My name is Zack Kopplin and I am a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School.
At this point, I’d like to ask all current public school students or parents who are here today to stand up. Board members, we are the public school families who you will affect decision. It is our future jobs that are at stake. Please don’t make your decision based on the wishes of people who aren’t even in public schools.
I am here to urge that BESE adopt life science textbooks that are backed by scientific evidence. That means textbooks that teach the theory of evolution. We need new textbooks now, and we need them without any disclaimers, revisions, or supplemental materials designed to undermine evolution.
To be successful in the global economy and get good science and technology based jobs, Louisiana students must be taught correct science and be taught the theory of evolution.
Today, you will hear from creationists who oppose these textbooks. They will try to block the adoption of these books, or say we need disclaimers or supplementary materials, points I addressed in my testimony to the Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council on November 12th which is attached for your review.
The creationists have brought up new arguments that I will address today. They are now arguing that the textbooks need to “teach more Darwin,” specifically those chapters of The Origin of Species where Darwin identified criticisms of his theory at the time he originally proposed it way back in the 1850’s.
That’s absurd. We’re talking about modern biology textbooks that need to teach us current scientific evidence. We’re not talking about a textbook for a History of Science class. When creationists say they want educators to teach more Darwin, it is probably because they want us to believe that the scientific understanding of evolution has not advanced since Darwin did his original research 150 years ago.
Of course, our understanding of evolution along with all of modern science has advanced immeasurably since Darwin’s time. Evolution has withstood 150 years of constant attack, and because of that attack, has been refined into one of the strongest and best supported scientific theories we have.
The Origin of Species is a historical document, just like Newton’s Principa or Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus. Science textbooks should not teach, for example, that Newton’s theories about the occult and Copernicus’ misconceptions that the planets had circular orbits are still valid today.
So please don’t take advice on textbooks from folks who don’t understand the difference between science curriculum and history curriculum.
Asking to teach “more Darwin” is a straw man designed to undermine the teaching of evolution.
This straw man distracts us from the real agenda behind this attack on textbooks. This attack boils down to a harmful attempt to undermine the theory of evolution and stealthily insert the unconstitutional and unscientific teaching of creationism and its offshoot intelligent design into the classroom.
Intelligent design creationism is not correct science, and is not backed up by the evidence. Evolution is. Evolution is what will prepare us for success in the global economy, creationism will not.
To illustrate this point, when you search “evolution” jobs on Monster.com, there are 520 jobs you can choose from. When you search “biologist,” there are over a thousand jobs.
When you search “creationism,” “creation science,” or “creationist” on Monster Jobs, you get a message saying “Sorry, there are 0 creationist jobs.”
That’s right. There are zero creationist jobs available for Louisiana students to pursue. Not one.
So we need to be taught correct science so we can get the jobs that are being created in the life sciences that require an understanding of evolutionary biology.
Undermining the teaching of evolution in science class in an attempt to insert the unconstitutional and unscientific teaching of creationism harms the students of Louisiana and will not prepare us for success in the global economy. It is BESE’s job to provide the students of Louisiana with textbooks that will allow us to be successful in the global economy.
It has been 8 years since we have had new science textbooks. We need them now.
I ask BESE to do the right thing and adopt textbooks that teach correct science that is supported by evidence, which means the theory of evolution.
If you are worried that school districts don’t have enough money to buy textbooks this year, remember you are not requiring them to buy textbooks. You are only authorizing updated textbooks. And if every school district bought new biology textbooks next year, the cost is $3 million, not $50 million.
Thank you for your time today. I am attaching a number of supplementary materials in support of my position, including a book from the National Academy of Science called Science, Evolution and Creationism.
Thank you again.