Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Well, the state of Louisiana has let me down once again, so, let's break down this little "act" recently passed
To enact R.S. 17:285.1, relative to curriculum and instruction; to provide relative to the teaching of scientific subjects in public elementary and secondary schools; to
promote students' critical thinking skills and open discussion of scientific theories;
Fine, but why target only biology? Why not ask them to probe into the theory of gravity? Why not ask them to "challenge" germ theory? Why not ask them to challenge all those other theories? Oh, that's right, because this one is "controversial" in the eyes of the public... I forgot.
And another thing, this "teach the controversy" removes attention from the REAL problems with evolutionary biology, namely the problems with phylogenies of bacteria and archae.

to provide relative to support and guidance for teachers; to provide relative to textbooks and instructional materials; to provide for rules and regulations; to provide for effectiveness; and to provide for related matters.
In other words, to give them help putting forth ANY ideas they see fit to put into the classroom. It even goes so far as to "provide for related matters." Will they make a trip to the creation museum on tax dollars?
Science education; development of critical thinking skills
A. This Section shall be known and may be cited as the "Louisiana
Science Education Act."
This could also be known as the "anti-science non-education act." While it is worded in such a way that would appear to be beneficial, it gives open license to many things, namely creationism under the guise of "intelligent design." Also, it's been brought to my attention that the weasels at the Discovery Institute helped write the bill.
B.(1) The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon request of a city, parish, or other local public school board, shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes 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.
1) Evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning... Got that? The first one is among the most complex scientific principles we know of, and they want high school students to be capable of being critical of it? Are they going to get them to that level of education in one or two years? I fail to see how two courses in biology can get anyone to the level of biological understanding necessary to be able to come close to criticizing evolutionary theory. I would actually take about four semesters of college education DEVOTED to evolutionary biology, genetics to get to that point, and they want to do this in one or two semesters of high school education? You've got to be kidding me.
2) Origins of life, this is another one where it would require at least that genetics background along with biochemistry and a solid background in ribozymes and the various hypotheses involved. I emphasize "hypotheses" because that's what they are. These are not theories as is stated.
3) Global warming is also not a theory, it is an observation. The causes of global warming are theories. These include greenhouse gas, solar variation, and geocycle theories.
4) Human cloning is a theory? It happens all the time naturally, anyone familiar with identical twins? What would make this form of cloning different from twins?
(2) Such assistance shall include support and guidance for teachers regarding effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique, and objectively review scientific theories being studied, including those enumerated in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection.
But I already pointed out that these aren't all theories, not to mention those you did mention are would require far more time and education than anyone would be willing to put children through in high school.
A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board unless otherwise prohibited by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
What textbooks? Can they pick up Ernst Mayr's "This is Biology: The Science of the Living World" or Mark Ridley's "Evolution" or Matt Ridley's "Nature via Nurture"? Or will it be what I suspect, some propaganda by the Discovery Institute or other IDiots?
D. This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.
I suppose that means it should be purely objective and use peer-reviewed information.
E. The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and each city, parish, or other local public school board shall adopt and promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this Section prior to the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.
So, starting in August, we're going to have intelligent design taught in classes, let's just wait for the law suits to roll in...

I do hope science teachers take this opportunity to really teach evolutionary biology, genetics, and neurobiology rather than promote be IDiocy.


Michelle said...

we need to move...I don't think I can live in a state where they can pass this kind of thing

Jonathan said...

So when are we starting a petition to get this nullified?

I may believe in God, but I sure as hell don't believe he/she/it should be taught in a science class!!! I fear these types of laws will be passing far more frequently in many states, Michelle... I doubt you can run from them.

scripto said...

Congratulations on another fine piece of undefined legislation. What's going on down there, anyway. Isn't your governor an exorcist? Maybe he should turn his talents on the legislature. Here's a little tidbit from the original bill - just be glad they didn't pass this:

"Neither the Louisiana Department of Education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, superintendent of schools, or school system administrator, nor any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrator or teacher, in the course and scope of his duties in such capacity, shall censor or suppress in any way any writing, document, record, or other content of any material which references topics listed in Paragraph A(4) of this section "

(paragraph A(4) mentioned evolution, global warmning, etc.)

Jonathan said...

I was speaking to Keegan about this, and she told me that they're trying to get this to the supreme court so that they can set a precedent against the teaching of id in Louisiana schools... Her aunt's a lawyer or something who works with several legislators.

The problem is that this is a big gamble. Especially if this horsecrap passes and is signed into legislation. If it works and the supreme court strikes down this bill, we'll be thought of as progressive and intelligent. If it doesn't and this thing passes... back to the Dark Ages we go.


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