On 3 June 2008, the American Institute of Biological Sciences added its voice to the chorus of scientific and educational organizations opposing passage of Louisiana Senate Bill (SB) 733, the so-called “Louisiana Science Education Act.” The measure, introduced by State Senator Ben Nevers, a Democrat, would negatively impact science education in Louisiana.
Nevers, an established proponent of teaching creationism/intelligent design represents the part of the state that includes the Ouachita Parish School Board, which sought a congressional earmark from United States Senator David Vitter (R-La) in 2007. The earmark would have provided $100,000 in federal funds to the district to "pay for a report suggesting 'improvements' in science education in Louisiana, the development and distribution of educational materials and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Ouachita Parish School Board's 2006 policy that opened the door to biblically inspired teachings in science classes." The attempt to secure the earmark was unsuccessful, in part due to strong opposition from AIBS and several AIBS member societies.
SB 733 is the most recent attempt to redefine science in the state of Louisiana. However, this anti-science campaign is advancing unchecked. Various state newspapers have warned the state legislature to avoid the folly of other localities, such as Dover, Pennsylvania, which have incurred expensive legal fees and international ridicule as they have sought to, unsuccessfully, defend anti-science education policies. Scientists from across the state have also been working to defeat this measure, and national scientific organizations have warned state legislators of the negative impact passage of the measure will have on the state.
To read the letter AIBS sent to Louisiana House Speaker Jim Turner, please visit www.aibs.org/position-statements. Additionally evolution education resources are available from AIBS at www.aibs.org/public-policy/teaching_evolution.html.
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