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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Louisiana Follow-Up ("Academic Freedom Act")

The House voted 94 to 3 yesterday in favor of an "academic freedom" bill that would allow science teachers to use supplemental material "that promotes 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." Critics, however, see these "academic freedom" bills, which have popped up in half a dozen states, as just the latest strategy in the attempt to get religious theories like creationism and "intelligent design" into the science classroom (Barbara Forrest, author of Creationism's Trojan Horse and a member of the Louisiana Coalition of Science, has written an analysis of Louisiana's version). Even though an amendment, added earlier by a House committee, would allow the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to veto any supplemental material it felt was inappropriate, many worry about what will still find its way into the schools.
The bill will now move back to the Senate, which will have to approve the amendment before it can reach Governor Bobby Jindal's desk. The Senate previously passed the bill without the amendment by a vote of 35 to 0, and the consensus seems to be that the bill will easily pass again. —Heather Wax