The religious right’s war to undermine teaching about evolutionary science has spilled over the state line from Texas into Louisiana. Today a Louisiana panel is considering proposed biology textbooks that religious-right groups criticize as pro-evolution. Barbara Forrest, a professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, is very concerned:
“We now have a Texas-style attack on the selection of biology textbooks, courtesy of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), which brought us the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) of 2008. (See the LFF’s “Action Item” in its August 10, 2010, Family Facts newsletter.)”
“When the state boards of education in Texas and Kansas bent to political pressure and began to censor or amend textbooks through distortions of science and history, those states were embarrassed in the nation. We hope that experience is much on the minds of the committee that today will hear complaints about textbooks for high school biology in Louisiana.”
The religious right’s attacks on the proposed textbooks follow the typical anti-science script. Winston White of Baton Rouge told the Advocate:
“It is like Charles Darwin and his theory is a saint. You can’t touch it.”
Of course, no scientist argues that Darwin’s work — or the other research of any other scientist — should be accepted uncritically. But they do insist that 21st-century science be taught in science classrooms. That means there is no place in science classrooms for junk science trotted out by creationists who arrogantly demand that public schools teach a narrow religious point of view that has no foundation in real research and that other people of faith simply don’t share.
The right’s war on science education is marching steadily across the country. It will return to Texas in 2011, when the State Board of Education considers proposed instructional materials published to cover new science curriculum standards the board adopted for high school courses in 2009. Those standards include a variety of requirements designed to challenge key concepts in evolutionary science.