriching Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives.

        http://www.louisianaschools.net/topics/r2t_plan.ht

        I see no problems, given the Constitutional restrictions and curriculum based limitations based on prior court cases, nor do I see the emergence of a flat-earth society or a return to geocentricism. Science will be pursued as before.

        17 clicks on ‘MORE’ comments to see mine and some responses.

        But Jindal has pissed me off on occasion, in particular regarding his numerous disparaging remarks during the preceding presidential campaign.

        I’m as liberal as they come on most issues, but see extreme ‘Creationism’ as a non-threat within science. And I see no problems with the current Louisiana bill, sans the futile efforts of a few, due to firm constitutional restrictions regarding the teaching of religious platitudes. That will never come to pass!

        However, the simple addition within evolutionary theory of an adjunctive hypothesis of design [not in totality, but simply selectively and investigatively], will ameliorate the present conflict over ToE theory. And, it will NOT demean science.

        In short, a more open investigative posture regarding a non-replicable theory is clearly on the table, correction: lab bench. The current AAAS position on ID simply continues to fuel the flames of a non-ending conflict between restrained science and true investigative science.

        • raven
          Posted November 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          However, the simple addition within evolutionary theory of an adjunctive hypothesis of design [not in totality, but simply selectively and investigatively], will ameliorate the present conflict over ToE theory.

          In other words if science and normal people cave into creationism and wild eyed xian fanatics, then there won’t be any conflict.

          Why should we lie about a basic and well established theory that underlies all biology because backwards people in a backwards place can’t handle reality?

          What will kill creationism is the death of US xianity, a process well under way thanks to the fundies and creationists.

          >blockquote>And, it will NOT demean science.

          Yeah it will.

          Intelligent Design, which you are advocating is creationism, lightly disguised. It’s lost in court whenever it has managed to even get in court.

        • raven
          Posted November 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          BTW Lee Bowman is a creationist. He has a history on the net.

          Did I run off Lee Bowman (ID Promoter) as well???? – Groups – Yahoo!
          groups. yahoo.com/ group/ Maury_and_Baty/message/28377

          25 Aug 2012 –
          Did I run off Lee Bowman (ID Promoter) as well? …

          Some of you may be aware of the brief exchange I had on The Christian Post with Lee Bowman regarding Intelligent Design (ID). … This is why Intelligent Design Creationism …

          • Posted November 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            “It’s lost in court.”

            ID, properly understood, has not lost in court.

            Here is the corrected link:

            http://www.christianpost.com/news/atheist-professor-intelligent-design-arguments-should-be-taken-seriously-80427/

            Click on Sort by ‘Oldest’

            Or search “lee bowman”, “raven”, and “intelligent design” for more of our exchanges.

            One of the best exchanges was at the http://www.brownandwhite in defense of Behe, and which they have now removed.

            ‘Creationism’ is a non-sequitur regarding ID.

            • raven
              Posted November 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

              Lee Bowman is more than a bit odd. That is about as nice as I can put it after reading some of his postings, found through Google.

              “It’s lost in court.”

              ID, properly understood, has not lost in court.

              Yeah it has. You are just making stuff up.

              BTW, I did glance at the christianpost exchange. I’ve seen enough. It’s a holiday, and I’ve got things to do and am not going to bother. If anyone wants to exchange with Lee Bowman, go ahead but don’t expect much.

              • Posted November 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

                “I’ve seen enough. It’s a holiday, and I’ve got things to do and am not going to bother.”

                It’s been said that we’re entering a new era of enlightenment. It’s been termed ‘Black Friday via the Internet.’

                Cheers, but don’t over-spend.

            • Posted November 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

              ID, properly understood, has not lost in court.

              Erm, sorry, but it did lose.

              It lost most spectacularly.

              We’re talking the Titanic getting nuked from orbit by the Death Star spectacularly. I mean, even its ashes are toast.

              b&

              • Posted November 23, 2012 at 12:14 am | Permalink

                “It lost most spectacularly.”

                This lawyer takes no position on ID’s validity per se, just the question of jurisprudence in ruling on a scientific hypothesis.

                http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/01/but_is_id_science001890.html

                Jones of course focused on ID’s political ramifications, which he based solely upon skewed testimony, the school board’s actions, a book which misrepresented ID, and of course a quick course in biology 101 with no homework assignments or exams, just smiles and nods of approval from the gallery.

                The honorary degrees and paid speaking engagements came later, after his 139 page double spaced dissertation hit the air waves. And where was Death Star when we needed it most?

                I’ll restate, emphasis mine:

                “ID, properly understood, has not lost in court.”

              • Posted November 23, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

                Then enlighten us.

                What, exactly, is this “proper” understanding of “Magic Man Done It” that would survive a court challenge?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Posted November 23, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

                Just three points:

                1) I’ve defined ID’s “proper” understanding above (and beyond).

                2) In my provided link, Michael Francisco properly delineates and summarizes Court deciding limitations:

                Judges should only be deciding matters of law, not declaring as authoritative his opinion on matters of politics, or philosophy, or science.

                3) I prefer Michael Zimmerman’s takes on ‘Creation Science 101′

                But let’s leave it at that, as we’ve digressed from the original topic.

                Cheers

              • Posted November 23, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

                Correction:

                That’s ‘Roy’ Zimmerman, rather than Michael, the Clergy Letter Project guy.

  8. marksolock
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  9. Posted December 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what the website etiquette rule is about commenting on old posts like this, but great news is too rare to pass up. Yesterday (Friday, 30 Nov.) a Baton Rouge, LA, judge ruled Jindal’s voucher program unconstitutional, specifically for diverting public funds to private and parochial schools. Finally, some much needed good news out of this state.

  10. Ms. Claiborne
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m embarrassed! Louisiana Claibornes are notorious skeptics with a long history of public service at the local and Congressional level. Plenty to be embarrassed about in current day Louisiana though- Karl stove keeps lurking around the Governors Mansion and ALEC legislation keeps turning up. Jindal is highly questioned here too, his behavior runs from the Cheney to the bizarre!
    We long for Edwin Edwards- we got value for the graft! Jindal is looting the Medicaid program and has sold public medicine, LSU medicine, to The Church. He’s a thief and a scumball.

    • Ms. Claiborne
      Posted December 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      That’s Karl Rove lurking… Baton Rouge reeks of pork and piggy.


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