Louisiana Science Education Remains in Chaos

WE’VE BEEN WAITING for some news out of Louisiana about how they’re going to handle the miraculous “academic freedom” bestowed upon them by their creationist legislature. That governmental organ, in its wisdom, passed the misleadingly named “Louisiana Science Education Act,” which authorizes the use of unspecified “supplementary materials” — wink, wink — for teaching evolution in state-run science classes.

Our last article on this was: Louisiana’s BESE: Where Are You? “BESE” refers to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which seems to have the legal authority to make rules for approving those “supplementary materials.”

There’s finally some news to report. The Times-Picayune has this article: Briefing Book: News and views from the Louisiana Capitol, in which we read:

Science policy in flux: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will not for several months finalize its policy on the recently adopted Science Education Act, which would allow supplemental materials other than textbooks to be part of science lessons on global warming, evolutionary biology and cloning.

Great. Months of chaos lie ahead. Reading some more:

But board member David Bayard, D-Sulphur, said last week that his colleagues should adopt a policy that allows teachers “to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories.” That language is part of a resolution that Bayard pitched as a guideline as Department of Education officials work on drafting rules and regulations.

Ah yes, the “strengths and weaknesses.” We are somehow getting the idea that David Bayard may be part of the creationist team. Reading some more:

The new law would allow local school boards to approve the materials used in the classrooms under their control. BESE would retain veto power over materials, though it appears local schools board will not have to notify the state of what it has approved at the local level.

Seems like a nice, orderly situation. We congratulate the Louisiana legislature on a fine piece of legislative draftsmanship. More from the article:

Bayard’s resolution has drawn fire from critics who say the effort is designed to force biblical creation and religious doctrine into public school science curriculum.

How very surprising. Another excerpt:

The legislative sponsor, Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, has said throughout the process that the law is designed only to improve the quality and breadth of science instruction in Louisiana.

All creationists say things like that. And if you believe them, well … you know what’s coming: We’ve got this great bridge we can let you have at a bargain price.

Final excerpt:

BESE President Linda Johnson, D-Plaquemine, said her priority is to develop a policy that can stand up to federal lawsuits.

Good luck, Linda. But frankly, my dear, the legislature has painted a great big target on your back. There’s no way you can escape what’s coming.

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