Archive for the 'academic freedom' Category

Published by admin on 13 Feb 2013

Academic Freedom Silliness in Montana — Compared to Academic Freedom Silliness in Louisiana

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By Barbara Forrest

Everyone has heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” With respect to the creationism bill introduced in Montana this year, that should read, “A video clip is worth a thousand words.” Our readers may enjoy (or not) comparing Rep. Clayton Fiscus’s defense of his HB 183 to “to emphasize critical thinking in instruction related to controversial scientific theories on the origin of life” to Louisiana legislators’ responses to Zack Kopplin’s 2011 and 2012 bills to repeal the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). It’s a real contest as to whose legislators are sillier. But as you will see, the outcome in Montana was very different than in Louisiana. Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 14 Jan 2013

Bogus Louisiana Teacher Survey Used to Support Central Community School System Creationism Policy — and Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom Laws

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By Barbara Forrest

On September 10, 2012, Central Community School System (CCSS) board member Jim Lloyd invoked a 2005 teacher survey in recommending the adoption of CCSS’s stealth creationism policy. He said (mp3, 12:50) that a Louisiana teacher organization, the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, had “polled its members and learned that a large percentage of them welcomed guidance concerning how to better teach controversial science subjects.” The controversial subject is, of course, evolution.

After sitting on information about this survey for seven years, waiting for a relevant occasion to use it, we now present it to our readers. It is NOT a project with which any respectable teacher organization should have been involved. As Colonel Sherman Potter used to say on MASH, it’s a load of pony pucks. So naturally, the Discovery Institute and the Louisiana Family Forum are involved.

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Published by admin on 28 Dec 2012

Creationist Conniving in Central Community School System, Part Two

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By Barbara Forrest 

In Part One of this account of the Louisiana Family Forum’s (LFF’s) extension of its “academic freedom” agenda into the Central Community School System (CCSS), we provided background information about the resolution and policy that the CCSS school board adopted on September 10, 2012. In short, the CCSS resolution and policy [pdf] are the same stealth creationist resolution and policy [pdf] that the LFF failed to get the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to adopt in August 2008. The resolution and policy were written by LFF creationist Darrell White. Here is what happened:

Having failed to get Darrell White’s resolution and policy adopted by BESE in 2008, the LFF just put it in cold storage and used it in Central in 2012, meaning that there was active collaboration between the LFF and the CCSS school board. While there is nothing earthshaking in this news, it does show that the LFF continues its active promotion of creationism in the public schools of Louisiana.

However, Part One gave only the background of the creationist conniving in the Central Community School System. In Part Two, we provide “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say. This part is fairly long, but it offers detailed evidence of what really happened in Central.

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Published by admin on 21 Dec 2012

Orleans Parish School Board Sets an Example for Jindal and Legislature

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By Barbara Forrest

The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) just did something that neither Bobby Jindal nor the Louisiana legislature has had the integrity to do. On December 18, 2012, the board voted unanimously  to prohibit the use of any textbooks that include revisionist history (as in Texas) or creationism, including intelligent design (ID). They also voted to prohibit teachers from teaching creationism, including ID, in Orleans Parish public schools. This is a gratifying development in light of the fact that the Louisiana Senate Education Committee has twice refused to move Zack Kopplin’s bill to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act [LSEA] out of committee.

The Louisiana Coalition for Science thanks the OPSB for this most encouraging initiative. We also thank our own Zack Kopplin for working with the OPSB on this. Most specifically, we should thank outgoing board member Thomas Robichaux, who placed the proposals on the agenda. So . . .

Robichaux-07-01-2011

THANK YOU, MR. ROBICHAUX!

Now, let’s get the details. 

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Published by admin on 12 Dec 2012

Creationist Conniving in Central Community School System — Part One

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By  Barbara Forrest

On September 10, 2012, the Central Community School System (CCSS) in Central, Louisiana, adopted (1) “A Resolution on Teacher Academic Freedom to Teach Scientific Evidence Regarding Controversial Scientific Subjects” and (2) a policy on “Teacher Academic Freedom in Science Education When Covering Controversial Scientific Subjects.” These long-winded titles are a sure sign that stealth creationism is still alive and well in Louisiana. And the fingerprints of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) are all over this. In fact, the CCSS resolution and policy are the same resolution and policy that the LFF tried to foist off on the state through the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) after the Louisiana Science Education Act was adopted in June 2008. In fact, they are exactly the same — right down to the mistakes and the mendacity.

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Published by admin on 31 May 2012

Speaking of not getting the memo: Philosopher Bradley Monton on the LA Science Education Act

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By Barbara Forrest

The intelligent design (ID) creationists at the Discovery Institute (DI) are nothing if not tech-savvy. They make masterful use of the Internet, producing podcasts, videos, and slick websites to get their message out (see here, here, here, and here). You’d think, then, that they could make sure that all of their supporters had received that little memo saying that the Louisiana Science Education Act DOES NOT PERMIT TEACHING INTELLIGENT DESIGN (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). They apparently forgot to send it to Bradley Monton, an atheist philosopher who announced his support for ID (you read that right) in the title of his book, Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design. Or maybe he failed to notice it in his inbox. Or maybe he read it and forgot. Or something. Whatever the reason, DI just can’t seem to keep its people from periodically telling the truth about the Louisiana Science Education Act.

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Published by admin on 16 May 2012

Discovery Institute to LA Family Forum: “Repeat after me: ‘The LA Science Education Act is *NOT* a creationism law.’”

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By Barbara Forrest

There are times when we run across items that simply must be shared. This is one of those times. Alert readers may have read the April 17, 2012, Media Matters (MM) article by Simon Maloy, “The Unscientific Model: ‘Academic Freedom’s’ Creationist Pedigree.” If not, we recommend it, and besides, you need it as background in order to fully appreciate what we will share when you “Continue Reading” below. Maloy has done a good job of showing that the “academic freedom” bills being peddled by the Discovery Institute (DI) are the terminologically sanitized, direct descendants of the “equal time” creation science bills of the early 1980s. Louisiana’s 1981 “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction Act,” for example, was enacted “for the purposes of protecting academic freedom.”

The Balanced Treatment Act, which required the teaching of “creation science” along with evolution, was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. The Court explicitly rejected the “academic freedom” defense. But losing in court has never deterred creationists. A small band of brave souls simply — and opportunistically — ditched the “young earth” and “flood geology” (that’s Noah‘s flood) and rebranded themselves as “intelligent design theorists.” They also continued to write creationist legislation — except that such bills must now be written as “stealth” bills using code language such as “critical thinking,” as in the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). There is only one teensy-weensy problem: the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) and its disciples just can’t seem to get the “stealth” part down.  Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 12 Apr 2012

Introducing the 75 Nobel Laureates Who Support Repealing the Louisiana Science Education Act

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The Louisiana Coalition for Science is proud to present our first-ever guest column, which was written by Dr. Ian Chandler Binns.

Dr. Binns joined LCFS’s effort to protect science education while he was on the faculty at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Although he has relocated to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, he remains an integral part of our effort.

In his article below (also downloadable in pdf), Dr. Binns has profiled the contribution to society of the 75 Nobel Laureates who support repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act. (Our thanks also goes to Zack Kopplin, whose efforts produced this impressive source of support.)

Before reading Dr. Binns’s article, let’s first stop and think, readers, about the contributions that creationism has made to the world of science. Actually, you don’t have to stop and think . . .

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Published by admin on 18 Dec 2011

Textaddons.com — Would teachers really use this pathetic stuff? (Updated)

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 By Barbara Forrest

It’s almost Kitzmas time again, which means that it’s almost the sixth anniversary of the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover [pdf] that was handed down on December 20, 2005. Although the Kitzmiller ruling applies only in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, it has served as a powerful legal statement that intelligent design (ID) is merely warmed-over creationism, the teaching of which is unconstitutional in public school science classes. But in Louisiana we have something else to celebrate:  December 7, 2011, marked the first anniversary of the Louisiana Coalition for Science’s successful effort to persuade the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to approve new biology textbooks for public school biology classes.

It is important to recall this event because it marked the first — and so far only — victory that defenders of science have had in Louisiana, a state in which — where public officials are concerned — standing up for science is a liability rather than a cause for commendation. (UPDATE: An alert LCFS member noted my omission of the fact that LCFS successfully fended off HB 580 during the 2011 legislative session. This stealth creationist bill would have undercut the oversight of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education over school districts’ purchase of supplementary materials and would have written the professional staff of the Department of Education out of its role in reviewing textbooks, etc. That victory came in spring of this year, so we will have another anniversary to celebrate next June!)

The people who have attacked the teaching of science in Louisiana are still around. One of them is young-earth creationist (YEC) Charles Voss, who for years has partnered with the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) in its effort to undermine the teaching of evolution. Voss is vice-president of the YEC Origins Resource Association (see the ORA Facebook page). ORA’s president is YEC chemist Edward Boudreaux (do follow this link), who was involved in the passage of the 1981 “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act,” which was declared unconstitutional in 1987 by the United States Supreme Court. (See Boudreaux’s Facebook page.) Note that the ORA was founded in 1980 as “Louisiana Citizens for Academic Freedom in Origins.” (Ring any bells?) Let’s take a look at what Voss has been doing since the approval of the textbooks last year.

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Published by admin on 14 Oct 2011

What Louisiana Science Teachers Are Required to Do Under the LA Science Education Act (updated)

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By Barbara Forrest

Many teachers and administrators in Louisiana public schools — and probably some students and parents, too — may be wondering what science teachers are required to do under the terms of the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), which became law with Bobby Jindal’s signature in June 2008.  The law and the implementation policy adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) allow teachers to bring creationist materials into their classrooms and use them until they get caught doing it. We know that the law permits this because (a) Sen. Ben Nevers, the bill’s sponsor, said so, and (b) the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) successfully lobbied BESE to delete the prohibitions against teaching creationism from the policy that implements the law. So evolution, the “origins of life,” global warming, and human cloning are all fair game in science classrooms. So now, with the law on the books, what do teachers have to do as a result? Here, after three years, is the definitive answer:

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