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Zack Kopplin on Bill Moyers

Zack KopplinZack Kopplin

Zack Kopplin, the young activist behind the initiative to repeal Louisiana's antievolution law and the effort to expose the funding of creationism through vouchers-for-private-schools schemes nationally, was interviewed on Moyers and Company — and the segment is now viewable on line.

In the interview, Kopplin explained the genesis of the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act: "Senator Ben Nevers, who sponsored it, said the Louisiana Family Forum suggested the law to him because they wanted creationism discussed when talking about Darwin's theory. So we know from the horse's mouth exactly what this law is about."

After the law was passed and enacted, Kopplin recounted, "for about two years I sort of stewed over this law. I wanted to fight it." Then he decided to do so as part of a senior project in high school, enlisting the help of Barbara Forrest (a member of NCSE's board of directors), Karen Carter Peterson, a state senator in Louisiana, and — by now — no fewer than seventy-eight Nobel laureates in science.

Explaining why his activism came to extend to voucher schools, Kopplin told Moyers, "I didn't initially really care about school vouchers ... And then ... a friend sent me an article by Alternet that had exposed a school in Louisiana in this voucher program that was apparently using curriculum that taught the Loch Ness Monster disproved evolution, and the Loch Ness Monster was real."

Researching the use of creationist materials in voucher schools, Kopplin concluded that "over 300 schools in voucher programs in nine states and Washington DC are teaching creationism. We have schools that call evolution the way of the heathen. And so it's become pretty clear if you create a voucher program, you're just going to be funding creationism through the back door."

In recognition of his defense of the integrity of science education, Kopplin received NCSE's Friend of Darwin award, the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award, and the inaugural Troublemaker Award in 2012. A history major at Rice University, he is nineteen years old.