Quantcast

LA Science Education Act: The Place for Creationism in LA Public - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Update: LA Science Education Act: The Place for Creationism in LA Public Schools

Posted: Updated:
Lousiana -

Update as of February 26th: Senator Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) recently filed SB 175 to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act.  More information can be found here.

A recent lawsuit has refueled the discussion locally and nationally of separation between church and state.  The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Sabine Parish School Board alleging officials at one of its public schools harassed a sixth-grader because of his faith. Further complicating an already controversial issue, Louisiana has a unique law about creationism in public schools.

"Schools can't advance religion, but they also can't actively inhibit religion," says Dr. Christopher Parker, a political science professor at Centenary College.  Often called "the establishment clause" neither the state nor federal government can pass laws regarding the establishment of religion - but what that means is up for interpretation.

"Some sort of extreme position is that it means that government can't simply mandate an official religion, or set an official state religion," says Dr. Parker.  "That position has never really taken a hold in the Supreme Court.  Some interpret it to be a strict wall, separation between church and state, where they shouldn't be involved at all."

Into this gray area of how to interpret the First amendment - comes the place for creationism in the classroom.  And that one issue has been the focus of a handful of lawsuits at both ends of the spectrum.  Dr. Parker says there have been two big cases. "One, striking down an Arkansas Law that banned the teaching of evolution in the 1960s.  And in 1987, they struck down a Louisiana law that mandated the teaching of creationism along with evolution."

And that's where the Louisiana Science Education Act comes in.  Passed in 2008, the law allows teachers to use supplemental texts to evaluate, critique, and analyze scientific theories.  Only Louisiana and Tennessee have this type of law.  "Louisiana's current law doesn't really go that far and is worded in such a way to avoid the same problems from the law in the 1980s," he says.  "There's actually a specific clause within the law that says the law is not to be construed as a way to associate with a single religious view or any religious view.  And it doesn't actually mention creationism."

We asked Dr. Parker what supplemental material there is out there that isn't religious.

"That's sort of the sub-text to the amendment.  It's pretty clearly geared towards allowing teachers to teach creationism in addition to evolution. And that really hasn't been settled by the court."

Dr. Parker says the real debate is how it's being taught—whether in a secular manner, or a religious one.  He says the court acknowledges that creationism may have some secular value, say, in a philosophy class.  But Dr. Parker says teaching it as a scientific theory, on par with evolution, is problematic.

One local high school graduate has become a political activist around this issue. Zack Kopplin has been working for the last three years to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act. 

"The problem is, evolution doesn't have any scientific critiques, and the only types of critiques that can be brought into these classes are religious.  And that's the whole point of this law.  The sponsor of this bill, Senator Ben Nevers, says it was to have creationism taught wherever Darwin's theory was taught.  And the governor who signed it, our governor, Bobby Jindal, said this was about teaching creationism in public schools,"  says Kopplin.  

He says his movement has support from major science organizations and 78 Nobel laureate scientists.  Now, he says he needs support from the state legislature to do complete his goal. 

"When you teach creationism, you undermine kids' biology education, evolution is central to biology.  So if you ever want to go into a biology related field then these kids are going to struggle if they've been taught creationism.  They're going to struggle getting into college too.  the college's are going to look at their applications and see they came from a state like Louisiana; We can look at this kid from Connecticut, and we can look at this kid from Louisiana, they have similar scores, they're very similar, but we don't know if this kid has as good of a science education as maybe the kid from the East Coast," says Kopplin.  "Worst of all, when you teach kids Creationism, you're going to confuse them about the scientific method."

But are districts using Creationism as a supplemental material?

"What we do know, at least district wide policy wide, that it is being used.  Livingston Parish School Board has talked about using this law to teach creationism in public schools…Across the country, 13% of teachers blatantly teach creationism. And another 16%of teachers don't teach evolution, or teach both sides.  And this law sort of provides an extra incentive to do it."

But what about those who feel scientific theory is counter to their religion?

"I would go ask him to re-read what Pope John Paul said, which said there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of faith. There are many people who have found a way to have both their beliefs and their acceptance of science. There are two separate spheres, many people can accept both.  The problem is those people that can't those people want to put religion in the classroom where it doesn't belong.  But that's not an issue for science, that's an issue that they haven't found a way to accept their beliefs and accept the reality of science," says Kopplin.  "All science is is the explanation of the natural world.  Key word is natural, not supernatural.  We can't explain with science the supernatural, it does not try to."

"The Supreme Court hasn't really weighed in one way or another whether or not simply allowing teachers, giving them the option to teach creationism in the science classroom is unconstitutional," says Dr. Parker.

But aside from creationism, what religious activities are constitutional in public schools?

"There are schools in the south that will have school prayer to open up the day or bible readings to open up the day and that's unconstitutional, but again the supreme court has no mechanism for enforcing that other than reviewing cases that come up," says Dr. Parker. He says a school can allow student-run religious groups as long as they are voluntary and after school.  But during the day and at games, it's more problematic. "There is precedent that suggests even if it is student led, student run, if this school is sort of allowing it to be conducted on school property, it carries with it a school endorsement and still considered to be an inappropriate connection between church and state."

 

  • News NowMore>>

  • TRAFFIC ALERT: Fatal crash on I-49

    TRAFFIC ALERT: Fatal crash on I-49

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-07-24 13:51:10 GMT
    Shreveport Police are on the scene of a fatal crash this morning at I-49 and Pierremont. 
    Shreveport Police are on the scene of a fatal crash this morning at I-49 and Pierremont. 
  • Griffin's Good Life: Aubrey Laurie

    Griffin's Good Life: Aubrey Laurie

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:47 AM EDT2014-07-24 11:47:32 GMT
    During our KTBS/KPXJ CW 21 Vacations we meet many interesting characters.One of the travelers that headed to Alaska was 77 year old Aubrey Lurie who took the trip with his wife Joan."We enjoy traveling very much," he said, "Mainly because of the broadening experience of travel. You know they say travel is not only a broadening experience, it increases the conversation."And for Lurie, his age isn't a hindrance when it comes to travel.Mainly because he does have experience. Lurie was born in So...
    During our KTBS/KPXJ CW 21 Vacations we meet many interesting characters.One of the travelers that headed to Alaska was 77 year old Aubrey Lurie who took the trip with his wife Joan."We enjoy traveling very much," he said, "Mainly because of the broadening experience of travel. You know they say travel is not only a broadening experience, it increases the conversation."And for Lurie, his age isn't a hindrance when it comes to travel.Mainly because he does have experience. Lurie was born in So...
  • Mall St Vincent construction update

    Mall St Vincent construction update

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:31 AM EDT2014-07-24 10:31:49 GMT
    If you drive down St Vincent Avenue you'll notice Mall St Vincent is getting a makeover. Officials say the re-investment into Mall St Vincent saved the mall from closing down which would have left the city and this neighborhood with an empty shell of a mall left behind. 
    If you drive down St Vincent Avenue you'll notice Mall St Vincent is getting a makeover. Officials say the re-investment into Mall St Vincent saved the mall from closing down which would have left the city and this neighborhood with an empty shell of a mall left behind. 
  • KTBS 3 InvestigatesMore>>

  • Overton Brooks' Patient's appointment cancellation causes concern

    Overton Brooks' Patient's appointment cancellation causes concern

    Friday, July 11 2014 2:28 PM EDT2014-07-11 18:28:29 GMT
    We've been told by many veterans that they receive quality care at the V.A. hospital in Shreveport. But for some getting an appointment to see their caregivers is the challenge. According to our V.A., they do not have a problem getting patients seen quickly - and the numbers they report echo that conclusion. We’ve uncovered concerns, however, over how their numbers look so good - while patients are still waiting to be seen.“Certainly from my viewpoint here, as a veteran, as a physician, the c...
    We've been told by many veterans that they receive quality care at the V.A. hospital in Shreveport. But for some getting an appointment to see their caregivers is the challenge. According to our V.A., they do not have a problem getting patients seen quickly - and the numbers they report echo that conclusion. We’ve uncovered concerns, however, over how their numbers look so good - while patients are still waiting to be seen.“Certainly from my viewpoint here, as a veteran, as a physician, the c...
  • Overton Brooks Patient says V.A. is lying about access to care

    Overton Brooks Patient says V.A. is lying about access to care

    Friday, July 11 2014 2:14 PM EDT2014-07-11 18:14:50 GMT
    So far we've brought you a whistle blower employee, and then, after two weeks of waiting, you heard the official V.A. response. But it's said that there are three sides to every story.“We're not challenged for access at Overton Brooks, we can provide same day access, that's why we're encouraging same day access, that's why we're encouraging veterans to enroll into our system.” Those are the words from Interim Director at Overton Brooks V.A. Medical Center, Toby Mathew, during the news confere...
    So far we've brought you a whistle blower employee, and then, after two weeks of waiting, you heard the official V.A. response. But it's said that there are three sides to every story.“We're not challenged for access at Overton Brooks, we can provide same day access, that's why we're encouraging same day access, that's why we're encouraging veterans to enroll into our system.” Those are the words from Interim Director at Overton Brooks V.A. Medical Center, Toby Mathew, during the news confere...
  • Shreveport V.A. Whistleblower: "This behavior is built into the foundation."

    Shreveport V.A. Whistleblower: "This behavior is built into the foundation."

    Thursday, July 10 2014 11:18 AM EDT2014-07-10 15:18:48 GMT
    Ever since allegations that veterans died waiting for care came out of phoenix, we've all been asking, why, and how could an organization aimed at helping our servicemen and women foster an atmosphere where this has gone on for so long? 
    Ever since allegations that veterans died waiting for care came out of phoenix, we've all been asking, why, and how could an organization aimed at helping our servicemen and women foster an atmosphere where this has gone on for so long? 
  • Assignment EducationMore>>

  • Caddo School's human resource department audited; issues with drug testing

    Caddo School's human resource department audited; issues with drug testing

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 8:09 PM EDT2014-07-24 00:09:55 GMT
    A new audit of the Caddo Parish School's Human Resources Department in 2013 is out and shows some interesting things when it comes to the system's drug testing policies.
    A new audit of the Caddo Parish School's Human Resources Department in 2013 is out and shows some interesting things when it comes to the system's drug testing policies.
  • Lawsuit filed against Gov. Jindal over Common Core

    Lawsuit filed against Gov. Jindal over Common Core

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:08 AM EDT2014-07-23 09:08:35 GMT
    Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal because of his actions against the multi-state standards.
    Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal because of his actions against the multi-state standards.
  • Suspect arrested in bomb scare on Louisiana campus

    Suspect arrested in bomb scare on Louisiana campus

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:06 AM EDT2014-07-23 09:06:48 GMT
    Authorities say a man accused of making a bomb threat that shut down the University of Louisiana last week also is believed to have tried unsuccessfully to rob a bank.
    Authorities say a man accused of making a bomb threat that shut down the University of Louisiana last week also is believed to have tried unsuccessfully to rob a bank.
  • NationalMore>>

  • Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

    Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-07-24 15:26:28 GMT
    For the first time in more than 30 years, paleontologists are preparing excavate a sinkhole-type cave in northern Wyoming that contains the ancient remains of tens of thousands of animals.
    For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America's most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom...
  • Virginia police: 2 dead after storm at campground

    Virginia police: 2 dead after storm at campground

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:25 AM EDT2014-07-24 15:25:57 GMT
    Virginia State Police say two were killed and at least 20 injured when a fierce storm slammed a campground on the state's Eastern Shore.
    Virginia State Police say two were killed and at least 20 injured when a fierce storm slammed a campground on the state's Eastern Shore.
  • Mother, daughter die after Philly food truck blast

    Mother, daughter die after Philly food truck blast

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:25 AM EDT2014-07-24 15:25:54 GMT
    A mother and teenage daughter have died of injuries they suffered in a fiery explosion inside their food truck earlier this month, authorities said Thursday.
    A mother and teenage daughter have died of injuries they suffered in a fiery explosion inside their food truck earlier this month, authorities said Thursday.
  • KTBS 3 News Tips

    Send your news tip or story idea to the KTBS 3 Newsroom.  Enter your email address below to get started.

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thank you for your submission to KTBS 3 News.  A member of our staff may contact you for more information.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • TRAFFIC ALERT: Fatal crash on I-49

    TRAFFIC ALERT: Fatal crash on I-49

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-07-24 13:51:10 GMT
    Shreveport Police are on the scene of a fatal crash this morning at I-49 and Pierremont. 
    Shreveport Police are on the scene of a fatal crash this morning at I-49 and Pierremont. 
  • TRENDING NOW - Plane incidents: Should you avoid flying?

    TRENDING NOW - Plane incidents: Should you avoid flying?

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:23 AM EDT2014-07-24 11:23:22 GMT
    Several recent high-profile plane incidents may have you wondering if it's safe to fly. The latest occurred just this morning when an Air Algerie plane with 116 people aboard disappeared from radar.
    Several recent high-profile plane incidents may have you wondering if it's safe to fly. The latest occurred just this morning when an Air Algerie plane with 116 people aboard disappeared from radar.
  • Mall St Vincent construction update

    Mall St Vincent construction update

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:31 AM EDT2014-07-24 10:31:49 GMT
    If you drive down St Vincent Avenue you'll notice Mall St Vincent is getting a makeover. Officials say the re-investment into Mall St Vincent saved the mall from closing down which would have left the city and this neighborhood with an empty shell of a mall left behind. 
    If you drive down St Vincent Avenue you'll notice Mall St Vincent is getting a makeover. Officials say the re-investment into Mall St Vincent saved the mall from closing down which would have left the city and this neighborhood with an empty shell of a mall left behind. 
Share Your Images
Powered by WorldNow
    Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KTBS. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
    Advertising | EEO Public File | KTBS 3 Public File | KPXJ 21 Public File