Archive for the 'LA Science Education Act' Category

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 11 Apr 2012

Like Louisiana Needs More Bad Publicity

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By Barbara Forrest

One would think that after the Louisiana legislature passed and Bobby Jindal signed the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act in 2008, we folks down here in the Pelican State would get used to bad publicity. And the truth is, we are pretty used to it. But that doesn’t mean that we have totally lost our capacity for mortification when we hear more news that should make everyone down here blush from embarrassment. Dr. Len Bahr, a retired coastal scientist who writes the excellent Lacoastpost blog, now informs us that another — very highly paid — Louisiana public official is a creationist.

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Published by admin on 05 Jan 2012

The Gutting of BESE’s LSEA Implementation Policy: The Untold Story of Alliance Defense Fund Involvement

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By Barbara Forrest

Let’s begin 2012 by looking back three years to January 13, 2009. That is when the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) persuaded the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to gut its policy for implementing the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). The gutted policy was inserted as §2304, “Science Education,” into Bulletin 741 [doc], the Louisiana Handbook for School Administrators, which instructs local school administrators and school boards concerning laws passed by the legislature. How did the LFF accomplish this? Long story short: the LFF showed up at BESE’s January 13, 2009, meeting loaded for bear, bringing their Louisiana College creationist professors — and their attorneys — with them. As a result, BESE stripped from the policy an explicit prohibition against teaching creationism: “Materials that teach creationism or intelligent design or that advance the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind shall be prohibited for use in science classes.” The very next day, LFF executive director, Rev. Gene Mills, announced, “Louisiana is open for business.” But there is more to this story that has not yet been told.

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Published by admin on 27 Dec 2011

Ringing Out 2011: “Battle over Science in Louisiana”

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By  Barbara Forrest

The year 2011 is about to end, and this gives the Louisiana Coalition for Science (LCFS) a chance to highlight two cool things:  (1) a new article by LCFS member Dr. Ian Binns entitled “Battle over Science in Louisiana” published in (2) Reports of the National Center for Science Education (RNCSE, pronounced “rensee”), which is now freely available online. (The Binns article is here [pdf].) Until recently, Dr. Binns was a science educator at Louisiana State University; he is now at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Throughout 2010-2011, he was an integral participant in LCFS’s successful effort to protect the selection of state-approved biology textbooks, and he took the lead in our successful effort to block the passage of HB 580, which would have undermined state oversight of school districts’ purchase of science materials. In the November-December 2011 issue of RNCSE, Dr. Binns has chronicled the attack on science education that took place after the passage of the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA).

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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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Published by admin on 01 Oct 2011

Louisiana Creationists Make False Charges Against Biology Textbooks (Updated)

By Barbara Forrest

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A new school year is now well under way, and public schools in Louisiana fortunately have a nice selection of new biology textbooks from which to choose for classroom use. In December 2010, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) heeded the voice of reason from concerned citizens and did the right thing by approving the books, despite the fact that the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) and its supporters did their best to cloud the issue with misinformation.

One of the most frequent charges that LFF creationists made in their attack on the process of selecting biology textbooks last fall was that the books had not actually been updated since 2002. Those of us who testified at the December 7 BESE meeting heard creationists say this repeatedly. John Oller, for example, made this charge:

John Oller, a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who appeared with [Rev. Gene] Mills [of the Louisiana Family Forum], said the books are 30 to 60 years out of date. ‘They have been dumbed down, they are really weak books,’ Oller told the state panel. — Baton Rouge Advocate, December 7, 2010 (emphasis added)

Having personally inspected all of the proposed new books myself (see update below), I decided to check with one of the authors who also happens to be a good friend, Kenneth Miller, a cell biologist at Brown University. The high school textbook, Biology, which Ken co-authored with scientist Joe Levine, is one of the most widely used textbooks in the United States. (See “Meet the Authors” at Pearson Publishing.) Ken gave me permission to share with readers a document that he has made available to teachers in several states, explaining all the changes from the 2002 “Dragonfly” version of the textbook to the 2010 “Macaw” version. Needless to say, Oller’s charge does not hold up.

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Published by admin on 20 Jul 2011

Memory problems at the Louisiana Family Forum?

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 By Barbara Forrest

Readers may remember this quote in which Rev. Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) described the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA).

This bill is not about teaching creationism or religion. If one reads the language of his bill, it is clear that it simply permits teachers ‘to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.’   [emphasis added]

Mills wrote this in an April 11, 2008, letter to the Hammond Daily Star, in which he had to do some very quick damage control after Senator Ben Nevers, who sponsored the bill for him, forgot to follow the script in his remarks in the April 6, 2008, Daily Star, in which he explained why he was sponsoring the LSEA on behalf of the LFF:

‘They [the LFF]  believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin’s theory. This would allow the discussion of scientific facts,’ Nevers said. ‘I feel the students should know there are weaknesses and strengths in both scientific arguments.’  [emphasis added]

You could just about hear the kittens over at the LFF headquarters in Baton Rouge.

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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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