Louisiana Law To Allow ‘Alternative Science Texts’ In Public Schools

Amie Newman

The Louisiana Senate just passed a bill to allow public school teachers to "supplement" their science materials specifically addressing evolution and global warming in the bill itself.

One of the mangled messes that will be left in the wake of President Bush’s presidency is what’s been done to science – evidence-based scientific study (whether that pertains to, for example, evolution vs. intelligent design, comprehensive sexual health education vs. abstinence-only programs or the ever popular conflation of contraception with abortion).

I’m the first to acknowledge that a scientific area like physics, in particular quantum physics, is an exercise in creativity, suspension of disbelief and, to some extent, maybe even spirituality. It takes a leap of faith to believe in some parts of quantum theory, though based on solid scientific research, mind-blowing nonetheless. As Niels Bohr has said, "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it."

Louisiana’s newest legislation to pass the Senate, therefore, shouldn’t be so mind-blowing to me. But it is.

By a vote of 36-0 (!), the Louisiana Senate passed the Louisiana Science Education Act (SB 733) – a bill that allows public school teachers to "supplement" their science textbooks with materials of their choosing – leaving a gaping hole for, say, religious or intelligent design content to walk right through.

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Baton Rouge’s KATC.com writes,

"Supporters say the bill is designed to promote critical thinking, strengthen education and help teachers who are confused about what’s acceptable for science classes."

and

"would allow public school teachers [to] change how they teach topics like evolution, cloning and global warming." 

In fact, the bill cites those three topics specifically in its text.

Change how they teach global warming? To what? And "changing how they teach evolution" is barely veiled. What is the scientific alternative to teaching evolution? Oh, right, there is none. It’s called religion.

The bill also provides that the State Board of Education for Elementary and Secondary Schools can prohibit supplementary science materials they deem "inappropriate" – as in, say, evolution.

The Daily Women’s Health Policy Report has this to say:

"…opponents of the measure said it would be difficult for the board to ensure that religious materials were not being distributed to students at any of the 69 school districts in the state."

Isn’t that exactly what the board wants?

The bill now heads to Governor Jindal’s desk – a man who has been vocal in his support for…intelligent design.

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