Committee adopts new administrative handbook for La. Science Ed. Act - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Committee adopts new administrative handbook for La. Science Ed. Act

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Sen. Ben Nevers - State Senator Sen. Ben Nevers - State Senator
Dale Bayard - La. Education Board Chairman Dale Bayard - La. Education Board Chairman
Steve Monaghan - La. Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan - La. Federation of Teachers President

By Caroline Moses - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A state education committee adopted a new administrative handbook Tuesday, as part of the recently passed Louisiana Science Education Act.

The handbook does not specifically ban teaching Creationism or Intelligent Design. Supporters say it doesn't need to because teaching religion in public schools is already banned, which is why opponents say this entire debate is a costly distraction from the real issues facing state public schools.

Senator Ben Nevers of Bogalusa proposed a bill last session that became law called the Louisiana Science Education Act. It gives state education committees the authority to decide what can be taught in state schools. However, the committee was a little vague about what's allowed. "It's up to BESE to implement this in our policy," said Dale Bayard, chairman of the state education board. "It's up to us to provide students with every possible element of new discovery and that's the intent of the act."

Gene Mills with Louisiana Family Forum asked Senator Nevers to sponsor the original legislation. He says the intent is to promote "critical thinking" in classrooms, especially science classes. Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, says not a single teacher in his organization has complained about current science materials. "The time spent on this issue may be in total excess of what the problem was because we don't believe there was a problem in the science classroom anyway."

Even the committee chair, Dale Bayard, who is in favor of the legislation, agreed. Lesson plans may not change much, but he says their hours of debate do help further the discussion. "We don't discourage any discussion that's important," said Bayard. "I believe what this has done is create a stage for what unfortunately seems to be an embedded political movement. We're going to find ourselves getting tied into knots over issues people are invested in by faith, emotion, and miss the big picture," said Monaghan.

He says he predicts there will likely be future legal battles over the new law and handbook. Bayard says he is not worried about possible litigation. Thursday, BESE will review the committee adoption. State school board and committee member Dale Bayard expects BESE will ratify the committee's decision. For more information on this discussion, click here.

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