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Kopplin fought righteous battles in 2011 and this year during the legislative sessions to have the LSAT repealed.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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DEC 11 It's the holiday season, and that means you can count on seeing some pretty crazy stuff going down at the Wal-Mart, but this story out of Marshall, Texas takes the cake. A man went in and attacked a couple of people with a hatchet. Who stopped him? A customer who started launching soup cans at him -- and connected with his noggin. The story tells us that while some folk were injured, everyone's been released from the hospital.
DEC 11 Blogger Tom Aswell joins the ranks of those looking into the "Fund for Louisiana's Future," which of course is not really aimed at improving our future. So far, it seems aimed at getting Louisiana to remove its $100,000 cap on campaign contributions, he tells us. Also, it is overseen by the same guy who tried to give us President Mitt Romney -- and he seems bent on picking our next governor.
DEC 11 Here's a post on NOLA Defender from the chef de cuisine at Delmonico's about gumbo. Chef Anthony Scanio shares childhood food memories that aren't quite a warm and fuzzy cliche -- but they certainly sound authentic. His personal story isn't just about food, it's a true New Orleans boy's upbringing. It's a cool story, and it ends with recipes for seafood gumbo and red beans.
DEC 11 Blogger Lou Gehrig Burnett writes here on Bayou Buzz about GOP efforts to mount a candidate against Sen. Mary Landrieu -- "a" being the operative word. So far, Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness are both in the race, and as long as the ultra-conservative Maness remains he poses a threat to the Republicans' hopes to unseat Mary. There's also a bit on what's up in Texas -- where Gov. Rick Perry's rejection of Medicaid money is causing other lawmakers some trouble.
DEC 11 Qualifying for New Orleans municipal races opens today, and Gambit's Clancy DuBos is most interested in people running against Sheriff Marlin Gusman, a frequent topic of Clancy's posts -- and a lot of other media posts as well. So far, the most interesting candidate expected to qualify is former sheriff Charles Foti. But Gusman's biggest enemy may be himself, given his 33 percent approval rating.
DEC 11 It may be the season of brotherly love, but John Maginnis is not falling for David Vitter's Christmas story. In this post, he poo-poos the very idea that Vitter and his family will spend the holidays in prayerful reflection so that they can decide if the Senator will run for governor. He also gives some predictions on what could happen if Vitter did get elected, throwing in a cautionary reference to the big ole egg laid by the GOP up in North Louisiana's recent Congressional race.
DEC 11 Well, knock us over with a rainbow-colored feather. The Shreveport City Council passed an ordinance granting equal protection to LGBT folks, this KSLA story reports. It basically forbids discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation. According to the story, city workers already have had that protection, since 2009.
DEC 11 That nice lady over in Denham Springs must still be mad at her neighbors for stealing her dog, because she's back up on her roof, making a big ole "one finger salute" in Christmas lights. This story in the Advocate even gives us a picture of the process underway, in case you are experiencing a similar situation and would like some finger-display-creation tips.
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