Discoveroids Are Upset about South Dakota

We recently wrote South Dakota: Three Creationist Bills Dead. It was mostly about that state’s second creationist bill, which we described in South Dakota Has Another One for 2019.

It was the kind of creationist bill promoted by the Discoveroids, authorizing teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, about which see Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws. As we said there, the only “weakness” of evolution is that it doesn’t rely on Oogity Boogity.

To no one’s surprise, the Discoveroids are upset. They just posted In South Dakota, More Groundless Alarm about Academic Freedom. It was written by Sarah Chaffee, whom we call “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

South Dakota’s HB 1270, proposed this year, was a simple, straightforward academic freedom bill. [Hee hee!] Unfortunately, it did not pass, but I would like to correct some misconceptions that came up in the House.

She’s going to “correct some misconceptions”? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Discoveroids — like all creationists — thrive on misconceptions. She says:

The House Education Committee discussed the bill at length. I will address part of the dialogue, which I transcribed from the state’s audio of the hearing:

Most of what follows is boring. Savvy Sarah dismisses the possibility that such legislation could cause lawsuits — but there’s no mention in her post of cases like Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District or any other cases creationists have lost. Instead she quotes some Committee discussion and then tells us:

Contrary to his assertion that school districts should expect “a number of lawsuits,” Louisiana has had an academic freedom law similar to HB 1270 on the books since 2008, and Tennessee since 2012. Neither state has been subjected to lawsuits because of these laws.

True, there’s been no litigation about those laws in those states. Not yet. Maybe they’re populated by creationists. She also dismisses some other issues that were raised in the Committee and concludes with this:

In sum, academic freedom bills like South Dakota’s HB 1270 are limited, proven legislation. [Proven?] The alarm that is habitually raised is groundless.

So what do we learn from this? Regardless of what Savvy Sarah says, we definitely don’t come away assured that such a law wouldn’t result in litigation. If history is any guide in such matters — and it is — take a look at the National Center for Science Education’s list of major court cases holding that teaching creationism in public schools is Unconstitutional.

Anyway, the Discoveroids are still promoting these laws, and that’s the key lesson of Savvy Sarah’s post. Any state foolish enough to pass such a thing is deserving of the consequences. And if, as with Louisiana and Tennessee, there have been no consequences yet, they are nevertheless deserving of our ridicule.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to “Discoveroids Are Upset about South Dakota

  1. docbill1351

    True, no school district in Louisiana to date has used the LSEA to litigate a complaint about teaching creationism. However, several school districts have disciplined schools for violating science teaching guidelines. I think the Louisiana school districts recognize that the LSEA isn’t even a fig leaf of protection if they violate the law.

  2. Michael Fugate

    It is not helping Louisiana, they rank consistently in the bottom 10%. They don’t have much data for science, but in math the state is only getting worse. Based on https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/profiles/stateprofile?chort=2&sub=MAT&sj=AL&sfj=NP&st=MN&year=2009R3
    2007 43rd in 8th grade math, 2009 45th, 2013 48th, 2017 50th
    Reading is similarly dismal.

  3. @docbill1351, I got lost in the legal complexities. Are you saying that there are schools that have been disciplined (who by?) for teaching creationism? Or merely for failure to teach evolution? I would like to know more

  4. Someone at DI needs to remind Sarah that the “wedge document” was just a silly marketing plan, not a roadmap for this kind of BS.

  5. “…which I transcribed from the state’s audio of the hearing.”

    Wow, that kind of work must really cut into her sciencey research time. Although I imagine she has a crew of lab assistants and grad students to keep the test tubes polished – or the green screen ironed.

  6. docbill1351

    @PaulB I did not dig up links so this is from recollection. There was a science teacher in Shreveport who proposed a “balanced treatment” syllabus and that got shot down. The same knucklehead may have run for State Legislature, but I haven’t followed it closely. This might have been the case where the school administration was aware of the creationism and turned a blind eye to it because “blessed be he” or whatever.

    There was a teacher who was teaching creationism (maybe in Monroe, La) (I’ll go back, pinkie swear, and get my facts straight) who marked down a student because the answer to the question about how the Earth was created, “The Lord” was answered “incorrectly.” I think she got fired.

    Then there was the Indian kid, a Hindu, who was harassed by the teacher to such an extent (it may have been the case above) that the district moved the kid to another school and his former school was required to pay the transportation costs.

    The bottom line is that, to my knowledge, no school in Louisiana has fought for teaching creationism by invoking the LSEA.

  7. docbill1351

    In Livingston Parish the school board decided to “look into” teaching creationism, but after a very short “look” came to a different conclusion:

    * * * UPDATE * * *

    The Baton Rouge Advocate now reports that “The Livingston Parish School Board won’t try to include the teaching of creationism in this year’s curriculum, but has asked the School Board staff to look at the issue for possible future action.” The exploratory committee the board formed for the purpose of examining the issue is not expected to report its findings in time for action during the 2010-2011 school year. Board president Keith Martin explained, “We have decided not to try to hurry up and rush something in for this year.”

    Don’t be like Dover!

  8. Ah yes, Livingston Parish. That brings back memories. See Bruce Chapman’s Louisiana Damage Control.

  9. @Michael Fugate, thanks. Here is the punchline: “All it will take is for one Louisiana parent or student to sue the state for endorsing religion in public school, and teaching creationism will become illegal again.”

    Yet despite being multiple incidents recorded in the article, nothing has happened. Shameful.

  10. @SC, I can’t download the article (copyright? EU law on cookies?) but it seems clear that the DI learnt its lessons at Dover and is warning Louisiana schools to be very careful

  11. docbill1351

    Dover conjured up the perfect storm. Idiots on the school board, the Thomas More Law firm itching for a test case, cheerleading and faux support from the Disco Tute, and creationist “expert” witnesses eager to blab on the stand. “Intelligent design” creationism suffered 80% third degree burns in that case and never recovered. Nobody in La. is willing to take that on again!

  12. I am not a lawyer, but I bet that any lawyer is going to warn any school board about the consequences for a loss. They got off easy in Dover.

  13. Karl Goldsmith

    Zack Kopplin wrote articles on how creationism is being taught in Louisiana schools.

  14. @TomS: I wouldn’t say they got off easily. Because the suit resulted from their administrative action, they had to pay the entire expenses of the plaintiffs’ team. A lot of money for a small district. And the school board members involved lost their seats in a landslide at the next election.

    I remain puzzled why no parents have created a similar case in Louisiana. They would have plenty of high-powered support. The problem may be documentation of evidence. It was clear that the Dover School Board had instructed the high school principal to introduce Of Pandas and People to the classroom and read a statement about it, but a case based on what was said in class would have to depend on testimony from the children, a lot more difficult to arrange, and a stress that a child should not have to bear.

  15. “I remain puzzled why no parents have created a similar case in Louisiana.”
    Social pressure?

  16. @Paul Braterman
    The schools had to pay $1,000,00 costs rather than the real costs of about
    $2,000,000.

  17. @TomS, you mean of course $1,000,000. Still quite a lot of money.

  18. I just took a look at Lauri Lebo’s “The Devil in Dover”. On page 207, she says that the original estimate of the legal fees was 2.5 million.
    I say that they got off easy to the tune of 1 to 1.5 million.

  19. @TomS, yes, easily by that criterion. but still no minor matter for the District. Though one regrets that the School Board members didn’t suffer financially in person

  20. @Paul Braterman
    About the individuals bearing the cost, I believe that a government official acting in an official capacity is immune. (One might imagine whether even self-proclaied billionaires would be able to bear the costs!)
    But this reminds me of another way that people got off easy. I can’t find tis in Lebo’s book, but my memeory from that 15 years ago is that the judge suggested that investigation for perjury might be warrented.

  21. docbill1351

    @Paul B writes:

    Though one regrets that the School Board members didn’t suffer financially in person

    The district did pay $1 million of the fees, the entire board was voted out, and the new board decided not to appeal. Case closed. The former board members sank into the ooze and the Feds decided not to pursue perjury against one of the defendants.

  22. @Michael Fugate: “It is not helping Louisiana, they rank consistently in the bottom 10%. They don’t have much data for science, but in math the state is only getting worse.”

    43rd and 45th places are not in the bottom 10% of US states.

    Ironic, isn’t it.

  23. Michael Fugate

    One category – is not the whole, but then again it is easy to be an a** – you do it well, I might add. It is harder to actually look at data before commenting….

  24. @Michael Fugate

    Lol.

    I looked at all the data you saw fit to present in support of your a**ertion.