Old news, perhaps, but still worth mentioning, insofar as creationists are still tirelessly pushing for getting creationism – or at least anti-evolution talking points – on the science syllabus in public schools. And it is, perhaps not much of a surprise that Louisiana is particularly susceptible to religiously motivated pseudoscience. In 2010, for instance, the Livingston Parish School Board decided to explore the possibility of incorporating the teaching of creationism in the public school system’s science classes, with the director of curriculum for the district, Jan Benton, (falsely) telling the board that, under the Louisiana Science Education Act, schools are allowed to present “critical thinking and creationism” in science classes, to the enthusiastic response of the school board (none of whom, of course, really associate “critical thinking” with critical thinking): Member David Tate asked: “We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?” (i.e. someone else, a preacher or creation society member, should come in to give the lecture to ensure that there is no meddling or objections from critical teachers). Clint Mitchell, meanwhile, added that “I agree … you don’t have to be afraid to point out some of the fallacies with the theory of evolution. Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom,” and even the president of the board, Keith Martin, agreed: “Maybe it’s time that we look at this,” and proposed the formation of a committee to study the possibility – apparently dimly aware of potential legal issues, he added that “The American Civil Liberties Union and even some of our principals would not be pleased with us, but we shouldn’t worry about the ACLU. It’s more important that we do the correct thing for the children we educate.”
After receiving some attention the board did back down a little, but still asked School Board staff “to look at the issue for possible future action.” David Tate said that “we don’t want litigation, but why not take a stand for Jesus and risk litigation,” thereby of course undermining any chance of winning said litigation by revealing to everyone that the whole point of their efforts was to get religion into public schools.
Diagnosis: No, attempts to maintain that the point is to teach students critical evaluation, and that it is all about science, don’t tend to last long. We are, after all, dealing with creationists here, and you don’t have to excite them much before their attempts to mimick reason start unravelling. Now, this particular Louisiana initiative is presumably dead, but similar attempts will be made again and again.