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 Gene] Mills [of the Louisiana Family Forum], said the books are 30 to 60 years out of date.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 18 Jun 2011

“An End Run on Textbooks” — Advocate got it right

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By Barbara Forrest

The Baton Rouge Advocate has a great editorial today about Rep. Frank Hoffman’s HB 580, about which the LCFS sent out a press release [pdf] and a detailed analysis [pdf] on June 13. (See LCFS post, June 10, 2011.) The Advocate has it right: this bill does an end run around the established textbook review and adoption process that the Louisiana Family Forum has been trying unsuccessfully to thwart since 2002.

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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 04 May 2011

Letters and Statements of Support for Repeal of LA Science Education Act (Updated)

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The Louisiana Coalition for Science is pleased to post (in alphabetic order) the following statements and letters of support [pdf] for the repeal of the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008.

Along with Zack Kopplin, we thank all of these organizations and individuals for their support of the repeal effort. Should we receive additional letters and statements, we will update this post.

 

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Copyright © 2010. Louisiana Coalition for Science. All rights reserved.

Published by admin on 29 Apr 2011

Video of Rally for Repeal of LA Science Education Act

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For readers who were not able to attend the rally at the Capitol today, Zack has posted his  YouTube video.

WAFB also ran a video news segment about the rally. Earlier in the day, Zack was interviewed on the Jim Engster Show on WRKF. Darrell White of the Louisiana Family Forum was included in this interview.

In addition to Zack, who delivered an address to attendees, Dr. Ian Binns spoke on behalf of the Louisiana Coalition for Science. Dr. Kevin Carman, Dean of the College of Science at Louisiana State University, also offered remarks. The Louisiana Coalition for Science thanks both Dr. Binns and Dr. Carman for participating.

Most of all, we thank Zack Kopplin for taking on the task of seeking repeal of the stealth creationist law that should never have been passed. The Louisiana legislature should care enough about what the rest of our fellow Americans think of our state by getting it off the books. But most of all, they should care enough about the education of young people like Zack, who has done what every responsible adult in Louisiana should be doing.

Thank you, Zack.

 

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Copyright © 2010. Louisiana Coalition for Science. All rights reserved.

Published by admin on 23 Apr 2011

Rally at Capitol to support SB 70: Repeal of Louisiana Science Education Act

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By Barbara Forrest

On Thursday, April 28, Zack Kopplin will hold a rally at the Capitol in Baton Rouge in support of SB 70, a bill sponsored by Senator Karen Carter Peterson (thank you Senator Peterson!) to repeal the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act, which was passed in 2008. Zack has a Facebook page with information about the rally, and he has information about the repeal effort at Repealcreationism.com. On April 22, Zack was interviewed by WBRZ in Baton Rouge. This young man is doing what every responsible adult in the state of Louisiana should be doing — petitioning the legislature to correct the mistake they made in 2008 by letting themselves be cowed by the threat of political hardball by the Louisiana Family Forum.

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Published by admin on 22 Apr 2011

42 Nobel Laureates Support SB 70

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The following letter has been sent to the Louisiana legislature and to Gov. Bobby Jindal. (Reproduced from Repealcreationism.com, posted by Zack Kopplin, April 21, 2011)

42 Nobel Laureates Call for a Repeal of the LSEA

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