Louisiana Capitol’s Schools Teach Creationism

The outlook for science education in Louisiana continues to decline. Two of our clandestine operatives told us about this article in The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is the state’s capitol and its second-largest city. They have this headline: Teaching science policy approved.

Science teaching policy? What’s wrong with that? Ah, but this is coming from Louisiana. As you know, back in 2008 Louisiana became the first state in the US to pass an anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism “Academic Freedom” law modeled after the Academic Freedom Act promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

That infamous piece of legislation is the Louisiana Science Education Act (the “LSEA”). The legislature passed it almost unanimously. The bill was promoted by the Louisiana Family Forum, run by Rev. Gene Mills, and it was signed by the state’s ambition-crazed governor, Bobby Jindal, the Exorcist.

The public schools in Baton Rouge are run by the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools. It has twelve districts, among them is the Central Community School District, which is the subject of today’s news. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The Central Community School Board approved a policy Monday that supports its science teachers if they decide to wade into scientific controversies, including teaching students about alternatives to the theory of evolution.

Isn’t that lovely? If teachers want to teach the kiddies about science using Genesis as a textbook, the Board will support them. The story continues:

“We believe this resolution will give teachers the academic freedom they deserve to teach the controversy where appropriate,” said Board member Jim Lloyd, who made the motion to approve the new policy.

Academic freedom! Teach the controversy! Jimbo has all the code-words memorized and can spew them out as required.

We’re not alone in noticing Jimbo’s mastery of creationist Newspeak. The newspaper interviewed Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, co-author of Creationism’s Trojan Horse, a founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, and a star witness for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. They say:

Barbara Forrest … who has written about clashes between religion and science, said the new policy is unnecessary and includes telling phrases such as a call to teach the “strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”

“It’s absolutely creationist code language that we’ve some come up again and again in other states,” Forrest said.

Creationist code language in Louisiana? Shocking! Well, it’s not surprising when you look at Jimbo’s own website: MY DECISION TO HOME EDUCATE, which says:

We had a desire to accomplish several things through this commitment. First, we wanted the privilege of teaching our children. We wanted to be the largest influence in their lives. And we desired to teach them our biblical worldview.

Now all the kids in the district can have the same education that Jimbo gave his own kids. Let’s read on:

Lloyd and Board President Jim Gardner said they’ve been interested in having such a policy for a while. They noted Louisiana in 2008 approved the Science Education Act, which allows science teachers to address controversies such as alternatives to evolution.

Jim Lloyd and Jim Gardner. That’s two Jimbos — both of them rabid creationists. We continue:

The new policy received little discussion Monday and no one spoke against it. After the policy passed in a 6-0 vote, a handful of people in the audience indicated their approval with smiles and thumbs up gestures.

M’god — they’re all creationists! Here’s more:

Superintendent Michael Faulk said the policy has been on the school system’s website for the past two weeks and no one emailed in support or opposition of it. A copy of the policy can be found at this link: Teacher Academic Freedom in Science Education When Covering Controversial Scientific Subjects.

It’s only two paragraphs long, loaded with creationist code-words. The thing could have been drafted by the Discoveroids. Then the article returns to the interview with Barbara Forrest:

Forrest, who opposed the Science Education Act and has pushed for its repeal, said the language in Central’s policy and in the supporting documentation is commonly used by the Louisiana Family Forum, a social conservative advocacy group, and by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank. … “The only reason to do this is to give the teachers in Central some cover for teaching creationism,” she said.

You know it, we know it, and all the Jimbos on the Board of the Central Community School District know it. The difference is that they’re happy about it. Good luck, kiddies! You’ll need it.

See also: Creationist Wisdom #269: Louisiana Physician.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Louisiana Capitol’s Schools Teach Creationism

  1. If I were a science teacher in a system governed by this policy, I would insert a brief unit examining creation accounts from several cultures (e.g. Navajo, Norse, Hindu, and Aboriginal Australian, as well as Hebrew) and ask students to analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

    No doubt parents and school board members who are fans of the Genesis story would object loudly, and quite appropriately, to the Pagan content. Some of them might begin to see that myth doesn’t really belong in any science class except anthropology.

  2. Can anyone say “Kitzmiller”?

  3. There must be something in the water in Louisiana, or else they’ve gotten a tad literal about smoking crawdads.

  4. What a golden opportunity for any teacher willing enough, or perhaps daring enough, to teach the strengths(?) and weaknesses(!) of creationism. Mention that to the school board & likely you’d be tarred & feathered, then run out of town. Nonetheless, if academic freedom is such that they claim, then one could readily approach it in this manner and kick adversity in the face. Likely, though, any teacher so daring would quickly be replaced with a creationist automaton.

  5. perfect opportunity for someone to file suit and finally do this thing in in the courts.

  6. To Louisiana, in the immortal words of Gilbert Godfrey: You fool!

    The state can’t give a teacher “cover” from violating the Constitution. That’s what got the DASD in trouble in Dover. Didn’t matter if the school board voted the sky pink, ain’t gonna fly.

    Any Louisiana teacher stupid enough to teach creationism in school will find their district in federal court faster than you can say Tammy Kitzmiller, and with the same outcome. Of course, the real perps of the crime, namely the Discovery Institute, Gene Mills and Louisiana legislators will be watching from the sidelines out of harm’s way and with no accountability. The bill will be paid by Louisiana taxpayers. Nice job, y’all!

  7. Since when have states like this chosen to submit to federal authority? They don’t care that, according to the Constitution, they can’t teach Creationism in public schools. This isn’t a new trend. Southern states have often “forgotten” that they lost the civil war, and federal law is greater than state law. And when this policy get’s reversed, they’ll just make new one, just as bad. They don’t care that their policies can’t last, and they certainly don’t care that the ones actually being hurt by this is the children. They ain’t gonna let no gummint tell them what to do!

  8. @Doc Bill:
    It’s Gottfried, actually – not Godfrey. I’ll bet he gets that all the time.

  9. LA Central Community School District directive enjoins (my emphasis):

    The School System shall endeavor to create an environment within the schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately to differences of opinion about controversial issues.

    The first parts of this injunction are entirely laudable IMHO, and, as I think on it, even the highlighted final section is acceptable on the grounds that, as Kitzmiller/Dover exhaustively established, Creationism/ID is not science and therefore cannot be part of a scientific ‘controversy’.

    And as for what constitutes an ‘appropriate response’ to mere opinions in questions of science, a simple raspberry suffices. End of story.

  10. @ J Meyers: thanks for link to that remarkable ‘stock letter’, which is astonishing, particularly the concern to shield children from

    Occultic principles and practices – witchcraft, black magic, spirit guides, Satanism, wizardry, new age, channelling, astrology, horoscopes, psychic powers and other such practices, which are contradictory to Judeo-Christian principles

    I would hope that a teacher receiving such a stock letter will duly send an alert home warning that today’s class would include a reference to Exodus 22:18, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live

  11. @Megalonyx: You actually inspired me to go and look at the policy for science education where I live, southern Rhode Island. I’m actually pretty happy with it. (I’ve blocked the name of the town).

    The Mission Statement of the Town School Department states the belief that all students are capable of learning and becoming self-directed learners, and that they have a desire to learn. Effective instruction and a program that provides many opportunities for exploration and experimentation reflects that belief and demonstrates the understanding that students learn most effectively when they are active participants in their learning. The Town School Department science curriculum is designed to foster student’s development of content knowledge as well as understanding and appreciation of scientific tools and processes. Even more importantly, our hands-on, inquiry-based science curriculum will help to develop higher level thinking skills such as problem solving, prediction, deductive and inductive reasoning, and cause and effect.

    I like that it’s goal is to teach students to ask questions, but, more importantly, to understand how science actually works. This is what I think a science education policy should look like.

  12. What??? It’s not Arthur Gottfried?

    After all these years …

  13. Its lawsuit time in Louisiana. Thank you Jimbo.

  14. @J.Meyers
    Thank you for the link. Scary stuff, though. Isn’t it great to observe obstructionism now commonly being used as a strategy – even in primary school education? I truly cannot imagine what teachers will do if parental behavior, such as the examples described, become the norm.

  15. Washington Post Sunday Comics September 16th, Doonesbury. Enough said.

  16. Concerned In Central

    Let me be perfectly clear and transparent that I do believe in my faith and religious values and try to bestow that faith and belief to my child as part of responsible parenting. As the parent of a child in the above referenced school system I knew what this new “policy” was the moment I first read about it being adopted. I find it to be a disturbing and veiled attempt to teach creationism and bring religion into the classrooms.

    This is nothing new to the Central Community schools. In the fifth grade my child was give a Gideon Book of Psalms at school as a “gift”. Young children in the lower grades are regularly taken outside to gather around the flag pole to “say a prayer” under the guise of a remembrance of 9/11 or support the troops overseas or some other patriotic gesture. I knew it wouldn’t be long before the school administration here would try something like this.

    If you raise your voice or speak out against anything associated with the school system here you will be immediately publicly heckled, berated, shunned, chastised, and ostracized in the community. I wouldn’t put it past some members of this community to actually resort to criminal damaging or vandalism or worse (violence) to make sure you get the point to keep your mouth shut. This time the school administration has gone too far though and I am currently looking for legal support, support from other parents, (which I’m sure will be little if any due to the political and religious climate in this town and the fear I spoke of above), and gathering information to fight with once this new policy starts to be implemented in the schools.

    I will be doing whatever I can to stop this “policy” from becoming reality here in Central. It is not the school systems job to try and indoctrinate my child with their creationists beliefs or teach what they think my child should believe. This policy does not teach or expand science in the classroom as science is based on fact and proven theories. Beliefs are based on faith. There is no credible scientific evidence to support the “opposing views” (creationism, intelligent design, etc..) to scientific subjects such as evolution. Global warming and cloning were thrown into the language of the policy to try and conceal the real reason this policy was adopted.

    This is simply an attempt by groups such as the Louisiana Family Forum and the Discovery Institute, and others to try and take a foothold in our school system just like they have in other small community school systems across the country. They have repeatedly changed the language in their policies to try and elude the constitutional law protecting public schools in the separation of church and state from introducing creationism or religious teachings in the classroom. If you look at the current language of this new “policy” you will find the same wording in other attempts that were successfully challenged in other cities across the nation and struck down by the courts.

    The Central Community School System is going to have a fight on their hands once they try and institute this new policy in the schools here. Not only from myself, but any other organization or legal entity I can find to help support me in my fight and strike down this attempt at indoctrination.

  17. Good comment, Concerned In Central. I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty to break it up into a few paragraphs to make it easier to read.

  18. Concerned In Central

    I don’t mind at all. Thank you for breaking it down. I should have broken it up myself but I am just so incensed at this new policy and what harm can come from it that I just went on a rant and didn’t think to stop and paragraph or paraphrase anything. Our school system is not very old and is considered by many in the community to be the crowning jewel in our town’s incorporation and breakaway from the East Baton Rouge city government and the EBR school system. The schools are more or less considered to be the golden child of our community. If one were to take an in depth look at the community and school system you would find more than a few instances of things being swept under the rug or glossed over in an attempt to maintain a pristine image. As DavidK says in a comment above “Mention that to the school board & likely you’d be tarred & feathered, then run out of town.” Only it’s not just the school board that a member of this community has to be afraid of, it’s a small group of elected officials in the school administration, city government, and even state government and their supporters in this city. Otherwise I would have used my real name in my posting instead of a pseudonym.

  19. @Concerned: Good comments indeed. Have you contacted http://ncse.com/taking-action ?

  20. Concerned In Central

    @Tomato Addict, thank you for the information. I wasn’t aware of that particular organization but will definitely look them over and add them to my arsenal. This is a very slippery slope that our school board has chosen to walk and If they do decide that they want to defend this policy in court they will surely lose, What may seem like good intentions to stimulate more thought provoking discussion in science class is actually going to bring this school system to it’s knees in a not so flattering light, hurting not only the school administration but the entire community.