If Louisiana allowed teachers to instruct students that the sun revolves around the Earth, there would likely be outrage at such an affront to science and education.
Yet that is just about what is in state law when it comes to evolution and the processes by which life developed on Earth. It’s just as mistaken to allow — actually, encourage — teachers to adopt “supplemental materials” that “critique” evolution, because evolution is as fundamental to biological sciences as the planets are to astronomy.
The example of the sun revolving around the Earth was one used by Sir Harry Kroto, one of 78 scientists holding the Nobel Prize who have called for repeal of the misnamed Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008.
The act is criticized by scientists and educators, including the conservative Thomas Fordham Institute, which is concerned that the Louisiana law erodes science standards in Louisiana schools. Several high-profile cases caused unwelcome attention on Louisiana, including one from Sabine Parish involving teaching Bible stories of creation instead of evolution. Whenever that kind of thing crops up, the state law is cited as the authorization to water down or even ditch evolution from the biology classroom.
That is not in the interests of the education of children.
We hope that the Legislature will listen to reason and repeal the statute. Previous efforts have been scuttled in Senate committee, where the backers of creationism have more sway. Once a repeal bill gets to the floor, given how the law makes Louisiana look like Hicksville with a French accent, we like its chances.
So we hope that the Senate Education Committee this year will do the right thing and give this issue the airing on the floor that it deserves.