Archive for December, 2010

Published by admin on 31 Dec 2010

Power (and bucks) over principle at the Louisiana Family Forum


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By Barbara Forrest

The December 28 Baton Rouge Advocate ran a very nice editorial about Zachary Kopplin’s contribution to the Louisiana Coalition for Science’s successful effort to secure approval of biology textbooks for Louisiana public schools on December 7.

The newest giant-killer in state education policy? A 17-year-old student from Baton Rouge High School, who became the spokesman against new efforts to attack the theory of evolution. . . .

Enter Zack Kopplin, an earnest student who campaigned for sound science and against neo-creationism in schools. Kopplin had some help. Members of BESE were contacted by many people who want Louisiana students to learn the facts of science, not the [Louisiana] Family Forum’s mumbo-jumbo.

But the part that attracted Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) executive director Rev. Gene Mills’s attention was the editorial’s brief reference to his organization. Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 20 Dec 2010

Merry Kitzmas, everybody! A gift from the Louisiana Coalition for Science


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By Barbara Forrest

It’s Kitzmastime! Today, December 20, marks the fifth anniversary of the victory for science education and the Constitution in the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005). As a result of the ruling [pdf] in favor of the plaintiffs delivered by Judge John E. Jones III, we now have a landmark legal opinion that will serve as the resource of first resort for the judge in the next case stirred up either by the creationists at the Discovery Institute or their foot soldiers in Whereverville, USA. This notable pre-Christmas holiday comes on the heels of a victory for science education in Louisiana: the decision by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve new high school biology textbooks for public schools. To celebrate both this local victory and the Kitzmastide anniversary, the Louisiana Coalition for Science has an inspirational Kitzmas present for you. Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 16 Dec 2010

Zachary Kopplin — Another reason that BESE made the right decision about the textbooks


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By Barbara Forrest

On December 7, the day that the Student/School Performance and Support Committee (SSPS) of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted to approve new biology textbooks, Zachary Kopplin’s letter to the Shreveport Times was published: “La. students need proper scientific textbooks without creationism.” Zack is a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School who assisted the Louisiana Coalition for Science in making the case to the SSPS Committee for approving the textbooks. (He also testified at the November 12, 2010, meeting of the Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council. See his picture here.) As his senior project at school, he has chosen to mount an effort to have the Louisiana Science Education Act repealed. Readers of this website will be hearing much more about this effort in the near future. (See Repealcreationism.com.)

In his Shreveport Times letter, Zack urged BESE to do the right thing and approve the textbooks: “As a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, I feel strongly that BESE should immediately adopt proper science textbooks that teach evolution without any disclaimers, revisions or supplementary materials.” He also addressed creationists’ misunderstanding of evolution: “[C]reationists also pretend there are ‘flaws’ in the theory of evolution. There are no flaws. In fact the National Academy of Sciences states on their website that because evidence supporting evolution is so strong, ‘scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred, and is continuing to occur. Instead, they investigate the mechanisms of evolution, how rapidly evolution has taken place…’” His letter prompted a December 10 response by Bossier City attorney Ryan E. Gatti.

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Published by admin on 08 Dec 2010

The students won in Louisiana today . . . and again! (Update 12/9/10)


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By Barbara Forrest

UPDATE December 9, 2010, 12:45 p.m. CST — The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education just voted to accept the December 7 approval of the biology textbooks by the Student/School Performance and Support Committee. Dale Bayard remained the sole nay vote. Dale Bayard again voted against accepting the books, as did one other board member Louella Givens in an 8-2 vote. But Merry Christmas anyway, Mr. Bayard!  :)  See the story by the National Center for Science Education here. [end update] The voice of reason carried the day in Louisiana at the meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Educations’s Student/School Performance Committee meeting in Baton Rouge, LA. Seven of the board’s eleven members attended, and six of them voted in a voice vote to approve the proposed biology textbooks. The sole nay vote was committee chair Dale Bayard. Here is a quick announcement in the form of a press release that I sent out this afternoon. There will be more information as time permits. Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 02 Dec 2010

Of Autism and Creationism — A Strange Louisiana Connection (Updated)

“I have no regrets about anything that has happened other than what has happened to the children or what hasn’t happened for them as a consequence of the controversy. I would like to think that I would follow exactly the same course even knowing what the consequences were, if presented with the same challenges again.” — Andrew Wakefield, in “Dr. Andrew Wakefield on the Autism Vaccine Controversy,” Daily Bell, May 30, 2010
“The main deficiencies in the books are in taking a doctrinaire, everything-is-solved attitude, toward just about every problem addressed. . . . They should all be sent back to the publishers as unacceptable.” — John W. Oller, Jr., letter of November 8, 2010, to Louisiana Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council urging that proposed biology textbooks be rejected

By Barbara Forrest

**Note:  Since this post is longer than usual in order to cover the topic adequately, readers may wish to print it. This post has been updated; see below.

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On February 2, 2010, The Lancet, one of the world’s premier medical journals, retracted [pdf] a 1998 article [pdf] in which British physician Andrew Wakefield was lead author (with twelve co-authors).

Following the judgment of the [United Kingdom] General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect. . . . In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.

Wakefield is the now-notorious physician who, by means of this 1998 article, promoted the idea that the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine causes autism. Readers will surely wonder what this has to do with creationism in Louisiana. Please keep reading. There is a connection that highlights once again the error of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in handing over to creationists the policies implementing the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). On Tuesday, December 7, BESE must decide whether to approve the biology textbooks that have been proposed for adoption by the state. We can only hope that, at that meeting, board members will call a halt to the influence that they have allowed the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) to have over science education policy during the last two years.

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