NOW that the new school year has begun, we’ve been waiting for the creationism to hit the fan in Louisiana so we can have some litigation to write about. Here’s some background, which most of you can skip:
Louisiana is the only state in the US that can boast of passing an anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism “Academic Freedom” bill modeled after the Academic Freedom Act promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).
That bill, now known as the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), which permits unspecified “supplemental materials” — wink, wink — to be used in science classes, was signed by governor Bobby Jindal, also known as Bobby Jindal, the Exorcist, who is perhaps the world’s only creationist who majored in biology at Brown University.
It appears that we’re not the only ones anticipating controversy in Louisiana.
In the Advocate from Baton Rouge we read: Procedure crafted for handling evolution-materials complaints. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
The state’s top school board Wednesday approved procedures for residents who object to materials that challenge the teaching of evolution in public school science classes. The rules, which were praised by evolution critics, stem from a law approved last year by the Legislature.
If “evolution critics” praise the rules, we know what to expect. Let’s read on:
The department recommended that any complaints undergo an initial review by a three-member panel named by the agency, then go to the state board for a final decision. But Dale Bayard, of Sulphur, chairman of the committee that tackled the issue, changed that and the committee went along.
Bayard is a full-blown, flaming creationist, as we discussed earlier this year. Continuing with today’s news story:
Under Bayard’s change, two reviewers will be named by the department to review the science materials in question as well as one reviewer each named by the challenger, the school and the publisher. The five-member panel will determine whether the materials:
* Promote any religious doctrine, which is banned by the state law.
* Are scientifically sound.
* Are appropriate for the grade.
Bayard’s committee approved the complaint process without arguments.
Let’s think about this. There will be five reviewers — two named by the state Department of Education. So that’s probably two creationists right there. The other three reviewers will be named as follows: one by the challenger (presumably a sane person objecting to classroom creationism); one by the school (probably a creationist); and one by the publisher of the creationist material (unquestionably a flaming creationist). So in most cases, there will be four creationists on the five-member review panel. All clear now?
Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum Action, praised the rules and said Bayard’s plan was better than the department’s recommendation.
“Arguably this is the closest thing that would mimic due process,” Mills said in a telephone interview after the meeting. “That seems equitable to me.”
Mills seems to know even less about due process than he does science. Moving along:
Barbara Forrest of Holden, a professor and co-founder of the LA Coalition for Science, said in a telephone interview after the meeting that she was not aware that a committee of the state board was discussing the issue on Wednesday.
Forrest, who has criticized the law, called Bayard a point man for the Louisiana Family Forum.
Barbara got blind-sided on this one. The committee must have intentionally done their work in secret to avoid her customarily keen scrutiny.
So there you are. The “review” procedure for any parent brave enough to object to creationist material is an absolute farce. But that’s the procedure which must be followed before the litigation can commence.
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