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Kopplin fought righteous battles in 2011 and this year during the legislative sessions to have the LSAT repealed.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.
Hear the roughly 10-minute podcast here.