Bobby Jindal, creationist Governor of Louisiana, has endorsed Rick Perry, creationist Governor of Texas, for President of the United States. It’s not surprising. They are two of the most prominent creationist Governors in the country, and Louisiana and Texas are creationist hotbeds. They have a lot in common, and so do their states.
Both the Louisiana and Texas State Boards of Education were recently embroiled in fights over creationism and biology textbooks. Both Governors can empathize with each other that their state’s biology textbooks were not replaced with creationist materials.
Governor Jindal can also give Governor Perry lessons on how to sneak creationism into public school science classes. Back in 2008, Governor Jindal signed the misnamed and misguided Louisiana Science Education Act. The Louisiana Science Education Act allows creationism to be brought into public school science classrooms.
Despite that the Texas legislature didn’t manage to pass its own unconstitutional creationism bill, Governor Perry is trigger happy when it comes to creationism. He recently claimed, “In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.”
Neither Perry nor Jindal seem to realize how vital teaching evolution is. Biotech is going to be one of major technologies of the future. In New Orleans, they are working hard to grow their biodistrict. If Louisiana wants it’s science and technology industries to grow and its kids to work in them, we need to teach our students evolution.
At Rice University, I live directly across the street from the largest medical complex in the world. If Rick Perry wants Texas kids to get good jobs Houston’s hospitals, he is going to have to allow them to be taught evolution. Otherwise they won’t get those jobs. And the dynamism of Houston’s medical center could be threatened.
Also, both Governors come from oil rich states with energy sector jobs. But kids from Louisiana and Texas will not get jobs as petroleum geologists if we don’t understand evolution.
I can understand Governor Perry’s bad attitude towards science. He made a C in his genetics class. Given his organic chemistry scores, I’m sometimes afraid he’s going to start insisting there is also a controversy over chemistry and that we should teach alchemy in public schools. It looks like Governor Perry might have struggled with the “controversial” portions of his chemistry education.
Governor Jindal, on the other hand, is a Brown University educated biology major. His old genetics professor, Arthur Landy, implored him to veto the Louisiana Science Education Act saying, “without evolution, modern biology, including medicine and biotechnology, wouldn’t make sense… I hope [Jindal] doesn’t do anything that would hold back the next generation of Louisiana’s doctors.” I don’t know what Governor Jindal made in Professor Landy’s class, but as a Rhodes Scholar he probably made A’s, proving that at least at one point he learned how vital the theory of evolution is to modern biology.
While it is not surprising that Governor Perry was endorsed by Governor Jindal, Governor Perry will not get the endorsement of the science community. The largest general science organization in the world, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with over 10 million members, is supporting the effort to repeal Jindal’s Louisiana Science Education Act. He is also not going to get the endorsement of any of the forty-four Nobel Laureates who’ve endorsed the effort to repeal Louisiana’s job killing creationism law. Particularly those like Sir Harry Kroto who described Louisiana as a “laughingstock” or Roger Kornberg who said, “Shame on the legislature that enacted [the Louisiana Science Education Act], and especially on the governor who signed it into law”
Teaching our students evolution is vital to supporting our biotechnology industries and our hospitals. Teaching evolution is vital to creating cutting edge science based jobs for Louisiana and Texas kids. Our Governors have a choice. They can pander. They can sign creationism laws like Governor Jindal. They can appoint creationists like Barbara Cargill to Chairmanship of the State Board of Education like Governor Perry did. Or they can do what’s right. They can support a comprehensive state curriculum that not only teaches evolution, but recognizes, like the American Association for the Advancement of Science says, that, “the science of evolution underpins all of modern biology” and makes it the centerpiece of any biology course.