June 4, 2009
State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
P.O. Box 94064
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9064
Re: Request for comments regarding draft rule on science education (Louisiana Register vol.4 number 35 page 740)
Dear Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education,
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments regarding the implementation of the Louisiana Science Education Act (SB 733).
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is a nonprofit scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society. Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. AIBS is sustained by a robust membership of some 5,000 biologists and nearly 200 professional societies and scientific organizations representing the breadth of the biological sciences. The combined individual membership of the latter exceeds 250,000, including a number of members in Louisiana.
The future education, employment, and economic growth potential of Louisiana and the United States depends upon a scientifically literate workforce and a population able to make decisions informed by science and technology. A strong foundation in science that includes an understanding of evolution is required to fuel the economic innovations and advances that will help Louisiana increase economic growth from new jobs and opportunities arising from science and technology. Thus, we encourage you to support Louisiana students and teachers by strengthening the draft regulations which implement the Louisiana Science Education Act.
As proposed, the changes to the Louisiana Handbook for School Administrators are too loosely written and would allow creationism and intelligent design to be taught as science in Louisiana. The scientific community has long ago reached consensus on evolution. Scientists from many fields of study agree that evolutionary processes are the accepted scientific explanation for the history and diversity of life on Earth. Evolution, global climate change, and other current scientific concepts have been developed through a rigorous scientific process, which includes years of independent experimental studies, data collection, hypothesis testing, and publication of findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Additionally, scientific evidence supporting evolution, including from the fossil record, genetics, morphology, and various other scientific disciplines, is vast. Scientific scrutiny has not disproved the theory of evolution since Charles Darwin first proposed. Rather, it has strengthened and refined the theory Darwin put forth 150 years ago.
It is not scientifically or pedagogically appropriate to introduce or permit the use of supplemental materials in classrooms which would facilitate the teaching of creationism/intelligent design, or other non-scientific concepts under the guise of critical thinking. The regulations should be amended to explicitly prohibit the teaching of creationism/ intelligent design. This change would ensure that the regulations are consistent with the position of the US Supreme Court, Louisiana State Superintendent Paul Pastorek, and the Louisiana Science Education Act Advisory Committee.
Thank you for your consideration of our comments. If AIBS may provide further assistance to you on this or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact AIBS Director of Public Policy Dr. Robert Gropp at 202-628-1500.
Richard T. O'Grady, Ph.D.