By Barbara Forrest

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As the new decade begins in 2010, “Top Ten” lists  are a popular way to commemorate the events of 2009, and science is well-represented in the list-making. Wired Science lists the “Top Scientific Breakthroughs of 2009.” The Examiner lists the “Top 10 Science Stories of 2009.” Scientific American has posted a slideshow of “The Top 10 Science Stories of 2009.” ScienceNOW, a website by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for publishing breaking science news , has listed “The Top 10 ScienceNOWs of 2009.” National Geographic News lists the “Top Ten Videos of 2009: Nat Geo News’s Most Watched.” And Religion Dispatches lists its “Top Ten Religion & Science Stories.” Louisiana closes out 2009 by being on two “Top Ten” lists, but these are lists on which the citizens of Louisiana should be embarrassed to be included. Virtually all of the above lists include stories that highlight important discoveries related to evolution. Louisiana, however, made it onto these two lists for its attack on the teaching of evolution.

5. Louisiana faces “academic freedom” In 2008, the Louisiana Science Education Act was signed into law, which opened the door to teaching creationism in public school science classes. Since then, the state board of education has ignored the recommendations of its own science education professionals, turning instead to the Louisiana Family Forum for guidance. Under the board’s guidelines, supplementary classroom materials can’t be rejected just because they include creationism. And challenging the materials triggers a convoluted hearing process that the Louisiana Coalition for Science calls “seriously flawed.”

“A mixed result in Louisiana”

“More bad news from Louisiana”

Louisiana coverage

(See LCFS articles about this here and here.) (NOTE: Readers who value good science education can begin 2010 by joining NCSE, which is the only organization devoted solely to protecting the teaching of evolution from creationist attacks. Disclosure: I serve on the NCSE Board of Directors.)

3. Just Say No . . . To Louisiana The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), one of the nation’s leading scientific societies, took the unusual step in February to boycott Louisiana due to the state’s new anti-science law. In 2008, lawmakers voted to pass the Science Education Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal. The law, based largely on wording from the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute’s sample academic freedom bill, explicitly says that teachers are permitted to use supplemental materials to teach critiques of evolution and opens the door to teaching creationism and intelligent design. In response, SICB chose to hold its annual conference in Utah, whose state Board of Education recently passed a resolution recognizing that “the Theory of Evolution is a major unifying concept in science.”

Looking at the bright side, Louisiana is blessed with dedicated public school science teachers and accomplished scientists. Readers around the state should (1) let your science teachers know that you support teaching evolution and thank them for their efforts to teach good science, and (2) inform your school board members that you will be watching them to make sure that they do not allow creationist materials into our public school science classes. As always, if you learn that such materials are being used, please contact the Louisiana Coalition for Science.

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