Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law the Louisiana Science Education Act, ensuring the state’s teachers their right to teach the scientific evidence both for and against Darwinian evolution. The bill enjoyed surprisingly overwhelming support from lawmakers. It was passed unanimously by the Louisiana state senate, and pased the state House by a vote of 93-4.
Here are some key facts about the new law.
- Teachers are still required to teach according to state and local science standards. But under the law, a school district could permit a teacher to present additional scientific evidence, analysis, and critiques regarding topics already in the approved curriculum.
- Teachers are still required to follow the standard curriculum, and school districts would still need to authorize what teachers are doing in order for the law to come into operation. Moreover, any teaching or supplemental instructional materials would have to be consistent with the prohibition of the promotion of religion in Section 1D of the bill. Finally, any inappropriate instructional materials could be disallowed under the bill by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- Upon the request of a local school board, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be required to “allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” Assistance from the State Board in this area now will “include support and guidance for teachers regarding effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique, and objectively review scientific theories being studied.”
- Teachers will be permitted to “use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.” But teachers using supplemental resources must first “teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system,” and the State Board of Education reserves the right to veto any inappropriate supplemental materials.
- The law is needed for two reasons. First, around the country, science teachers are being harassed, intimidated, and sometimes fired for trying to present scientific evidence critical of Darwinian theory along with the evidence that supports it. Second, many school administrators and teachers are fearful or confused about what is legally allowed when teaching about controversial scientific issues like evolution. The Louisiana Science Education Act clarifies what teachers may be allowed to do.
- The law will not allow for inclusion of religion. Section 1D of the law clearly states that the law “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”