Rice University sophomore Zack Kopplin, a 2010 graduate of Baton Rouge Magnet High School and fledgeling Jindal administration gadfly, is keeping the pressure on the state Department of Education to exercise a modicum of transparency in its application of the Louisiana Scholarship Program, AKA the voucher program that is funneling millions of public tax dollars to private, Christian schools that unabashedly teach creationism as science.
Appearing on the Rev. Welton Gaddy’s radio program, “State of Belief,” over the weekend, Kopplin accused the state of violating the U.S. Constitution by leaning on the much-ballyhooed Louisiana Science Education Act as a loophole for allowing state dollars to underwrite the teaching of creationism at private schools.
“Gov. Jindal is a Brown University biology major; there’s no way he doesn’t understand evolution,” Kopplin tells Gaddy. “It would be an insult to Brown University and great professors like Ken Miller who teach there to say that their students don’t actually understand the importance of evolution in biology ... it’s looking like there’s a deliberate pattern of promoting creationism in Louisiana to pander to far right groups like the Louisiana Family Forum.”
Kopplin fought righteous battles in 2011 and this year during the legislative sessions to have the LSAT repealed. The act, signed into law in 2008 by Jindal, allows public schools to introduce “supplementary materials” that question Darwinian evolutionary theory and/or introduce students to Intelligent Design, which is creationism cloaked in scientific terms.
Kopplin believes, rightly, that the Jindalistas used “education reform” as a way of slipping the voucher program into state law, thus placating their rightwing masters at Family Forum. And, Kopplin adds, the administration and especially state Superintendent John White, have done a masterful job of winning the rhetorical battle with critics. “They’ve done a very good job of strawmanning their opponents in that any calls for accountability in this program would be harming school choice and would be attacking parents, so it’s put anyone who asks for accountability on the defensive.”
In the interview broadcast Saturday Kopplin cites a provision in state law that, if pressed by critics of the voucher program, should at the very least open the door to public hearings on the Louisiana Scholarship Program.
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AUG 29 Everyone who cares about Louisiana should take time to peruse this story about coastal loss from Bob Marshall of The Lens. It's not enough to call it a story; it's an interactive experience packed with data and amazing graphics, timelines, history, photos and excellent writing. Set aside some time, because you can't go through this one in a few minutes.
JUN 29 This bizarre story from the Advocate on the shooting of a Baton Rouge television personality reads like the script of a soap opera - but not a good one. The allegations against him include sexual abuse of children, including the alleged shooter, and a sham immigration marriage involving his own daughter. The other side? He was a chaplin for the Sheriff's Office in Baton Rouge and preached in a local church.
AUG 29 Here's a story from CBS News about a killer amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish. The story made all three networks (CBS, ABC, NBC) as well as Fox "News," although they have not yet found out how it is Obama's fault. Seriously, the good news is that so far officials know of no one sickened by the water.
AUG 29 Huffington Post has a blog called Love Letters, which is grandly described as "an anthology of reflections on places the world over." This entry is from LSU Football Coach Les Miles, who, it appears, loves Baton Rouge. (Of course he does; he's a rich straight white man.) And certainly Baton Rouge loves him - unless he loses (ask Curley "Golden Flake" Hallman about that) or leaves (ask Nick Saban).
AUG 29 Blogger Bob Mann comments here upon Governor Bobby Jindal's federal lawsuit about Common Core. Mann calls it a "thinly veiled campaign document" and that might be the nicest thing he says in this post. Most troubling for Jindal and his aspirations, Mann has unearthed what Bobby said just a few years ago when he first decided to shove Common Core down our throats.
AUG 29 Blogger Tom Aswell has several developments here related to the so-called Edmonson amendment. The most entertaining one is possibly Tom's acknowledgement that a State Police official is (allegedly) calling the bloggers covering the story some colorful names. Listen up, cowboy: You really think two veterans like Tom Aswell and CB Forgotston care if you call them idiots?
AUG 29 Gotta love those journalists who write something with the enthusiasm that implies they're the first one to figure something out. Mostly, they're not. This is one of those times; the post on Slate Magazine says that Bobby Jindal's Common Core lawsuit is a political stunt. Well - Duh.
AUG 29 This story by WVLA tells us about a guy who got busted for speeding in Baton Rouge. Who cares? This guy took that infraction to new heights by going 129 miles per hour on Nicholson Drive. Poor fella - he probably has spent so much time sitting in Baton Rouge traffic he just had to cut lose.
AUG 28 As the controversy surrounding the Office of Group Benefits intensifies, blogger Tom Aswell gives us some background on the current problems. The OGB, which handles health insurance for current and retired state employees, is deep in the red since it was privatized by Jindal, and Aswell gives us the skinny: this great plan was designed by ALEC. The company handling it? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana - a longtime member of ALEC.
AUG 28 Blogger CB Forgotston has a concept for a new reality show: the wives of the "Dork Dynasty." That's the name that some troopers have given to State Police Commander Mike Edmonson and his inner circle. The ladies CB has picked for his cast are not just housewives, however, and the connections here are pretty interesting.
AUG 28 Blogger Ian McGibboney is writing about the strife in Ferguson in this post, and articulating what many people down south are saying. There's a fairy tale about how there's tons of racism in the South, but it's all hunky dory up North. (Really? Look again.)
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