They may be enacting a 21st-century version of the Scopes monkey trial in Baton Rouge soon, but the New Orleans City Council spoke with one voice this afternoon when members voted unanimously to support Sen. Karen Carter Peterson's bill, SB 70, that would strike down the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA).
The LSEA was passed in the Louisiana legislature in 2008 and signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal that summer. Its controversial section — language supported by creationists and opposed by evolutionists — states that "a teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique and review scientific theories." It's a way to teach Biblical accounts of creation in public school science classes — which LSEA supporters call "teaching the controversy."
District C councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, "The Louisiana Science Education Act inhibits science focused students of all ages and inadequately prepares them for jobs in the science field. With the New Orleans Medical Corridor poised for tremendous growth, this law also profoundly impacts our ability to fill jobs in the cutting-edge science fields with students educated in our state's public schools."
The fight against the LSEA is being led by Baton Rouge high school student Zack Kopplin, whom Gambit profiled in March. In April, Kopplin led a protest at the state capitol, at which he presented a petition addressed to the Louisiana legislature and signed by 42 Nobel Prize laureates supporting his position.
The legislature is scheduled to take up Peterson's bill in the coming weeks.