The crazy bill we wrote about here, Louisiana’s HB 580: The Flat-Earth Option, was scheduled for a floor debate in the Louisiana state House today.
It passed — yeas 86, nays 5. Now it’s on to the Senate.
However, the latest version of this bill, HOUSE BILL NO. 580 (10-page pdf file), has been substantially amended and it’s considerably different from what we wrote about earlier. But not everything is different. On page 2, Section F says:
The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [that’s BESE] shall not restrict the amount or percentage of state or local funds a public school governing authority may expend for the purchase of printed or electronic textbooks, instructional materials, or other education-related media or content or their means of distribution or access whether or not they are on the state list of recommended textbooks and other instructional materials.
And on page 5, Section I (1) of the bill authorizes “a public elementary or secondary school governing authority to contract with a textbook publishers” under procedures established by BESE.
We’re not certain, but it still seems to us that if this becomes law, a local school could bypass BESE’s “recommended” list of textbooks, and go shopping for books of its own choosing — with state money. Therefore, what we’ve called the “Flat Earth Option” for local schools still seems to be available.
It’s difficult to slog through this legislative verbiage, so it’s possible that we’re reading this bill incorrectly. We could be way off in our concerns. Adding to our uncertainty is the fact that no one else seems the least bit alarmed about this, so maybe we’re all worked up over nothing.
Even with our doubts, we think this is worth mentioning. But maybe it doesn’t matter anyway, even if we’re right. Let’s try to keep things in perspective. We’re talking about Louisiana; it’s difficult to imagine things getting worse than they already are.
[Addendum: Alternate source for information on the bill, in case the one we gave above isn’t working: LA House Bill 580 – 2011 Regular Session.]
[2nd Addendum: Barbara Forrest has just posted about this legislation: Press Release: HB 580 — yet another Louisiana stealth creationism bill (no, seriously).]
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