“The governor and the Legislature need to listen to Louisiana’s students and teachers and the international science community and repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act.”
With an aggressive reform agenda planned for the upcoming legislative session, Gov. Bobby Jindal is positioning himself as an “education governor.” He may get a chance to further burnish those education credentials if a successful attempt at repealing the Louisiana Science Education Act makes it to his desk.
Opponents of the LSEA — a deceptively named measure signed into law in 2008 that ostensibly allows biology teachers in state public high schools to “supplement” the standard curriculum with materials that question long-established and widely accepted tenets of evolutionary biology — characterize the law as a Trojan Horse for creationists. No mainstream scientific organizations endorsed the law before it was enacted; the religious-right Louisiana Family Forum was virtually the only group to back it.
Repeal of the LSEA failed in a Senate committee last year despite the urging of more than 40 Nobel laureates in the sciences and a host of other scientific groups, but the organizer of that drive tells The Ind he’ll be back for the upcoming session in March to give it another go. Zack Kopplin was a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High last year when the repeal effort began. He’s now a freshman at Rice University and says about 30 more Nobel laureates have signed on to his effort to end the LSEA.
“We’re going to be back stronger this session,” Kopplin vows. “We’re organizing students and we’ve also received the endorsement of 72 Nobel laureate scientists.”
Last year’s bill to repeal the LSEA was sponsored by state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans. Kopplin says he hasn’t yet secured a legislator to sponsor this year’s legislation, although it appears Peterson may be ready to once again join the effort.
The LSEA passed the Legislature almost unanimously four years ago, but Kopplin says he believes the education-reform agenda of Jindal, who majored in biology, makes repealing the act a nice component of overall reform. “The governor and the Legislature are focusing on education this year,” Kopplin says. “Their first act should be to reform misguided legislation that allows creationism into public school science classrooms. They need to listen to Louisiana’s students and teachers and the international science community and repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act.”
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.