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Kopplin fought righteous battles in 2011 and this year during the legislative sessions to have the LSAT repealed.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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NOV 21 Bobby Jindal is headed to Iowa again, the Des Moines Register reports here. The paper outlines what's going on with Bobby's non-campaign for president, and there's a lot of stuff here -- too bad none of it sounds like somebody running Louisiana. Hey, wasn't that the job he wanted?
NOV 21 The end of the term has come for the grand jury investigating a lucrative Medicaid contract and a former state health official's ties to the company that won it, the Advocate reports here, but that doesn't mean the investigation into this stinkiness is over. There are still some things to look into, the lead prosecutor says.
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NOV 21 Here's a weird one: The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Bill Cassidy for the U.S. Senate. Apparently, Mary Landrieu said she wouldn't consider support of medical marijuana but Cassidy said he would, WWL reports here.
NOV 21 Solange Knowles, possibly best-known for assaulting her brother-in-law in an elevator while wearing an ugly dress after the Met Ball, got married in the Marigny Opera House this past weekend, the New York Times reports here. Knowles, who has a house in the Faubourg Marigny district and owns a boutique in the Quarter, married Alan Ferguson.
NOV 21 This post on the Fuel Fix blog outlines a $1.4 billion move announced this week by the Apache Corp. that includes the sale of assets in south Louisiana. The company's interests in more than 90,000 acres in south Louisiana are some of the assets being sold, the post reports.
NOV 21 One (possible) positive from Hurricane Katrina is a comprehensive zoning ordinance for New Orleans. Nine years later, we're getting closer to that being finalized, but the current version has some problems. Here's the latest in a series of posts on The Lens in which residents give their views of the draft; this one is more amusing than most.
NOV 21 The new NOLA smoking ordinance is going to harsh your (nicotine) buzz, man. This post on Gambit outlines the high (or low, as the case may be) points: it includes electronic cigarettes and hookahs in its bans; eliminates smoking within 25 feet of any building's public entrance and in any public space - or near any public space - operated by the city.
NOV 20 Politico reports here that Bobby Jindal won't be kept out of the presidential race by anyone else's candidacy. (If he's running, which he's not, 'cause he's not done prayin' on it) So he's not interested in who is running, or what the polls say, or how much money he's got? K.
NOV 20 NOLA Defender's Tiny Daiquiri has a little fun with Bobby Jindal's Meet the Press appearance in this post. Bobby is still prayin' on whether or not he'll run for the job he's been running for over the past three years, Tiny says.
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