The ACLU of Louisiana today expressed its great disappointment with the Louisiana legislature for its support of a bill designed to undermine science education by promoting the teaching of religious doctrine. Senate Bill 733, dubbed the "Science Education Act," will open the door to the introduction of materials that have been found unconstitutional both in Louisiana and in other states, and will erode the quality of education for public school students.
"We hope that this bill will do what it says, which is to enhance education and not introduce religion into the classrooms," said Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "But with the history of the bill and related efforts in other states, we believe that this is a disguised plan to use Discovery Institute materials, which are religious in nature and which explicitly contradict the established teaching of science." The Discovery Institute, operating out of Seattle, Washington, is a private organization that publishes "text add-ons" and other materials, based on "creation science" or "intelligent design," which is religiously based and has been twice ruled unconstitutional.
The 1987 Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard overturned a Louisiana law requiring teachers to "balance" the teaching of evolution with creationism. In 2005, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District that intelligent design is a form of creationism and that teaching it is an unconstitutional entanglement of religion with the state.
"Rather than working to help Louisiana students move forward and have the best possible science education, the legislature has decided to thrust Louisiana back into the 1920s to fight once again the battles over evolution. Louisiana should be educating its students to be scientists, biotech engineers, and leaders of the future. Instead, the legislature has decided to undermine legitimate science in favor of information that is religiously based - which really is the responsibility of parents and religious leaders, not politicians and legislators."
"The ACLU will continue to protect the rights of all Louisianians to receive quality public educations without the intrusion of religious dogma," said Esman. "If necessary, we will file appropriate lawsuits to ensure that the children of Louisiana are educated in the way that they deserve and that the Constitutions of the United States and the state of Louisiana require."