Louisana voucher law in court; Creationism claims highlighted

In an update to an earlier story regarding the teaching of creationism funded by these vouchers for schools in Louisiana, the law is now being argued in court. While not the main part of the case, it is clearly a part that draws ire from supporters of science.

Louisiana education case highlights Bobby Jindal’s creationism state

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is rapidly emerging as a new “moderate” Republican voice, but a court case beginning Wednesday is set to shine light on a controversial policy in his state which sees government funding given to schools that teach creationism.

The case has been brought by a Louisiana teachers’ union and is aimed at a voucher scheme whereby some parents can take their children out of poor state schools and get vouchers to use at private schools.

One of the most controversial aspects of the programme is that some of the schools included on it are conservative Christian organisations that teach creationism in their science classes. When parents use the vouchers at such establishments they are effectively giving state money to teach children lessons that can include alternatives to the theory of evolution or questioning the widely accepted age of the Earth.

The article mentions activism by student Zack Kopplin who began protesting the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act as a high school project. That Act allowed public funds to be used at schools that teach creationism, clearly a constitutional issue.

Some schools use materials produced by publishers who subscribe to Young Earth Creationism – that the earth is only thousands of years old rather than billions. The information in these materials has been a joke – citing dragons and the Loch Ness monster as evidence against evolution.

Even Pat Robertson doesn’t believe the earth is 6000 years old.

More about the legal case.  Gov. Jindal’s landmark education reform law faces day in court

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  2 comments for “Louisana voucher law in court; Creationism claims highlighted

  1. Mr. Shreck
    November 29, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Trying to view it purely as a political problem (Poly Sci 101 – “Politics is who gets what, when, and how.”) the underlying issue here is public money in education. You can have 51% of the population decide how 100%’s tax dollars will be spent, which puts you in a pickle whether the 51% want evolution or creationism taught. You still risk having 49% of your population angry, and depending on how angry they are, that is several times the number of people needed to topple a society.

    I’m a Jeffersonian. I consider some kind of public education vital to a free, liberal (historical sense, not modern) society, but using it to teach topics that are not widely accepted or valued by the population is risky business because we take everybody’s money to pay for it. The fundamentalists have just as much right to be offended when evolution is taught as the scientifically minded do when creationism is taught*. I doubt we would have this perpetual controversy if curricula were more basic (classic 3-Rs, basic thinking and problem solving) and science, health, etc were mostly delivered through non-public services. I’m sure this sounds heretical to many, but do you believe our science and tech heavy culture would tolerate a broadly scientifically illiterate population?** As it is, business is as much a beneficiary of public education as the students, because they get “trained personnel” without fully paying for it. Ironically, I think this controversy has already outlasted its natural lifespan because of the involvement of political power in education. Take the public money as much as possible out of education, and you steal the oxygen from the fire.

    * = I am bracing myself for the false relativism charge, but the right I am talking about is the right to conscience, which includes in my view the right to be a blithering idiot if you aren’t directly harming anyone else. Obviously I am concerned for the intellectual life of the children of these people, but the bar to interfering in people’s personal and family lives via the power of the state should be very high. I’m not sure the value to society of teaching the origins of life in public school is worth it.

    ** = I am also anticipating the claim that we wouldn’t have a science and tech heavy society without public science education, but this seems to me a status quo bias that would be hard to prove conclusively. After all, we didn’t get the Enlightenment as the result of public science education.

    (Two footnotes on a web comment. I apologize. I am clearly off my meds…)

  2. toodles2you
    December 4, 2012 at 7:10 AM

    To the guy above. Im sorry but no, nobody has the right to be taught biblical beliefs in a classroom.

    end of story. You have the right to religion, you dont have the right to force your religious biased anti science slant on everyone else. Keep that crap in your house if you want to teach that the flintstones was a documentary and not entertainment. I dont give a darn if religious freaks are offended, their ilk is getting crazier and crazier and trying to force their creationist, anti science agenda on sane rational thinking people.

    Heck. No.

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