Archive for the 'Louisiana Legislature' Category

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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Published by admin on 13 Jul 2011

Louisiana: The Cartoon State

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By Barbara Forrest      

OK, readers, who knows what these two pictures have in common?

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Published by admin on 24 Jun 2011

Announcement: Louisiana HB 580 is dead.

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By Barbara Forrest

The Louisiana Coalition for Science (LCFS) is pleased to announce the demise of HB 580, which is official with the adjournment of the Louisiana legislature today, June 23, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. This legislation was, by every indication, nothing more than an attempt to reverse the Louisiana Family Forum’s defeat in its effort to block the approval of new biology textbooks for Louisiana public schools in fall 2010. However, even though HB 580 was another stealth creationism bill, no subject of instruction in public schools would have been safe from its effects. Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 10 Jun 2011

Press Release: HB 580 — yet another Louisiana stealth creationism bill (no, seriously).

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By Barbara Forrest

Friends, we at the Louisiana Coalition for Science would like to be able to say that we are pulling your leg. But we’re not. Louisiana is about to enact into law yet another stealth creationism bill in the form of HB 580 — unless the Senate finally decides to put a stop to this foolishness within the next 13 days when the current legislative session (mercifully) comes to an end. HB 580 passed in the House of Representatives on June 8 with a vote [pdf] of 87 yays, 5 nays, and 13 abstentions. (Thank you, Rep. Walt Leger, Rep. Patricia Haynes-Smith, Rep. Regina Barrow, Rep. Barbara Norton, and Rep. Charmaine Marchand Stiaes.) Louisiana is the embodiment of one of the cardinal rules that every pro-science citizen has to learn:  CREATIONISTS NEVER GIVE UP. To which we now add a corollary:  CREATIONISTS WANT IT ALL. Louisiana creationists were given the proverbial inch in the form of the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), and since 2008 they have been industriously grabbing their mile.

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Published by admin on 25 Feb 2011

(UPDATED) Another creationist “academic freedom” bill bites the dust: Oklahoma HB 1551 (and now SB 554)


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By Barbara Forrest

UPDATE (March 5, 2011): The National Center for Science Education reports that the second creationist bill in Oklahoma, SB 554, appears to have died in committee.

SB 554, a hybrid of the ‘academic freedom’ antievolution strategy and the flawed Texas state science standards, appears to have died in committee on February 28, 2011, when a deadline for senate bills to be reported from committee passed. SB 554 was introduced by Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who described it in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 24, 2010) as ‘requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.’

The Louisiana Coalition for Science again congratulates the find work of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education and the other committed citizens who worked to protect the education of Oklahoma students! And Oklahoma has given Louisiana even more reason to follow their example and work just as hard to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act[end update]

Good news and kudos to Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE) for their good work in fighting for Oklahoma science education! Oklahoma HB 1551 (rtf) has been defeated in committee. The National Center for Science Education reports that OK Rep. Sally Kern’s bill, “which would, if enacted, encourage teachers to present the ‘scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses’ of ‘controversial’ topics such as evolution,” failed in the House Common Education Committee by a vote of 7-9. (It could be resurrected later in this session or in a future session.) The comments about the bill, however, were interesting.

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Published by admin on 21 Feb 2011

Rest in peace New Mexico HB 302. Hear that, Louisiana?


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By Barbara Forrest

New Mexico’s stealth creationist bill, HB 302, which in many respects closely tracked the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), has been tabled, meaning that it is dead for the current legislative session. The bill’s obituary was posted by the National Center for Science Education , and its demise was confirmed by a dedicated pro-science citizen in New Mexico who helped put it to sleep. This development should serve as an example to Louisiana legislators, who will have an opportunity in the upcoming regular session of the Louisiana legislature to send the LSEA to a similar fate by repealing it outright.

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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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Published by admin on 25 Nov 2010

Open letter to BESE from a member of the Louisiana Life Sciences Textbook Adoption Committee


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By Barbara Forrest

In keeping with the November 20 post highlighting Louisiana citizens who have stepped forward to protect science education in our public schools, this post will give a voice to a member of one of Louisiana’s most dedicated groups of citizens: public school science teachers. Our state is blessed with dedicated science teachers, one of whom has stepped forward as a voice of reason with a message to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on behalf of Louisiana students.

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Published by admin on 13 Nov 2010

Hell just froze over in Louisiana.


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By Barbara Forrest

Readers will have to pardon the mixed metaphors in this post, but something happened today in Louisiana that is about as common here as snowflakes at Christmas: the voice of reason prevailed at a meeting of public officials. Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 11 Nov 2010

Textbook Attack in Louisiana


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By Barbara Forrest

Well, friends, the fun just never stops here in Louisiana. As the saying goes, “Here we go again.” What, you ask, is the state of Louisiana up to now?

We now have a Texas-style attack on the selection of biology textbooks, courtesy of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), which brought us the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) of 2008. (See the LFF’s “Action Item” in its August 10, 2010, Family Facts newsletter.) This attack began with a volley of letters written by LFF operative Darrell White to various Louisiana newspapers in July of this year. (See White’s July 22, 2010, letter in the Hammond Daily Star. See my response in the July 26 Daily Star.) However, the process has been developing under the radar. The November 9, 2010, story on the front page of the Baton Rouge Advocate has now provided a glimpse of what may be about to happen on Friday, November 12, at a meeting of the Textbook/Media/Advisory Council in Baton Rouge [agenda here (pdf)]. According to the Advocate article, the LFF and its followers just have all kinds of problems with the biology textbooks.

Critics contend some biology I, biology II and other school books under scrutiny  for public classrooms put too much credence in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

‘It is like Charles Darwin and his theory is a saint,’ said Winston White, of Baton Rouge, who filed a comment with state officials reviewing the textbooks. . . .

Darrell White, who is the father of Winston White and is  co-founder of the Louisiana Family Forum, said the proposed biology textbooks he reviewed fail to meet the benchmarks spelled out in a [2008] law aimed at expanding classroom talks on the theory of evolution.

‘If this was a beauty contest, we have got all ugly contestants in these biology textbooks,’ [Darrell] White said.

And — hush my puppies! — the article says that “In written comments to state officials, David Mathers, of West Monroe, said he would ‘like to see intelligent design explained as an alternate theory to the theory of evolution.’” Moreover, Curt Eberts of Monroe “faulted a biology textbook he reviewed for lacking material on the concept of intelligent design.” One would think that these folks were coordinating their efforts, wouldn’t one?

The meeting is open to the public, and concerned citizens may want to attend. But first, a little history is in order, because this goes all the way back to 2002, when the LFF made its first attempt to influence the selection of state-approved biology textbooks. So let’s take a little stroll down memory lane. Continue Reading »

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