Nel's New Day

May 5, 2013

Some Science Teachers Fail Students

Students throughout the nation are being taught Bible fiction instead of scientific fact thanks to fundamentalists conservatives. Louisiana seems to be the current leader in its faulty education; at least they’re recently getting the most publicity. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who decried the GOP for being crazy and stupid, seems to have changed his mind, perhaps building up his creds for GOP presidential candidate in 2016. .

When an attempt was made in April to overturn the 5-year-old Louisiana Science Education Act allows science teachers to provide instruction in creationism and belief that climate change is a myth, Jindal pushed to retain the law, asking “What are we afraid of?” Most rational, intelligent people in the United States are afraid of an ignorant generation of people who are taught falsehoods in schools that taxpayers fund.

Jindal should be afraid of something else—loss of state funding. As Louisiana State University’s former graduate dean of science, Kevin Carman, pointed out, “Pseudo-science drives scientists away.”  Students with training in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) can earn the most, but they won’t get jobs in cutting-edge scientific fields with biblical information.

Despite the urging of over 70 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, the state’s Senate Educational Committee voted 3-2 to retain the law to tech biblical information in science class as fact. Jindal joined conservatives in claiming that teaching this false information strengthens education through promoting critical thinking, claiming that students should be allowed to  “make up their own minds.” Maybe about whether the earth is flat?

Jindal has proved himself even farther right than 700 Club televangelist Pat Robertson, who opposes teaching creationism as science. Recently Robertson said that science is right and “if you fight science, you’re going to lose your children.”

Claude Bouchard, a former executive director of the top-notch Pennington Research Center, talked about the loss to students by maintaining the Science Education Act:

“[Students] will continue to believe that the laws of chemistry, physics and biology are optional when addressing the big issues of our time. Unfortunately, this is also not without economic consequences. If you are an employer in a high-tech industry, in the biotechnology sector or in a business that depends heavily on science, would you prefer to hire a graduate from a state where the legislature has in a sense declared that the laws of chemistry, physics or biology can be suspended at times or someone from a state with a rigorous science curriculum for its sons and daughters?”

Peter Kulakowsky, a biotech entrepreneur in Louisiana, recently wrote this to the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

“As the director of a biological laboratory in Louisiana, I need enlightened staff. Distracting the state’s students in their formative training [through the Louisiana Science Education Act] only cripples them.”

Scientists and entrepreneurs have pointed out that the present is as disastrous as the students’ futures. Louisiana State University’s former graduate dean of science, Kevin Carman, testified before the state legislature in 2012 that top scientists who left the university cited the Louisiana Science Education Act as a reason. He added that other scientists accepted jobs elsewhere, because they didn’t want to come to a state with a creationism law. “Teaching pseudo-science drives scientists away,” Carman said.

After the passage of the bogus science education law, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology cancelled a scheduled convention in New Orleans in 2011, costing the city an estimated $2.9 million. The organization also launched a boycott of Louisiana, causing the state to become less competitive at attracting conventions.

The boycott for New Orleans was called off after its city council endorsed a repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act and the Orleans Parish School Board banned the teaching of creationism in its schools. With the creationism being taught in the rest of the state, however, New Orleans is having difficulty finding qualified employees in science. Kristin Gisleson Palmer, a member of the city council, said:

“With the New Orleans Medical Corridor poised for tremendous growth, this law also profoundly impacts our ability to fill jobs in the cutting-edge science fields with students educated in our state’s public schools.”

Tennessee has passed a copycat bill, and other states introduce creationism bills every year. The Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that advocates for intelligent design, is circulating a model bill nationwide with similar bills introduced in Arizona, Montana, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Although the Supreme Court has ruled against teaching religion in public school science classes, teachers still use actual science textbooks and then “supplement” these with biblical fiction.

Private schools are not bound by the SCOTUS ruling which is why a South Carolina private school can get away with this little quiz for fourth graders.


This looks too far-fetched to be true, but fact-checkers have discovered that kids were actually given this test.

protest at teaching fiction as fact in the Blue Ridge Christian Academy in the Greenville area has brought out the rage from the Christian right, as shown by a column from Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis president. He probably feels that he needs to attack the protesters as “atheists” because he sells the DVD used as the basis for the test.

It’s hard to know what else is being taught in the thousands of the nation’s private schools, many of them funded by taxpayers because of the religious right pushing against separation of church and state. They may be showing this video, created by the fundamentalist Faith 2 Action group, that states, “Being gay is three times more dangerous than smoking.”

The video begins with bizarre parodies of Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate called  Heather has Two Cigarettes and Daddy’s Roommate has Lung Cancer. During the reading, the narrator, Janet Porter, compares smoking with homosexuality as health dangers with the latter being far more dangerous.

Pennsylvania is another state where students are being denied a good education, even in advanced placement classes, because 20 percent of science teachers believe in evolution. One of these teachers is Joe Sohmer (Altoona Area High School) who tells students that radiocarbon dating is wrong because the world is less than 10,000 years old. A national survey of 900 science teachers shows that 13 percent agree with Sohmer.

Teachers identifying themselves as creationists, according to the national survey, spend at least an hour of classroom time teaching that creationism is a valid scientific alternative. An unnamed Indiana County science teacher said that he teaches evolution principles “but modified to explain that data can be interpreted differently dependent upon one’s world view.” Duquesne University biology professor David Lampe, who organizes the university’s Darwin Day celebration each February, found that between 25 and 30 percent of freshman biology students have had no instruction on evolution.

Forty-six percent percent of people in the United States believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, a percentage the same as 30 years ago. One-third of the respondents think that humans evolved with God’s guidance, and 15 percent say that human evolution is not connected with God.

Apparently the United States is currently not evolving.

1 Comment »

  1. I’m dizzy from moving backwards so fast.


    Comment by Lee Lynch — May 5, 2013 @ 10:55 PM | Reply

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