evolution cartoon

Americans United:

A Louisiana school district that lets teachers use the Bible to teach creationism is doubling down on its sectarian instruction, claiming such lesson plans are permissible as long as the school does not provide that material.

Bossier Parrish schools are under fire thanks to some stellar investigative work by science education activist Zack Kopplin, an Americans United ally. Through an open records request, Kopplin obtained scores of emails proving that creationism runs rampant in Bossier Parrish’s public schools. One such email, from Airline High School science teacher Shawna Creamer to her principal, was particularly eyebrow raising.

“We will read in Genesis and them [sic] some supplemental material debunking various aspects of evolution from which the students will present,” Creamer wrote.

In response to Kopplin’s investigation, a spokesperson for Bossier Parrish schools told the Christian Post that there is nothing to see here because the district doesn’t endorse creationism – it’s just something individual instructors are free to explore as part of “academic freedom.”

“[The] district does not provide Creationist literature as supplements in our courses,” but does permit “use [of] the Bible as supplementary material in presenting alternative viewpoints to evolution,” the spokesperson said. “We support our teachers in engaging their students in dialogue regarding Creationism and evolution and allowing students to express their views.”

evolution

That explanation isn’t going to fly. Individual teachers do have the right to discuss creationism when teaching about the history of science, as they would any discredited idea. But they don’t need to read from the Bible to do that. And while it’s acceptable for public schools to use the Bible in certain classes, they may only do so if it is presented in an objective way – preferably as part of a larger lesson on world religions. That’s clearly not what is happening here.

Unfortunately, it has become routine for Kopplin to uncover hives of creationism festering in schools throughout the Pelican State. A report he issued earlier this year detailed sectarian schemes by both teachers and school board members throughout the state. This included a letter signed by several teachers in Ouachita Parish who praised Louisiana’s deceptive “Science Education Act,” a 2008 law that offers cover for teachers who push creationism on their students.

One passage of the act is particularly troubling:

“A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board,” the law states.

So in other words,  it appears that teachers can do whatever they want in the classroom.  There is no scope and sequence of curriculum and that in Louisiana, anything goes.

It’s fine to teach creationism–in a comparative religion class.  It’s fine to have church classes off campus and unrelated to school that teach creationism, as religion.  It’s not fine to teach religion as science.  Why?  Because it isn’t.

It doesn’t matter who hands out the materials.  That shouldn’t fly.  A good fix for all these violations is to bring in voodoo or Islam to supplement the scientific instruction.  Once “other” is introduced, all of a sudden the importance of that wall of separation becomes rock solid in most communities.

10 thoughts on “In Louisiana, creationism enters the science class surreptitiously

  1. Ed Myers

    We don’t have to worry about any of our bio-tech or other STEM industries moving to the bible-belt any time soon. They might have cheaper labor but that is because they don’t have the educational background to handle modern jobs.

  2. blue

    The hubris of science, academia and the political left never disappoints.

    The mechanic who is increasingly better at describing the miracle, has yet to understand its source, while discounting what he cannot explain.

    I agree that brining creationism into the classroom is difficult, as there are many viewpoints, but teaching what we currently think we know through science as the only absolute truth is also ignorant and stupid.

    Instead, we should be helping our students to learn to think about both relms of possibility. Limiting ourselves to secularism will allow us to do unimaginable things, the consequences of which are not and cannot be fully known.

  3. Ed Myers

    @blue Yep, that is why we have religious education at places of worship and not in schools that levy taxes and compel attendance; they are restricted to teach only secularism. It’s that pesky constitutional thingy. Those who believe that the spiritual dimension is important are free to explore that unencumbered by government.

    Science is not taught to be the absolute truth and those that claim it is are “ignorant and stupid.” The scientific method expects human error and misunderstanding and has a feedback mechanism to move towards the truth without ever actually expecting to get there.

    The idea that we are on a journey towards truth is both embraced by scientific studies and many religious studies. Those who reject the truth about the creation learned through science reject the Creator. Those that are certain they know the absolute truth about anything have made themselves a god above God.

  4. @blue
    I don’t think any serious scientist believes that there is nothing else to learn. I certainly know of no one who thinks that there is on absolute truth because there is always something new to learn. New knowledge is always being discovered.

    I think the point here is to not mix religion and science. Religion isn’t science and science isn’t religion. They shouldn’t intrude on each other.

  5. Wolve

    Yeah, all those STEM industries who can’t figure out how to keep the Chinese from stealing government personnel dossiers or Russian crooks from stealing credit data from major retailers.

  6. Rick Bentley

    Wolve, the problem with security isn’t that we don’t collectively know how to keep the Chinese and others out of our stuff.

    The problem is the top-level and mid-level managers who don’t want to invest in a sizeable enough staff to continuously maintain strong security. Who want to pursue the old-fashioned management mentality of “pay to build it, then downsize and reward managers for saving money during maintainance”.

  7. Wolve

    Rick Bentley :
    Wolve, the problem with security isn’t that we don’t collectively know how to keep the Chinese and others out of our stuff.
    The problem is the top-level and mid-level managers who don’t want to invest in a sizeable enough staff to continuously maintain strong security. Who want to pursue the old-fashioned management mentality of “pay to build it, then downsize and reward managers for saving money during maintainance”.

    Mr. Bentley, after hearing some of the responses from OPM managers in the current House committee investigation, I believe you may well be right.

  8. Rick Bentley

    It’s funny to me. Most people, INCLUDING PEOPLE WHO MANAGE TECHNOLOGY, don’t understand how it really works, what it physically is, or what it should cost to keep “it” going. “It” being the racks and racks of servers and software that are keeping all this internet-driven activity, this whole virtual world that increasingly dominates our existence, going. It’s a massive undertaking. But nobody seems to want to pay us geeks proper salaries to keep it going well. Evereyone’s always wanting to believe that they can do more for less.

    Most people, up to the level of most IT managers, are unfit to make educated decisions. Everybody just pushes a mantra of “give me more, with less cost”, as if there were inherent value in them doing that.

    Which jibes with America’s lousy management culture. Which is all about short-term “numbers” and rarely about long-term investment. America through the 20th century proved ourselves over and over the great technological innovators in the world. But our management culture became increasingly penny-wise, pound-foolish.

    Not only in government contractors, but even in the private sector, technology jobs are like 1 guy screwing in a lightbulb physically, and 20 other people creating jobs for themselves holding endless meetings about metrics on bulb replacements, and how to pay the guy actually screwing in the bulb less, or how we could get him to screw in more bulbs per hour, or whether to outsource the bulb jobs to India, and so on and so forth.

    In point of fact we need more technical geeks, and less people in suits who can’t physically produce things. (Of course, I would say that).

  9. Rick Bentley

    (I regret the inherent sexism in it being a “guy” screwing in the bulb in my post. Can’t edit posts though).

  10. Censored bybvbl

    Good summary, Rick. Add fear-mongering politicians who don’t want to pay to keep our nation’s technology up to snuff – or our infrastructure or our schools…

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