Louisiana has been the site of repeated battles over teaching creationism in public schools, so it was something of a surprise in November when members of the state's Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council voted 8-4 to support biology textbooks that uphold evolutionary instruction.
The flap started after members of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), an influential Religious Right group in the state, announced opposition to proposed new science textbooks, claiming they give too much credibility to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
The LFF, which frequently promotes "intelligent design," said the books were not in keeping with the Science Education Act, a Louisiana measure that allows teachers to introduce into the classroom "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials" about evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.
Days later, in response to the LFF's complaints, the advisory council met for a hearing to review the issue and make a recommendation to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Americans United and its allies in the state braced for the worst, fearing that the hearing would become yet another opportunity for the LFF to chip away at evolution and sound science curriculum.
Barbara Forrest, an ID opponent and member of the AU Board of Trustees, observed on her blog, "Past experience - which has been utterly and entirely consistent since the introduction and passage of the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) in 2008 - suggested that this meeting would be just another railroad job."
Forrest, a Southeastern Louisiana University professor and co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, cited the state's previous disregard for science education.
In 2008, the legislature adamantly passed the Science Education Act, after the measure was heavily pushed by the LFF. After that, the state allowed LFF activists to take control of a policy that would implement...