Recently The Advocate covered the academic freedom policy adopted by Central Community School System.
The article suggested Louisiana’s 2008 Science Education Act “opens the door to teaching creationism.” It quoted a critic of Central’s policy stating it would “give the teachers in Central some cover for teaching creationism.” Critics must not be reading the policies they attack. Their arguments are refuted by the language of the LSEA and Central’s new policy.
The LSEA clearly states any policy “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.” If you promote religion in the classroom, you’re not protected by the LSEA. Clearly the policy adopted by the Central Community School System does not promote or advocate any religion. The policy can be located on the home page of the CCSS website: http://centralcss.org
Central’s new academic freedom policy is in complete agreement with the LSEA on this point. It aims, as the policy states, to “help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.” Like the LSEA, this language only protects the teaching of science, and in no way protects the teaching of religion.
Critics of academic freedom are trying to mislabel scientific critiques of evolution as “creationism” in a bid to censor from students the right to learn about current scientific controversies. I would hope that all parties would encourage critical thinking and analysis on all issues discussed in the classroom.
This new policy allows teachers the freedom to present scientific evidence for the pros and cons of all controversial issues. How can anyone be opposed to letting the students analyze the information and decide for themselves what they believe to be true.
I strongly encourage other school boards to step forward and provide similar guidance to their teachers and institutions.