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.”
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.