In 2008, Louisiana passed the Louisiana Science Education Pact (LSEP)which allowed public school teachers to present “scientific criticisms” of evolution and climate change. Most scientists considered the law to be anti-evolution, since it was supported by the Discovery Institute (the Seattle based promotor of the evolution denialist Intelligent Design belief). The law’s sole purpose was to allow the teaching of creationism in public schools. Also, since it is very similar to Tennessee’s Monkey Bill (or more correctly, the Monkey Bill “apes” the Louisiana bill), it also allows teachers to instruct students about those non-existent scientific controversies in global warming and abiogenesis too.
LSEP calls on state and local education administrators to help to promote “critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” Worse yet, the law allows educators to use “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner” as long as it is permitted by the local school board. It is difficult to imagine what more conservative school districts will consider as supplemental textbooks. The bible?
This week, Louisiana Senate Democrat Karen Carter Peterson proposed Senate Bill 374 which would repeal LSEP, but it was rejected by the Senate Committee on Education by a 2-1 vote. Four other senators didn’t vote, but if the whole committee was present, it probably would not have passed. But at least Senator Peterson tried, and for that she should be commended.
LSEP does have a provision that allows challenges to unsuitable supplementary materials, but two school districts have tried to undermine it to teach creationism (not even pretending to just teach a “scientific controversy”). They also have protested how evolution is treated in biology textbooks to be adopted by the state.
Obviously the law is hurting Louisiana’s reputation in the scientific world. Kevin Carman, the dean of Louisiana State University’s Department of Science, stated that two scientists whom he was trying to recruit to the university rejected LSU because of the law. And one researcher already at LSU resigned because of worries about the quality of his children’s science education. Carman stated, “teaching pseudo-science drives scientists away.” And if you drive the scientists away, you drive away the companies who require those same scientists and a scientifically educated workforce. Pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, advanced technology companies all require science for success.
Republicans in the South seem to be obsessed about forcing public school children to learn religion. It’s unconstitutional. It’s against good business. Republicans always seem to be whining about how they support the constitution and business, yet they don’t really understand either the constitution or business. If they want to teach kids creationism at home, in a private school or in a church, nobody cares. Well, their kids will be scientifically behind the rest of the students when trying to get admission to great universities, but that’s not the issue.
So why do the Republicans hate business and the Constitution?