In 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana state law requiring the teaching of creationism was unconstitutional because it promoted one particular religion.
In 2005, a US District Court, again in Louisiana, ruled teaching “intelligent design” was also unconstitutional because it was not scientific and encompassed creationism, which had already been banned from public school curriculums.
Yet in 2014, a state-approved proposal which essentially allowed Louisiana educators to teach anti-evolution and anti-climate change lessons through the use of “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials” failed to be repealed by the Louisiana Senate Education Committee.
Louisiana’s Republican Governor Bobby Jindal even won a fight to set up a voucher program that allows public funds to be used for private education, including religious schools that had creationism in their curriculum. The program was thankfully later ruled unconstitutional.
It is actions like these that show just how misguided the GOP’s views on science and education are. Conservative legislators are making it possible for red states to make their students scientifically illiterate when compared to other parts of the country, and the rest of the world.
Just last week, the United Kingdom banned the teaching of creationism in both free schools and academies, which are the UK’s equivalent to charter schools. But in America, states are legally allowing children to be fed false information and taught pseudoscience as though it is fact. At least five states, including Louisiana, have passed, attempted, or are attempting to enact anti-evolution, anti-science legislation into their school systems so far this year.
For example, a Missouri bill, sponsored by state representative Rick Brattin (R-District 55), would allow parents to have their children “opt out” of lessons focusing on evolution. Brattin told the Kansas City Star that requiring children to learn about evolution is “an absolute infringement on people’s rights” and that evolution is “just as much pulled out of the air as, say, any religion.”
South Carolina Republicans look to revise state science standards to include constructing “scientific arguments that seem to support and scientific arguments that seem to discredit Darwinian natural selection.”
In 2013, it was reported that “22 education systems scored above the U.S.” in science, which was barely average among the 65 most-developed countries providing test scores. If these GOP-controlled states aren’t stopped from further damaging their students, America is at risk of falling even farther behind the rest of the world than it already is.