The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology announced this week in a letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal that the society would not hold future scientific meetings in Louisiana in response to the recent passage by the state legislature of the Louisiana “Science Education Act.” The letter was first reported Monday in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has also drawn coverage in The New York Times and at Discover.com.
Passed in December, the state law allows use of alternative materials and textbooks in the science classroom, including creationist ideas. The law was championed by the Louisiana Family Forum, a Christian group that says “evolutionism” is “a controversial issue” that “gets attention because it sells newspapers!” [sic].
SICB conferences generally draw about 2,000 scientists, and the Society has held three past meetings in New Orleans. For 2011, SICB has instead selected Salt Lake City, applauding the Utah State Board of Education’s rejection of a similar bill and its passage of a resolution stating that “the Theory of Evolution is a major unifying concept in science.”
Other societies are also speaking up: The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology president Gregory Petsko has declared that after its meeting in New Orleans this year, “No future meeting of our society will take place in Louisiana as long as that law stands.” The American Institute of Biological Sciences has also written letters to the state legislature and Gov. Jindal.
So bravo, SICB, for making a stand against subterfuge in the science classroom. If this bill is allowed to stand, the quality of science education in Louisiana will produce students far behind their counterparts elsewhere, in the U.S. and around the world.
Also check out the Louisiana Coalition for Science web page – a voice of reason in Louisiana.