Part 3 in series: Jindal, What's up with That?
Jindal's catering to Ultra Right for political gain hurts Louisiana.
by Bill Barrow, The Times Picayune
Monday February 16, 2009
BATON ROUGE -- A national organization of scientists has informed Gov. Bobby Jindal it will not hold its annual convention in Louisiana as long as the recently adopted Science Education Act remains on the books. See the letter HERE.
The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology told Jindal in a recent letter that its executive committee chose Salt Lake City for its 2011 convention over New Orleans "in large part" because of the legislation. Satterlie's letter is posted on the group's Web site under the headline: "No Thanks, New Orleans."
"That's too bad," Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said of the group's decision. "New Orleans is a first-class city for a convention." Plotkin said the governor did not respond to Satterlie's letter.
Jindal signed the law last year, agreeing with its supporters that science teachers need wider latitude to use supplemental materials for lessons on topics such as evolutionary biology, global warming and cloning.
State teachers unions have said educators already are free to use materials other than text books, though a handful of students testified before lawmakers that teachers are sometimes unsure of how to handle questions that challenge established scientific theories, particularly evolution.
Many science groups, both in Louisiana and nationally, urged the governor to veto the bill. They cast the act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, as a back-door attempt to allow Judeo-Chrisitan creation theology or "intelligent design" -- the concept that biological life forms are the result of an intelligent being -- to be taught as part of science class.
The act allows local school boards to approve supplemental materials as part of its curriculum. The state school board retains power under the law to bar specific materials, either on its own or after a public hearing on a citizen complaint about specific texts approved at the local level.
"It is the firm opinion of SICB's leadership that this law undermines the integrity of science and science education in Louisiana," Richard Satterlie, president of the society, wrote to Jindal.
According to Satterlie, New Orleans "has been a popular venue" for the the 2,300-member organization in the past. Satterlie told Jindal that the 2009 meeting brought more than 1,850 scientists and graduate students to Boston for five days last month.