In 2008, public science education and academic freedom enjoyed a victory with the passing of the Louisiana Science Education Act.1
The act, signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal, allows teachers to use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner." Such scientific theories can include "evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."2
Anti-science advocates criticized the policy, claiming it would "sneak" creationism--which is often wrongly equated to promoting religion--into public classrooms. But they applauded a recent vote of the state's textbook advisory panel to recommend biology textbooks that had previously been proposed for adoption by the Textbook Review Committee.
That's because teachers are only required to teach from the standard textbooks supplied by the school system. Introducing supplemental materials to give the students the opportunity to "understand, analyze, critique, and review" theories such as evolution will be at the discretion of the individual instructors.
Retired Louisiana State University professor Dr. Charles H. Voss, Jr., reviewed the textbooks that are up for the vote. He said they contained "serious errors" and would lead students down wrong paths that don't promote critical thinking and analysis.
"They are full of untruths and half-truths," he said in a recent interview. "We just want [the schools] to teach the truth." His addenda detailing the weaknesses of each book can be found at textaddons.com.
The books still have to gain approval by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Discussion will take place on December 7, 2010, at the Student School Performance and Support committee meeting, which could potentially spill over to the full board meeting on December 9. The meetings are open to the public, and the board will vote after discussion has concluded.
Louisiana's decisions on textbooks can have ramifications on neighboring Texas, which approved new curriculum requirements in 2009.3 Texas will vote on textbooks in 2011, a decision that can impact other school systems, since the Lone Star State is one of the largest buyers of textbooks in the country. Those who are concerned about academic freedom in this country should watch this vote carefully.
- Originally filed as the Louisiana Academic Freedom Act, Senate Bill 561. See Dao, C. Louisiana the Only State to Promote Academic Freedom (So Far). ICR News. Posted on icr.org July 23, 2008, accessed November 22, 2010.
- Louisiana Academic Freedom Act, SB733 - 2008 Regular Session (Act 473), effective June 25, 2008.
- Dao. C. Evolutionists, Atheists Admit Defeat in Texas. ICR News. Posted on icr.org April 3, 2009, accessed November 22, 2010.
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on November 29, 2010.