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Jindal connects the dots

Interviewed by NBC News (April 12, 2013), Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal (R) explicitly stated that the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act permits the teaching of creationism, including "intelligent design." Jindal was asked (at around 9:00), "Should creationism be taught in schools?" He did not answer the question directly, although he implied that it would be up to private schools to decide whether to teach creationism, so the interviewer asked, "So you don't think so, you don't think that creationism should be taught in public schools?"

Responding, Jindal said in part, "We have what's called the Science Education Act that says that if a teacher wants to supplement those materials, if the school board is okay with that, if the state school board is okay with that, they can supplement those materials. ... Let's teach them — I've got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about creationism, that people, some people, have these beliefs as well, let's teach them about 'intelligent design'." "What are we scared of?" he asked.

A response was provided in advance by Kenneth R. Miller, writing in Slate in 2012. A professor of biology at Brown University, where Jindal earned his undergraduate degree in biology, Miller commented, "Presenting an idea that has no scientific support as if it were the equal of a thoroughly tested scientific theory is academic dishonesty of the rankest sort. Indeed, this is why Jindal's own genetics professor at Brown University, National Academy member Arthur Landy, advised him to veto the LSEA, advice Jindal ignored."

Jindal's unprompted connection of the LSEA with creationism is not the first piece of evidence, of course; back in 2008, a sponsor of the bill told the Hammond Daily Star (April 6, 2008) that the bill was aimed at promoting the discussion of "scientific data related to creationism." Moreover, as NCSE previously reported, Louisiana antievolutionists have also reportedly invoked the law to support proposals to teach creationism in at least two parishes — Livingston and Tangipahoa — and to attack the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks proposed for adoption by the state.

The LSEA is currently the target of Senate Bill 26 (PDF), which would repeal the section of the Louisiana state law that implements it. Introduced by Karen Carter Peterson (D-District 5), who sponsored the identical SB 70 in 2011 and SB 374 in 2012, SB 26 enjoys the support of a host of scientific and educational organizations, including the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Institute for Biological Sciences.