Letters to the Editor

Veto the La. Science Education Act

The New York Times has noticed the Louisiana Legislature’s passage of SB 733, the “LA Science Education Act.” In its Saturday, June 21, 2008, editorial, “Louisiana’s Latest Assault on Darwin,” the Times urges Gov. Jindal to veto the bill: “The state . . . has a sorry history as a hotbed of creationists’ efforts to inject religious views into science courses. All that stands in the way of this retrograde step is Gov. Bobby Jindal.”

With one of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers highlighting the Legislature’s support for this misguided legislation, the eyes of the nation will now be turned toward our state even more attentively.

Louisiana’s passage of SB 733 has also come to the attention of well-known National Review columnist John Derbyshire, who calls upon Gov. Jindal to either veto the bill or “explain to Louisiana taxpayers the pointless waste of public money that will inevitably ensue from your signing it.” In addition, nine of the nation’s most prestigious scientific societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, have sent letters to Gov. Jindal asking him to veto the bill.

As the calls for Gov. Jindal to veto SB 733 grow louder, evidence of the escalating involvement in Louisiana of the Discovery Institute, the out-of-state creationist think tank whose religious agenda was declared unconstitutional in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005), continues to accumulate. Given DI’s emergence as a major player and partner with the LA Family Forum in promoting SB 733, Gov. Jindal’s allowing the bill to become law is likely to attract even more unflattering national attention.

The governor must understand that our state, in which educators in our elementary and secondary schools as well as in the state’s universities work so hard to improve the quality of life, is being targeted by the DI, working through the LA Family Forum. The evidence of DI’s meddling in Louisiana is clear and damaging:

• John West, associate director of DI’s creationist Center for Science and Culture, states that the bill is needed because “science teachers are being harassed, intimidated, and sometimes fired for trying to present scientific evidence critical of Darwinian theory along with the evidence that supports it. Second, many school administrators and teachers are fearful or confused about what is legally allowed when teaching about controversial scientific issues like evolution.” Yet there is no evidence that any of these things have happened in Louisiana.

• As they have done in the case of other states where they played a leading role in attacking the teaching of evolution, including Kansas, Ohio, Georgia and Texas, DI has set up a special Web page with “Links to information about the Louisiana Science Education Act.”

• The ID movement’s leading intellectual, William Dembski, who defends ID when talking to the media but refused to defend it in court in the Kitzmiller case, has now issued his own call for ID supporters to contact Gov. Jindal in support of SB 733, thus escalating DI’s public stake in the future of the bill.

Public schools are the state’s best hope of putting a better life within reach of every Louisiana child. The LA Coalition for Science repeats our call for Gov. Jindal to help us protect the schools and the children by vetoing SB 733 outright. By doing so, he will affirm the importance of public education in Louisiana, thereby earning the gratitude of our teachers and students, as well as the respect of the nation.