Dr. Barbara Forrest, a star witness for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, has been waging an almost single-handed campaign for science and reason in Louisiana. She’s been working tirelessly — alas, to no avail so far — first against the passage, and now against the implementation of Louisiana’s anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism “Academic Freedom” bill modeled after the so-called Academic Freedom Act promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).
We gave you a bit of recent news about the deplorable events in that creationist state a couple of weeks ago: Louisiana Creationism: Wolves Guarding Sheep. But now Barbara has issued a press release that blows the lid off of the secret, behind-the-scenes intrigue and maneuvering going on in her state. You can read about it at her website, Louisiana Coalition for Science, here: For Immediate Release: Creationists Continue to Dictate BESE Science Education Policy. This is an information-filled article.
Barbara has flipped over the flat rock and exposed the squirming creatures beneath. She names names and takes no prisoners. Here are a few excerpts, with bold added by us:
On September 16, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [BESE] ignored the recommendations of science education professionals in the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) and allowed the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a Religious Right lobbying group, to dictate the procedure concerning complaints about creationist supplementary materials used in public school science classes under the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). … As a result, the prerogatives of the DOE professional science education staff have been severely undermined, as explained below. The audiotape of the meeting shows that Bayard and the LFF pulled off a royal snow job at this meeting.
LFF director Rev. Gene Mills, whose own children do not attend public schools, attended the meeting but did not speak. Among the creationists testifying was University of Louisiana-Lafayette professor John W. Oller, Jr., who is a member of the “Technical Advisory Board” of the young-earth creationist Institute for Creation Research in Dallas, Texas. … Also testifying at the September 16 meeting was Charles Voss, vice-president of the creationist Origins Resource Association, who attempted in 1994 to persuade the Livingston Parish School Board to adopt a creationist curriculum guide. … [Another witness was] Wade Warren, a creationist at Louisiana College who works cooperatively with the Discovery Institute (DI), the creationist think tank in Seattle, WA, that helped write the LSEA.
In short, as BESE’s complaint procedure is now drafted, DOE’s expert reviewers will be in the minority, and DOE staff will not be allowed to independently assess the reviewers’ reports but must instead transfer the reports directly to BESE for evaluation. Judging from BESE members’ consistent concessions to LFF creationists concerning the implementation of the LSEA, their evaluations will be unlikely to favor scientific expertise and professionalism. On the contrary, BESE’s actions since the passage of the LSEA indicate that the board will rubber-stamp anything that Bayard and the LFF recommend. The approved procedure will enable creationists and their allies to turn every complaint about creationist materials into a dog and pony show that they can manipulate and exploit.
The passage of the LSEA — and BESE’s subsequent adoption of whatever policies the creationists at the LFF dictate — have damaged Louisiana’s already tarnished image in the rest of the country. In fact, these actions have done tangible harm to the state. In February 2009, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) notified Gov. Jindal that the SICB will hold its 2011 convention in Utah rather than New Orleans because of his signing the LSEA. SICB will boycott Louisiana as long as the LSEA remains on the books.
That’s only a sample. Here’s a link to the actual press release: Creationists Continue to Dictate BESE Science Education Policy (pdf file).
Barbara’s article and press release are required reading for those interested in science education. Don’t be misled into thinking that Louisiana is a small, hopelessly backward state, and what happens there is of no importance elsewhere. That state is being used as a testing ground for a nationwide theocratic effort to literally undo the Enlightenment. If the creationists’ schemes to reverse the progress of the last ten generations are successful in Louisiana, they’ll be deployed elsewhere. So pay attention.
Good work, Barbara! Now let’s hope your press release gets the press attention it deserves.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.