Louisiana officials have often been far from favorable when it comes to church-state separation, so today we are particularly happy to salute school officials in Orleans Parish for doing the right thing.
This week, the Orleans Parish School Board voted to reject any science textbook “which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories.”
A policy was also adopted that will prohibit science teachers from lecturing on creationism or religion.
“No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach any aspect of religious faith as science or in a science class. No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes,” the new policy states.
That’s a pretty big deal in a state led by Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is on a mission to hand over millions of taxpayer dollars to religious schools through vouchers and is perfectly happy to have his government subsidize “creation science.”
Fortunately, Orleans Parish School Board President Thomas Robichaux has other ideas. He not only led the effort to keep out creationism, he also helped make sure Orleans Parish schools won’t be buying revisionist history books, either.
Naturally some folks didn’t like what Robichaux has been up to, and he addressed those critics with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt.
“‘It is not the critic who counts…’” Robichaux said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “‘The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.’”
Robichaux added, “I am proud to have been in the arena with all of you.”
Although Robichaux’s term as board president is ending, it appears he is not alone in the effort to stop Jindal’s agenda. In May, the New Orleans City Council unanimously called for the repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows creationist concepts to be taught in public schools.
I hope these developments are the just the beginning of a wide-ranging effort to reject the promotion of religious doctrine in Louisiana’s public schools, but there is no chance Jindal and his Religious Right allies are ready to give in. Although his voucher program has been handed some recent defeats in court, Jindal has said he will fight on.
Louisiana has attempted to force religion into public schools since the days of Huey Long, and there is still a very long way to go before Louisiana joins the ranks of the states with the best public education systems.
But as 2012 comes to a close, we are a lot more hopeful that Louisiana will finally defeat those who want to indoctrinate children at taxpayer expense. Here’s hoping 2013 brings more good news from the Pelican State.