The Louisiana legislature has passed a bill allowing teachers to insert essentially whatever they want into curricula about evolutionary science. The only thing that remains is for Governor Jindal to either sign it into law or allow it to take effect without his signature, and thus the only thing to stop it is a veto by Jindal. Contact information for Jindal:
Phone: 225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121 (Toll Free)
And the message I sent:
Please veto SB 733.
This bill does not improve science education. It is backed by groups like the Discovery Institute, whose preferred arguments require revising the definition of science in order to privilege their own account of biological origins. Those arguments also are clearly taken from the religious antievolution movement’s past ensemble of arguments.
That has three implications that you should consider.
1. Parents who do not share exactly the religious views promoted by the Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, and the Institute for Creation Research are ill-served by having the State of Louisiana abandon its responsibility in determining what teachers will — and will not — instruct their students about. A substantial proportion of Christians have no problems accepting the results of science; see the Clergy Letter Project at evolutionweekend.org, where over 11,000 US Christian clergy have signed a statement supporting the teaching of evolution and the exclusion of “intelligent design” arguments from science classrooms.
2. Antievolution arguments encourage students to distrust both the scientific process and scientists. A common theme is that mainstream science is covering up information that would point to creationism. This distrust is unlikely to help students fit into a society that is increasingly dependent on constant advancement of technology to remain competitive in the global marketplace.
3. The antievolution arguments are long-rebutted, and represent a misrepresentation of the state of science today. There is no secular purpose to teaching misinformation to students. The antievolution arguments are not in any sense a “state of the art” addition to a curriculum, and are easily linked to their earlier, explicitly creationist, forms. This means that there is no hope that a teacher choosing to use SB 733 as a means of teaching antievolution arguments could defend a challenge in court. This needlessly exposes Louisiana teachers and school districts to significant legal liability.
The religious, sociological, economic, and legal ramifications of SB 733 all require that you veto the bill. I hope that you will do so. The stated cover of improving academic freedom or education generally is a sham.
Wesley R. Elsberry, Ph.D.
Visiting Research Associate
Michigan State University
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