Saturday, January 10, 2009

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Evolve...

WWL-TV has a story detailing the recent activities of the Louisiana state education officials:

A new law that promotes what its backers call "critical thinking" about evolution and other science topics is about to come up for discussion again in Baton Rouge -- this time before state education officials charged with deciding how it should be implemented.

While the law maintains a requirement that public school science teachers use state approved science textbooks, it also allows local teachers and school boards to introduce "supplemental materials" in science classes on topics including evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.

It is clear from instances around the country that supplemental material often means things like Of Pandas and People. On the bright side:

Proposed for discussion at the December meeting were requirements that any information in the supplemental material be "supported by empirical evidence." The proposed language also said religious beliefs "shall not be advanced under the guise of encouraging critical thinking" and that materials "that teach creationism or intelligent design or that advance the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind shall be prohibited in science classes."

Predictably, that got this reaction from some quarters:

Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative Christian group that supported the law, said Thursday that he was unhappy with some of the policy language prepared for discussion at a December meeting of the BESE committee. That discussion was postponed until Tuesday.

Mills declined to discuss his specific objections.

"I would just summarize it this way," he said. "I would think that it left religious neutrality and took a tone of religious hostility. Or at least it could be interpreted by some to have done that."

I would interpret it as being science-friendly instead of science-hostile. But that's just me.

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