Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is promising a reprise of its successful suit against the injection of Intelligent Design Creationism into the Dover, Pennsylvania public schools, should Louisiana follow the same path.
Louisiana's House of Representatives today approved the so-called "Science Education Act," which is generally expected to be signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. As I've explained before, this version of the "academic freedom" bills, of all the ones proposed so far, is most conducive to effective monitoring by groups supportive of good science education. In particular, "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials" are supposed to be used only after the material in approved textbooks is taught. The supplemental materials must first be approved by the local public school board and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education can prohibit the use of any particular materials. Therefore, there are several procedures that provide notice of what materials are about to be used and both the local and state boards can be sued for approving or permitting the use of creationist materials, instead of having to chase after individual teachers as other versions of this legislation threatened to make necessary.
On the other hand, it's good to see Americans United putting the various authorities on notice that science supporters aren't going to just roll over and let them quietly slip religion into science classes. There could be another fun trial in the works.
And it's not like Americans United has to spend a lot monitoring the whole state. If some school board is going to try to use this law to teach creationism, it probably will be Tangipahoa Parish's which, at last count, had wracked up seven lawsuits by the ACLU, all of which it lost or had to settle.
All Americans United has to do is wait.