Archive for the 'science education' Category

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 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 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 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 20 Nov 2010

It’s Thanksgiving — give thanks where it is due — and then act!

Request to Louisiana readers: If you like the posts on this website, please consider sharing them with as many people as possible, including your elected officials, science teacher friends, school administrators, school board members, media contacts, etc. Please don’t spam; be considerate and send them only to people whom you think will benefit from them. But we need people right now to contact their representatives on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and ask them (nicely!) to do the right thing and vote to accept the ALREADY APPROVED biology textbooks on December 7, 2010.


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By Barbara Forrest

So much bad publicity spins out of Louisiana about so many things that we don’t often get a chance to shine a spotlight on the competent, dedicated people who are the real reason that this state works at all. And since Thanksgiving is almost here, it is a good time to tell the world that Louisiana has intelligent, accomplished, dedicated citizens, teachers, scientists — and students! — who are trying to stop the damage that the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) and their allies are doing to Louisiana science education. Several of Louisiana’s finest testified on November 12, 2010, in favor of accepting the biology textbooks that had already been approved by the Louisiana Textbook Review Committee. Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 31 Oct 2010

Finally — a book explaining evolution to Christian teens


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By Barbara Forrest

Christian teenagers whose families and churches have repeatedly told them that evolutionary theory is evil often find themselves deeply conflicted when they finally see how compelling the scientific evidence is for evolution. The only thing they have ever heard is that evolution and religious faith are mutually exclusive. They are told that if they accept evolution, their faith will be destroyed. If they lose their faith, their moral principles will corrode and their lives will be meaningless. This is a powerful message, even though the dilemma these young people face is a false one. Finally, a Christian biologist has written a book to address their situation. The Prism and the Rainbow (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), written by my friend Dr. Joel W. Martin, is — so to speak — an answer to their prayers. Continue Reading »

Published by admin on 27 May 2010

Gene Mills Says Credit Goes to . . . Jesus!

“This bill is not about teaching creationism or religion.”

Rev. Gene Mills, Louisiana Family Forum

Hammond Daily Star, 4/11/08

Update 6/1/10: The photo above is linked to Focus on the Family’s YouTube interview of Rev. Mills. In this interview, he explains that God is working through him in the Louisiana Family Forum’s public policy initiatives:

FOF Interviewer: What keeps you motivated? . . . What keeps you in the fight? What gives you energy?

Rev. Mills: You know, I find my inspiration in scripture, where it says that God’s purposes are found in me, and I best accomplish it when I’m expressing that witness or providing that testimony to those who need to know. And this is one way in which I can fulfill that basic life purpose — is expressing truth in the arenas where it doesn’t often go, including the public policy arena.

By Barbara Forrest

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Ever since the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) was introduced and subsequently enacted into law in 2008, the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), which “drafted and promoted” the bill, has sworn to high heaven (so to speak), that this legislation had not a thing to do with religion. The above statement by Rev. Gene Mills in his letter to the Hammond Daily Star is the most prominent and direct denial. (Mills wrote the letter in an effort to do some quick damage control after Sen. Ben Nevers told the newspaper that he introduced the bill because the LFF thought that “scientific data related to creationism should be discussed [in public schools] when dealing with Darwin’s theory.”) A year after penning this denial, Mills told Gambit Weekly pretty much the same thing. According to GW,

The bill’s original creator, the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a self-described ‘voice for traditional families in Louisiana,’ insists the new law is religiously neutral. According to the Rev. Gene Mills, the group’s director, ‘As written, it’s bulletproof.’ [bold added]

But as an analysis [pdf] of the LSEA shows, and as Mills himself later confirmed in a way that leaves no doubt, the Louisiana Science Education Act is all about religion.

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Published by admin on 21 May 2010

Update: Knox County School Board Shows BESE How to Conduct Public Policy

By Barbara Forrest

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In April, Kurt Zimmermann, parent of a student at Farragut High School in Tennessee, asked the Knox County, Tennessee, School Board to remove his son’s honors biology textbook, Asking About Life, from the classroom because it refers to the biblical creation account as a “myth.” There is a Louisiana connection to this case: the only resource on which Zimmermann relied in his complaint was a textbook addendum written by Louisiana creationist Charles Voss. (He indicated this in response to the question on the complaint form, “What reviews of this material have you read?”) In his complaint, Zimmermann not only wanted the book removed from his son’s classroom but, according to the box he checked on the complaint form, he wanted it withdrawn “from all students as well as my child.” To the school board’s credit, at its April 7 meeting (see minutes) it rejected board member Karen Carson’s compromise proposal to offer Voss’s addendum as a resource to teachers. (See “Louisiana Creationist Textbook Addendum Rejected in Tennessee.”) A month later, when Zimmerman and his creationist supporters appeared again to press their case at the May 5 meeting, the Knox County School Board did what the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) should have done on January 13 and September 16, 2009, when creationists demanded and got control of the policy governing implementation of the Louisiana Science Education Act: they said no.

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