Repeal effort fails again in Louisiana

04.22.2015

Louisiana's Senate Bill 74 (PDF) was deferred on a 4-3 vote in the Louisiana Senate Education Committee on April 22, 2015, which effectively kills the bill in committee. 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. SB 74 was the fifth bill of its kind, following SB 175 in 2014, SB 26 in 2013, SB 374 in 2012, and 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."

Testifying in favor of the bill were Zack Kopplin, who has been campaigning for the repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act since 2010, when he was a senior in high school. Kopplin told the committee about recently uncovered evidence of the effects of the law, which he also presented in a column published in Slate (April 21, 2015). Also testifying in favor of the bill were Scott Lane and his son C. C. Lane, who, as NCSE previously reported, were forced to sue the Sabine Parish School Board in 2014 over a teacher's advocacy of creationism, which included a description of evolution as "a 'stupid' theory that 'stupid people made up because they don't want to believe in God.'"