On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved the new Louisiana Student Standards for Science with a 9-0 vote. A committee was established to review and establish the new standards. My guess is that the members of the review committee were carefully selected to guarantee a predetermined recommendation, and the sole dissenter was an unexpected anomaly. Since the beginning of the process, there has been much controversy surrounding public approval over the selection of the standards; mostly surrounding the presentation of the Theory of Evolution, Global Warming and the absence of any alternative theories. While the opposition insists that they simply want alternative theories, the real center of their concerns is the exclusion of Creationism.
It is likely that the Theory of Evolution remains an integral part of Science standards because of its integral part of History standards as they relate to Darwinism and the Scopes Trial. As for Creationism, I am indifferent; meaning I don’t particularly care whether it is included, or not. Not that I’m against it. I just view Evolution as an academic pursuit rooted in scientific research with its rightful place in school, and Creationism as a theological pursuit rooted in faith and religion with its rightful place in church and the home. The bottom line is…I wouldn’t be offended if Creationism were included, nor would I if it were excluded. Regarding Global Warming, I have a hard time believing that the presence of man, and his industrialization of the world, hasn’t affected the atmosphere and climate. It’s kinda like saying smoking doesn’t turn your lungs black; however, debating these topics is not the point of this post. I want to focus of something entirely different.
Among those who spoke, not so much against the standards, but advocating for the inclusion of Creationism, were State Representative, Beryl Amedee and President of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), Reverend Gene Mills. The reason I bring this up is because Amedee is a member of the House Education Committee (HEC). Over the last 6-7 years, both the HEC and the LFF have not only supported, but also enabled the education reform movement to take place in Louisiana. This movement brought us Common Core State Standards (CCSS), School Choice via charter schools and vouchers, unfair teacher evaluations and unreliable PARCC tests; all of which had predetermined outcomes. Whether you choose to acknowledge it, or not, the new Science standards are part of that movement.
By now, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Here is the point. Representative Amedee obviously felt strongly about Creationism being included. So strongly that she chose to drive up from Houma to attend the BESE meeting and speak. It is a wonderful thing to have that sort of passion and commitment. In this case, her efforts paid off. In the end, BESE chose to amend their original motion to include the Louisiana Science Education Act in the standards bulletin.
Here is my challenge to you Rep. Amedee. When you are seated in the education committee with parents, educators, and community members have driven for hours for the opportunity to speak to you about their concerns (as they did in June 2016 regarding the Math and ELA standards), take a moment to step back and consider the validity of their concerns and encourage your fellow committee members to do the same. In the end, it is much more productive to reach agreements than it is to drive an agenda through that has mass opposition.