You are here

Repeal effort fails again in Louisiana

Louisiana's Senate Bill 175 (PDF) was tabled on a 3-1 vote in the Senate Education Committee on April 24, 2014, which effectively kills the bill in committee, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate (April 24, 2014). The bill, introduced by Karen Carter Peterson (D-District 5), would, if enacted, repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, passed and enacted in 2008, and thus opened the door for scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution and climate science to be taught in the state's public schools. It was the fourth bill of its kind, following SB 26 in 2013, SB 374 in 2012, SB 70 in 2011.

The law targeted for repeal calls on state and local education administrators to help to promote "critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning"; these four topics were described as controversial in the original draft of the legislation. It also allows teachers to use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner" if so permitted by their local school boards. Speaking to NBC News on April 12, 2013, Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal (R), who signed the bill into law over the protests of the state's scientific and educational communities, acknowledged (at around 9:00) that the law allows teachers to "teach our kids about creationism."

On the day preceding the committee hearing, Zack Kopplin, the young activist spearheading the repeal effort, was quoted in the Baton Rouge Advocate (April 23, 2014), as saying, "Whether we pass or fail tomorrow, it does not really matter because this is sort of ground zero for a much larger fight for science in this country." He expressed optimism about the future of the repeal effort after the November 2015 elections, which might bring new members to the Senate Education Committee. Kopplin was speaking at Louisiana State University, where he was receiving the Manship School of Mass Communication's Courage and Justice award, in honor of his efforts to defend the integrity of science education.