Monday, October 24, 2016

#1737: Charlotte Hinson

Roger Delano Hinkins, better – infamously – known as John-Roger, recently passed away. The Louisiana Science Education Act doesn’t seem to go anywhere, however. Passed by the state legislature in 2008, the act permits science teachers to use supplemental materials to “critique” evolution, which in practice means allowing them to teach creationism (of course, doing so would be constitutional, but Louisiana fundie wingnuts hate the Constitution). And Louisiana teachers do teach creationism. One of the ones who is rather vocal about that is Charlotte Hinson, a fifth-grade teacher at Caddo’s Eden Gardens Magnet School, who also wrote a column for the Shreveport Times in which she declared that her “job is to present both [evolution and creationism]” because “God made science.” Well, she doesn’t really do her job even by her own standards: “kids are disturbed when they hear or read that we evolved from apes. Of course, I do NOT teach that, but it is written in books, and they see it on certain TV shows as well.” And apparently she’s successful: after the origins sections “[the kids] always, always say, ‘I didn’t come from an animal. God created me in a unique way; I matter more than an animal; I’m special.’” Indeed, Hinson seems to have her own, personal, view of what school is for: “I will never ever teach what goes against so many of these children’s beliefs, morals and what their parents have worked so hard to instill in their hearts.” So there.

She did receive a letter from the ACLU for that one, but responded by pointing out that she had the support of local lawyers, her principal, and the school board, which is probably true (for instance, Caddish school board member Steve Riall, during a board meeting, affirmed that the Governor has granted permission for districts in Louisiana to give equal value in teaching evolution and creationism, for instance). Hinson ended her response with “Times are getting harder and harder … I feel the end is near. Be blessed!!!” Clearly, being criticized for blatantly violating the First Amendment is persecution.

Hinson is not alone, of course, and support for her efforts extend to the top. Governor Bobby Jindal, who signed the Science Education Act, said it was for creationism, and State Sen. Ben Nevers, who sponsored it in the Senate, said he did so because “creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin's theory.” State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, a state House sponsor, has also confirmed that the purpose of the law is to facilitate teaching creationism, and that Louisiana science curriculum policy “recommended a scientific discussion in the classroom of scientific theories including creationism and evolution,” which reveals something rather scary about what counts as “scientific theories” among Louisiana politicians.

Diagnosis: Completely unsuited for her job, but that’s apparently how things run in Louisiana. It’s scary, but at least no one seems to be looking to Louisiana for advice on how to do things these days – pity about the kids whose future Hinson and her ilk are jeopardizing, though.

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