In Louisiana Public Schools, Students Are Often Taught Creationism Alongside Evolution

| by Alexander Rubinstein
Creation Museum.Creation Museum.

In Louisiana public schools, students may find that their biology books contain references to another well-known book: the book of Genesis. 

The Louisiana Science Education Act was passed by the state legislature in 2008, and Christian Today provided some insight this week on how the law imacts the curriculums used in the state's science classrooms. Officially, the act allows teachers to use religious materials to “critique” the theory of evolution. In effect, the law opened the doors for educators to teach creationism, which is illegal under federal law but permitted in Louisiana.

Joseph Rosenau of the National Center for Science Educations said, “We know that one in eight high school biology teachers advocate for creationism, even though it’s unconstitutional.”

In April 2015, the Louisiana Senate Education committee voted on repealing the Science Education Act, also known as the “Creationism Act” for the fifth time since 2010. They voted 4 to 3 to maintain the teaching of creationism, reports Christian Today.

In an article for Slate, Louisiana activist Zack Kopplin noted that 78 Nobel laureates as well as many prominent scientists and educators have called for a repeal of the law. Tens of thousands of citizens have signed petitions against it.

Kopplin testified in 2013 before the Louisiana Senate Education Committee in support of repealing the law. Conrad Appel, the committee chairman, asked, “Do you have any evidence of school districts or individual schools that are physically teaching creationism?”

Evidence had to be concrete. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who signed he law, told NBC’s Education Nation “I’ve got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about creationism,” but that wasn’t enough for the court. Kopplin had to name teachers.

Kopplin found the evidence he needed after discovering that a sixth-grade Buddhist student was insulted in her science class. The teacher, Rita Roark, reportedly told the class that evolution is a “stupid” theory that “stupid people made up because they don’t want to believe in God."

Roark’s science tests reportedly included a fill-in-the-blank question: “Isn't it amazing what the _____________ has made!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The correct answer was “Lord.”

In response, Appel said he did not believe the incident and others like it had occurred because of the law.

Since then, Kopplin has obtained evidence of a systemic problem: emails from creationist teachers and school administrators, as well as a letter signed by more than 20 current or previous science teachers in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana.

Kopplin accuses Darrell White, a retired military judge, of being the reason that creationism can be taught in Louisiana public schools, citing a 2006 meeting the conservative power broker organized.

At a hearing of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve new biology textbooks, White reportedly said that teaching evolution would lead to a “Columbine-style shooting” in the capital city. White wrote in a 2006 article for the creationist site Answer in Genesis that Charles Darwin should be dubbed “the patron saint of school violence.”

Sources: Christian Today, Slate

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons