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Science law could set tone for Jindal

By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune

June 26, 2008, 10:10PM

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 .¤.¤. or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion."

In signing the bill, Jindal issued a brief statement that read in part: "I will continue to consistently support the ability of school boards and BESE to make the best decisions to ensure a quality education for our children."

'Can't become isolated'

Political observers said Jindal's signature will please one of his key local constituencies: conservative Protestants in north Louisiana. Jindal's long-term political challenge, they said, particularly if the Brown University biology graduate ever seeks national office, is not allowing his political image to be defined by such moves.

"It's good politics if you are a conservative Republican politician," said Pearson Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. "That being said, not every place is Louisiana. .¤.¤. Certainly this is not going to do anything to endear Bobby Jindal to a majority of voters in places like California and Massachusetts and New York."

Baton Rouge pollster Bernie Pinsonat said: "The ideal candidate is one who has broad appeal. .¤.¤. To become president today, you can't become isolated as the candidate of the religious right."

Yet a cadre of scientists, national groups with a secular agenda, editorial writers and even Jindal's college genetics professors suggested the bill could push Jindal toward that kind of identity.

The New York Times, which previously has praised Jindal's push for ethics law changes, published an editorial titled "Louisiana's Latest Assault on Darwin," recalling a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a Louisiana law requiring that biblical creationism and Darwinian theory be given equal time in the classroom. "If Mr. Jindal has the interests of students at heart, the sensible thing is to veto this Trojan horse legislation," the Times editorial board wrote.

A leading secular group, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has suggested that the bill will spawn litigation, and Marjorie Esman, state director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, "To the extent that this might invite religion in the public school classroom, we will do everything we can do to keep religion out."

Arthur Landy, who taught Jindal when the future governor was studying a pre-med curriculum at Brown, released a statement through the Louisiana Coalition for Science, itself a group that wanted a veto. "Gov. Jindal was a good student in my class when he was thinking about becoming a doctor, and I hope he doesn't do anything that would hold back the next generation of Louisiana's doctors," Landy said.

And John Derbyshire, a conservative columnist for the National Review Web site, wrote as he lobbied for a veto, "Any Louisianian who wants his kids to have a religious education can send them to parochial schools."

'Watered-down' theory

At the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that promotes intelligent design and backed the new education act, senior fellow John West said he and his colleagues did not directly lobby Jindal. The group did notify its supporters that groups such as the ACLU and the science organizations were pushing for a veto.

West said critics misunderstand the bill, which he said is not about creationism or intelligent design. Rather, he said, it's about clarifying that teachers are free to expose their students to the debates that Darwinian scientists have among themselves.

Instead, too many public school students get a "watered-down" discussion of evolutionary theory or nothing at all from teachers, and administrators are too concerned with not angering parents.

"This bill is not a license to propagandize against something they don't like in science," West said. "Someone who uses materials to inject religion into the classroom is not only violating the Constitution, they are violating the bill."

The bill enjoyed support from the Louisiana Family Forum, a group that is upfront in its push for more religious expressions in the public sphere.

Bill Barrow can be reached at bbarrow@timespicayune.com or 225.342.5590.


Comments

 (64 total)     RSS
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patman416
Posted by patman416
June 26, 2008, 10:30PM

The Flat Earth Society strikes again.

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arsaintfan
Posted by arsaintfan
June 26, 2008, 10:50PM

As if our kids weren't stupid enough, now they'll be ill-informed for sure.

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waypimpish
Posted by thegeneral
June 26, 2008, 11:06PM

What don't Jindal, who I voted for, and the legislators who voted for this bill understand about the words "separation of church and state?" It is legislation like this that continues to give outsiders the impression that we are ALL a bunch of hicks.

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patman416
Posted by patman416
June 26, 2008, 11:17PM

The stupidest thing about all of this is that Little Bobby Flat Earth calls himself a Catholic, yet the Catholic Church officially has no problem with evolution. One has to wonder why he would form these (pardon the expression)unholy alliances with the Fundamentalists who, incidentally, *hate* Catholics. In this case, the author notes exactly why ... "Political observers said Jindal's signature will please one of his key local constituencies: conservative Protestants in north Louisiana."

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waypimpish
Posted by thegeneral
June 26, 2008, 11:24PM

Patman416- I agree. I have no problem with kids being taught religion. As a matter of fact, my kids attend religious school once a week and we attend religious services. However, when my kids are in a SECULAR school 5 days a week, I want them to have a secular education. Religious training has its place; just not in a public school learning environment.

It is getting harder and harder to defend Louisiana to friends and relatives who live out of state, and it makes me some times question why I returned to this backwards ass state after Katrina.

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prestonsdad
Posted by prestonsdad
June 26, 2008, 11:50PM

waypimpish,

Did you not understand what Mr. Jindal's views were prior to voting for him. In this instance he did not mislead or flip-flop? He always said that he would placate the ultra-conservative religious right whose support he courts and enjoys.

He does not support sex education either, and he does not believe that abortion should be legal, even in cases of rape or incest. I disagree with him on virtually every issue; however, even if I liked him otherwise, I could never support him based on these views. He is an absolute embarrassment to all well-educated, thinking people.

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waypimpish
Posted by thegeneral
June 27, 2008, 12:03AM

prestonsdad-

I did understand his views. However, considering the general political climate in the U.S., where the majority of citizens, including myself, are tired of extremists to the far right and far left, I anticipated that Jindal would be more of a centrist. Thus far, however, it appears that I was incorrect.

When I voted for him, it was not based on shared social beliefs, as I, like you, disagree with him on virtually every issue. However, I believed, and still do, that he is educated, business-savvy and would restore some needed credibility to the state's image, which has long been in need of an overhaul and bring in needed businesses. Also, when the choice came down to Jindal or Walter "Big Guy" Boassa, I would pick Jindal every time.

I just hope that this is a blip on the radar screen.

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mdw1013
Posted by mdw1013
June 27, 2008, 12:14AM


Prestonsdad is right. Jindal is clearly pandering to the religious conservatives who gave him money, i.e. lobbied him with these concerns.

It's interesting to consider how Jindal was touted as an extremely intelligent, intellectual man during his campaign time; boy genius. For the life of me, I simply can't buy that any Rhodes scholar, as Jindal is, would think intelligent design and creationism were valid as "alternative" viewpoints. Both have been debunked so many times already they are blood kin to the Flat Earth Society. Any person with an education, who is capable of thinking for themselves, can see that both creationism and intelligent design are bogus theories.

That proves to me, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Bobby Jindal is a garden-variety opportunistic, hypocritical politician.
This is a clear attempt to bring "Jesus" into the classroom, and it will never hold. It would be unconstitutional.
His stance on abortion is in the dark ages.

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majkong
Posted by majkong
June 27, 2008, 12:45AM

Oh boy. More "The Earth is 5000 years old, flat, and is orbited by the sun" nonsense. And we just sprung up out of nothing one day. If this were a Jeopardy! answer, the question would be "How do you make a backwards state even worse?"

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bayoustjohn
Posted by bayoustjohn
June 27, 2008, 1:18AM

Not paying attention to economic development like the port but pushing your narrow religious agenda, yeah... Jindal, you are everything I worried about during the election. If you paid any attention to the economy and didn't want to proselytize from the governors mansion I might actually be able to tolerate him. Now he is just a gigantic disappointment.

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mrchampagne
Posted by mrchampagne
June 27, 2008, 1:31AM

I say write Pope Bennedict over Jindal's claim to be a healer. Do they still excommunicate people for blasphemy?


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bigcheezie
Posted by bigcheezie
June 27, 2008, 5:05AM

One way to 'resurrect' the state and bring in more business is to show people that their kids will get a good education. If Jindal was to, lets say, go along with the vast majority of educators, the vast majority of scientist, and vetoed the bill, our state would have look as if it were progressing into the 21st century. We can't have that!!

Goodbye Academia, goodbye intelligence, goodbye science - welcome Ignorance!!! Although your dumb and stupid, you got a hot body Ignorance. LA will again be the pun of more redneck jokes!!!

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bobxxxxxxx
Posted by bobxxxxxxx
June 27, 2008, 5:06AM

This creationism bill will give bad science teachers the freedom to lie about evolution. Way to go, Governor Bobby Jindal. You have made your state the laughing stock of the world.

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pmorphy
Posted by pmorphy
June 27, 2008, 6:09AM

Shame on you legislators. Shame on you Mr. Jindal for playing politics with our children's education.

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astrid
Posted by Astrid
June 27, 2008, 7:09AM

How many of you writing in these blogs were either instructed in or aware of a religious view of the universe. How many still believe in intelligent design. Did you not determine from all that was introduced to you or discovered by you your own belief of life's origin.

Why would you choose to deny your children the right to separate what is truth to them and what is fallacy. Why would you want to limit the possibilities of mental exploration and discovery. Do you think they are less intelligent than you and not capable of coming to their own conclusions, that is if they ever come to a conclusion.

My mind is still open and I have come to no conclusions - how can anyone conclude any definite answers.

Yes, we know the earth is not flat, but do we really know if the entire universe is flat or not.

Don't sell your children short, some of us can deal with the fact that we may be nothing, come from nothing and are going nowhere.

Others need hope that there is meaning to everything and our being born matters some how, some where.

Ask yourself - what are you afraid of - that one day they may decide there view of the world is different than yours? That they may engage you in a debate and you come up empty?

Two or more sides to every theory only open one's mind.

I believe in evolution, but I do not know if I have a soul now or is what I call my mind really in my head or floating somewhere in space. Will that mind die when my body dies or what. Do you all have answers for me? I mean, real positive answers and not just your best bet?

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his
Posted by his
June 27, 2008, 7:50AM

I am amazed at the lack of intelligence by the comments here concerning the THEORY of evolution. Did you not notice the little word "theory". This is not a proven, scientific absolute. In fact, if you did some objective research you will find that more & more real scientists are dropping this theory altogether because of the mounting physical, factual evidence to the contrary. It is nothing more than a man's theory ! It amazes me at the lack of integrity people posses in the fact that they can believe in something so whole heartedly, & passionately in something just because "alot" of other people believe in it. This is no different from old wives tales, where people believe in something just because it was taught them & believed in by others. They need no proof or evidence, it's just blindly accepted & what's worse is even passionately defended out of pure ignorance.

If you want to believe in something, believe in God & do this whole heartedly & passionately. The real igorance is in shunning God, His love & wisdom in favor of the narrow minded & short sighted wisdom of little men. This country is messed up & getting worse by the day not because you people can't get all the politicians to do what you selfishly want but because there is no longer any genuine reverance for the God who created you & this creation in the first place.

How's this for ignorance ? You liberals do not want religion being taught in schools basically because it is based upon "believing" in something. Believing in something that supposedly has nothing factual in this world with which to substantiate it's validity. Instead you wish to "impose" a BELIEF that there is no one & only true God that created you & me & all that there is in existance. There's not enough room here, but there is more than enough evidence to believe in God then there is to not believe in God so that it takes more faith to not believe in God then it does to believe in Him. The truth is, not believing in God who has made Himself known to all men, in your innermost being, is more an act of simple deffiance than that of disbelief.
With that being said, I am not a proponent of telling or forcing people to believe in God & neither is God. He gives all people a free will to choose for themselves. Therefore, when it comes to child eductation, there should exist every opportunity for the child to be given the right to choose for himself. This cannot be a legitamate opportunity if it does not contain the true "options". To force either Christianity or Darwinisim or any other thing is outrageous & hypocracy. If anything at all is going to be exposed to impressionable children it should be done in such a way as to allow them the opportunity to choose just as God Himself proposed in the garden of Eden. Personally, I think that because it is vertually impossible to present opposing beliefs objectively, I would tend to lean towards not teaching these types of things at all in public schools. The only way this could be done properly would be to "offer" these as electives to be taught by teachers who themselves believe in what they are teaching.
Praise the Lord !

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olegonzo
Posted by olegonzo
June 27, 2008, 8:00AM

>> Do you all have answers for me? I mean, real positive answers and not just your best bet?

No answers, just theories. Scientific theories tested by the scientific method. The scientific methods is the process of creating theorems and universally repeatable experiments testing one thing against what they call in science a "control" and comparing the two results. These experiments should produce consistent results that support a theory. If not, then the theory is disproved, or altered to accommodate the research.

Nothing in science is proven. Science involves the process of elimination. We thought the world was flat. Then starting with Galileo's scientific theories and testing, we crossed "the world is flat" of the lists of the proposed shapes of the world. Later we disproved that the world is round, and showed that it is slightly oblong at the poles as the testing and theories got more complex and the math and tools for study got more advanced. If Galileo attributed everything to God, he wouldn't have used science to question the dogma and studies the skies for scientifically testable theories of the earth's shape and position to the sun.

>> Why would you choose to deny your children the right to separate what is truth to them and what is fallacy. Why would you want to limit the possibilities of mental exploration and discovery. Do you think they are less intelligent than you and not capable of coming to their own conclusions, that is if they ever come to a conclusion.

Creationism isn't a science. It's a dogma. Dogma is defined in the dictionary as a belief that can neither be proven nor disproved. Religious people call it "faith", and this is one of the fundamental precepts of Christianity: to have faith. This, by definition, contradicts science which goes beyond faith.

Nothing in science can be proved, but theories can be *disproven*. The theory that the earth was the center of the universe itself came from observations of the world around us and curiosity and an attempt to explain things beyond "faith" itself.

The crux of the debate isn't whether those evil secularists are driving out "mental exploration" from the classroom by rejecting creationism -- it's simply setting a standard that in science class all "mental explorations" should take place under the equal terms of the scientific theory. Dogma doesn't play by that rule. There is nothing in the scientific community that is a testable experiment that disproves evolution -- quite the contrary.

In other words: if I can't TEST the theory that God created the heavens and the earth and nothign has changed since (presumably only about 7,000 years ago by some literal interpretations of Genesis), then it's not a theory and therefore isn't part of the science curriculum.

Mental exploration is good: purposefully confusing dogma (or "faith" if you will) with science in order to push a religious agenda is not "mental exploration"; it's religious propaganda and it's bad science because it's not science, it's not testable, it's not dis-provable. It's just confusing science with faith, and that's bad for the scientific public school curriculum.

Besides, do scientists ask Sunday School teachers to inject evolutionary theories into their lessons? No, they don't. In fact, there are scientists out there that send their kids to Sunday school. They're mature enough to parse faith form science. Apparently not everyone completely understands why creationism and science don't mix. And that's bad for the future of scientific education in the USA.

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confusedhere
Posted by confusedhere
June 27, 2008, 8:18AM

Sorry Astrid, can't answer those questions and quite frankly, don't care. I worry about the here and now, the present and preparing for the future.

Is evolution fact, no (that's why it is call a THEORY)? But, evolution has provable points, documented evidence and a hundred years of testing that has been applied to it. What has creationism or intellient design have? A book called the Bible and NOTHING else to prove it...Nice. I guess that makes it easier to teach, you can't argue the points for those two "theories". Remember that for these people, the Bible is absolute. How exactly are students suppose to question them, when the only answer they can provide is "it is in the Bible" (not much of an answer for not much of a theory). Faith, which is what creationism or intellient design are, belongs in the home, church or religion classes. Science class is for science and the 2 subjects should NEVER be mixed.

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confusedhere
Posted by confusedhere
June 27, 2008, 8:27AM

To HIS:
LOL, LOL, LOL

Isn't it funny how you use words to describe one way, all the while not realizing how it applies to YOU just as easily? "I am amazed at the lack of intelligence by the comments here concerning the THEORY of evolution. Did you not notice the little word 'theory'. This is not a proven, scientific absolute." "It is nothing more than a man's theory ! It amazes me at the lack of integrity people posses in the fact that they can believe in something so whole heartedly, & passionately in something just because "alot" of other people believe in it. This is no different from old wives tales, where people believe in something just because it was taught them & believed in by others. They need no proof or evidence, it's just blindly accepted & what's worse is even passionately defended out of pure ignorance."
LOL, This sounds like religion to me.

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midcity42
Posted by midcity42
June 27, 2008, 9:02AM

Here is the phrase that helps the religious right:

The law "shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine .¤.¤. or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion."

The legal twist the religious zealots will use is this:

The law shall not be construed to promote discriminatin against religion. Thus, in order to be fair, the school system will be forced to teach intelligent design in balance to evolution.
Nor will the law allow the promotion of nonreligious views.

I'm sure you can see how far this rabbit hole goes.

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