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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.

Statement on the Student/School Performance and Support Committee Decision Concerning Biology Textbooks

Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Louisiana Coalition for Science

December 7, 2010

The Louisiana Coalition for Science wishes to thank the Student/School Performance and Support Committee of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for approving quality biology textbooks for the students of Louisiana. We are pleased and proud that the board has done the right thing. As a result, students in Louisiana public schools will have the most current, up-to-date information about biology, including the theory of evolution, which is the strongest explanation of the history and development of life on Earth ever constructed.

We also wish to thank the staff in the Louisiana Department of Education, the experts who served on the Textbook Adoption Committee for the Life Sciences, and the eight members of the Textbook Advisory Council who recommended approval of the textbooks. BESE’s decision today shows that the board respects the dedication and expertise of these public servants.

We also hope that today’s decision spells the end of the harmful influence of the Louisiana Family Forum over science education policy in Louisiana. The Louisiana Family Forum, which is responsible for the passage of the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act, is a religious organization that has promoted creationism throughout its history. The creationist agenda has been discredited over and over again, in state after state, and in federal court, for almost half a century. While we respect the right of all citizens to embrace the religious faith of their choice, the integrity of the public school science curriculum and the separation of church and state must be respected by our public officials. Students in our public schools deserve the best science education we can give them. Thanks to today’s decision, they won’t have to wait any longer for decent textbooks.

Finally, we wish to thank Louisiana’s public school science teachers and the parents who send their children to public schools for helping to sustain the institution that offers the best hope for a better life for everyone in Louisiana.


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