Steve May

La.'s Creationism 'junk science' law nearing implementation

by Steve May

The state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will take up further debate over how and to what extent Louisiana's science curriculum in public middle schools and high schools will be invaded by the "junk science" of creationism. The Advocate reported last week that these new guidelines to be set by the board could be finalized by this Thursday.

For many of us interested and active in economic development and hopeful in a newly resurgent Louisiana — fresh from a (more or less) successful effort to reform its image as the corruption capital of the U.S. — this is not good news. It can’t be good news either for Secretary of Economic Development Stephen Moret who already has a difficult enough burden to attract the nation’s new technology-based entrepreneurs and their companies populated with some of the best and brightest talent. But his task will clearly be made much harder by this educationally regressive new law. Highly educated young professionals coming out of America’s top schools are not likely to cotton to the idea that their kids will be placed in public schools teaching this thoroughly discredited pseudo-science.

Why do we insist on Louisiana remaining the butt of Jay Leno’s monologue jokes? Aside from our reputation as one of the most corrupt in the nation (Illinois notwithstanding), we hold another dubious, perennial distinction: one of the nation’s most illiterate states. This attempt to pollute the teaching of science in our public schools with religious dogma does more long-term damage to ourselves than all the painful headlines about Edwin Edwards, David Duke or “Dollar” Bill Jefferson combined, because the damage is far more lasting. Is this the message of educational ignorance that we want to send prospective employers considering locating or relocating to Louisiana?

Ironically, as Gov. Bobby Jindal (who signed this dog of a bill into law) said, “We have to compete based on a skilled work force. We have to compete with states all over the country. We have to compete with countries all over the world." Indeed we do. And corrupting our science curricula with 19th century “science” does not do the least bit of good for Louisiana’s economic development future or our children’s ability to compete in a very competitive world. Gov. Jindal and our legislators lacked the will or the wisdom to kill this bill before it became law; now the only barricade standing between our kids and this discredited religious dogma masquerading as science is the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. BESE needs to hear from you that this is a very bad idea.