While American progressives propose forward-looking plans for improving American public education, whole sectors of America nonetheless stubbornly persist in a bold march backwards. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has just given a green light for a new, national "Stealth Creationism" initiative by signing into Louisiana state law a "stealth" Creationism bill, SB 733. [vote this story up on Digg here and here]
Barbara Forrest, author of [with Paul R. Gross] Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design describes the national controversy surrounding the bill in a Thursday, June 26, 2008 Talk To Action story:
The stealth-creationist SB 733, the "Louisiana Science Education Act," which in its pre-amended version as SB 561 was entitled the "LA Academic Freedom Act," received final passage in the Louisiana legislature on June 16, 2008, and is now (June 26) on Gov. Bobby Jindal's desk. The governor can either sign it, allow it to become law without his signature, or veto it. Gov. Jindal, who in his June 15 appearance on Face the Nation reiterated his previously voiced support for teaching intelligent design (ID) creationism, is expected to sign the bill. At the behest of the LA Coalition for Science, e-mail petitioners from across the country and national scientific organizations have urged him to veto it. Both the New York Times and National Review columnist John Derbyshire have also publicly called for Jindal to veto the bill. Since Louisiana's passage of SB 733 could be a bellwether for such "academic freedom" legislation, advocates for science education and church-and-state separation in other states had better start preparing now.
A June 21, 2008 New York Times editorial noted that "All that stands in the way of this retrograde step is Gov. Bobby Jindal." But, the boyish Louisiana Republican Governor, who has professed his belief in exorcism, was unwilling to stand in the way of SB 733 and, along with Democrats in the Louisiana State Legislature, joined the GOP in its bold march backwards towards the days of when Medieval concepts such as Geocentrism, phlogistan and the "Four Humors" held sway and public witch-burnings were a popular source of village entertainment.
Bill Barrow, writing for The New Orleans Times-Picayune, yesterday, addressed the implications of the new LA education law:
Gov. Bobby Jindal attracted national attention and strongly worded advice about how he should deal with the Louisiana Science Education Act.
Jindal ignored those calling for a veto and this week signed the law that will allow local school boards to approve supplemental materials for public school science classes as they discuss evolution, cloning and global warming.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will have the power to prohibit materials, though the bill does not spell out how state officials should go about policing local instructional practices.
A subject of considerable debate, but receiving few "nay" votes, in the legislative session that ended Monday, the bill is lauded by its supporters as a great step forward for academic freedom.
Critics call it a back-door attempt to replay old battles about including biblical creationism or "intelligent design" in science curricula, a point defenders reject based on a clause that the law "shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine .Â¤.Â¤. or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion."
The Kitzmiller et. al v. Dover Area School District discredited, shredded even, "Intelligent Design" but ID partisans have managed to get an D bill through the Louisiana state legislature and facts have nohing whatsoever to do with this new efforts that's backed by Christian right heavyweight groups such as child-beating advocate Dr. James Dobson's 200-plus million dollar a year nonprofit Focus On The Family and by key Reconstructionist USD history falsificationist David Barton. SB 733 is about the stealth advancement of theocratic Christian nationalism and it's probably more or less a codification of what's already typically getting taught in Louisiana public schools but the bill will silence a minority at least, of teachers who still pay attention to science rather than push the US even faster down the slope towards developing-world and Third World status by foisting incoherent and Medieval "Intelligent Falling" and "Intelligent Grappling" on America's public school students.
[below: the first segment of a NOVA documentary on the landmark Kitzmiller et. al v. Dover Area School District court case that discredited Intelligent Design and threw it out of Dover, PA public schools. For the other 11 segments (posted on YouTube) see: here]
As Barbara Forrest continues:
"The stealth-creationist SB 733, the "Louisiana Science Education Act," which in its pre-amended version as SB 561 was entitled the "LA Academic Freedom Act," received final passage in the Louisiana legislature on June 16, 2008, and is now (June 26) on Gov. Bobby Jindal's desk. The governor can either sign it, allow it to become law without his signature, or veto it. Gov. Jindal, who in his June 15 appearance on Face the Nation reiterated his previously voiced support for teaching intelligent design (ID) creationism, is expected to sign the bill...
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Ben Nevers (Bogalusa, LA), who has a history of promoting creationist legislation. In 2003, he introduced his unsuccessful HCR 50 (pdf), which encouraged school systems to "refrain from purchasing textbooks that do not present a balanced view of the various theories relative to the origin of life but rather refer to one theory as proven fact." Like SB 733, this measure was also a stealth creationist bill that would ostensibly promote "critical thinking."
Nevers introduced SB 733 on behalf of the LA Family Forum (LFF), the Louisiana affiliate of Focus on the Family. However, the fact that this bill is the fruit of the collaboration between the LFF and the Discovery Institute (DI), a Seattle think tank that serves as command center of the ID creationist movement, gives this bill national implications. Virtually every significant creationism outbreak in the United States for almost the last decade has been the product of DI's aggressive execution of its "Wedge Strategy" for getting ID into public school science classes. (See Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, 2007.) Typically, as in previous ID flare-ups in Kansas and Ohio, DI operatives arrive on the scene once pro-ID efforts are well under way, assuming a high public profile after the initial spadework has been done by state or local Religious Right groups. DI has run true to form in Louisiana, where its proxy, the LFF, has promoted creationism -- both young-earth and ID (pdf) -- for years in preparation for this year's targeting of Louisiana."[emphasis mine]