My name is Zack Kopplin and I’m a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School.
I want to start by thanking you for the BESE committee’s strong vote of support on Tuesday.
Today will be my third time testifying before BESE committees, urging the adoption of life science textbooks that teach correct science backed by evidence. By that I mean teaching the theory of evolution without disclaimers, apologies, or alternatives intended to undermine it.
So how can I stand before you and say:
“Despite all we know, much of nature remains a mystery.”
“Learning about science means more than just understanding
what we know. It also means understanding what we don’t
“You may be surprised to hear this, but science rarely “proves”
anything in absolute terms.”
“Uncertainty is part of the scientific process.”
“No theory is considered absolute truth.”
“There is also significant uncertainty about exactly how life began.”
Wouldn’t this perspective on science seem to contradict my support for the Miller-Levine biology textbooks?
It would, but only if you haven’t read the textbook and don’t realize that every one of those statements comes straight out of it. That’s right. Every one of those statements comes directly from Miller-Levine.
Just like there is no controversy among scientists about the theory of evolution, there is no real controversy about whether the scientific method welcomes and embraces challenges to conventionally held views, sometimes called academic freedom in these hearings.
The reason this works is because a key qualification of science is that it is expandable. The easiest way to explain that is to say that there is always a new place to go with science, something new to discover, a new theory to research, a new hypothesis to test. That’s what makes science so exciting! That’s what lends itself so readily to the principles of academic freedom.
But academic freedom to challenge conventional views in science requires evidence. There is no scientific evidence about the flaws of evolution. There is no controversy among scientists. There is debate about details on the cutting edge of evolutionary biology, but the theory is sound.
These textbooks aren’t meant to address these extremely advanced facets of the theory. They are meant to give students a strong understanding of the basics of evolution that their future scientific studies will build upon. These books do just that.
Unfortunately what I said above doesn’t even apply to this debate. This debate really isn’t about the science. This debate is about a small group of people, the creationists, who are attempting to force the unconstitutional, unscientific teaching of creationism onto Louisiana’s public school students. We can pretend this is not what the debate is about, but no one is fooled.
As I said Tuesday, Louisiana students deserve to be taught the most accurate science there is so we can get good jobs in the global economy. India is teaching their students evolution, same with Britain and France. Every other state is too. If Louisiana students are not given proper science educations, they will not be successful in the modern, technology based, global economy.
I’ll repeat: “When you search “evolution” jobs on Monster.com, there are 520 jobs that come up. 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.
Louisiana’s students would much rather have thousands of different job opportunities rather than zero. They deserve those thousands of job opportunities too. They will not get them if we don’t adopt these books and undermine the teaching of the theory of evolution.
I know everyone here wants the students of Louisiana to succeed. Please don’t put barriers up that will put us at a disadvantage with the rest of the world.
I want to thank you again for your vote on Tuesday and urge the full board votes to support the committee recommendation. Thank you.