Bill to repeal LSEA stalls in committee
BATON ROUGE- After hours of testimony, lawmakers deferred a bill intended to repeal a law critics say allows creationism to be taught in public schools.
Senate Bill 26, authored by Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, sought to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, which some say allows teachers to use supplemental materials that could be used to teach creationism alongside scientific theories like evolution.
The bill was deferred by a 3-2 vote on a motion by Senator Mike Walsworth of West Monroe.
"Louisiana students deserve to be taught sound science, and that means the theory of evolution, not creationism," testified Zack Kopplin, a Baton Rouge High graduate, at the hearing today.
Kopplin has received national exposure for his efforts to repeal the LSEA, and said the current law is causing a stir in the scientific community, hurting Louisiana's ability to hire the best and brightest scientific minds.
"We are not going to produce more scientists, attract the best and the brightest and compete worldwide, if the biggest part of our scientific reputation comes from being the state with a creationism law," said Kopplin.
More than 70 Nobel Prize-winning scientists have urged the scrapping of the law passed in 2008, with repeal supporters say it's a back-door way to teach creationism.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and Christian conservatives oppose the repeal, saying the law promotes critical thinking and strengthens education.
"I just want the message to get out there that Louisiana does not support or promote the teaching of religious doctrine in the classroom, period, it's in our laws, it's in our textbooks," said Sen. Conrad Appel, from Metarie.
Senator Dan Claitor offered an amendment that would also repeal an old law, already found unconstitutional, that required creationism be taught in schools.
"I don't personally want Louisiana to be perceived as a backwoods place that's teaching creationism in the classroom," said Claitor.