In an effort to assure that all of their children will be left behind, the Louisiana state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has eliminated language from their new science guidelines which specifically prohibits teaching Creationism or Intelligent Design in science class. On the one hand, you can understand why the specific prohibition seems like overkill. after all, the guidelines already include explicit language saying topics taught must be “scientifically sound and supported by empirical evidence.” Further, astrology, telekinesis, and all manner of other pseudo-sciences were not specifically ruled out.
However, we need to be mindful of Louisiana’s notable role as the state who’s law requiring the teaching of Creationism alongside evolution was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1987. This state has also been a designated battleground for the oxymoronically named Discovery Institute who’s mission is to manufacture evidence and opinion that the bible is a science text. One of the whole reasons the La. science guidelines are being revised is so that teachers have the curricular leeway to “teach the controversy”, which is just Creationist code for introducing the bible as science.
In this light, there is little to no chance that removing the stricture against teaching Creationism and Intelligent Design was done in an effort to produce a clean document without unnecessary redundancy. It was done to leave a loophole. And leave a hole it does. The problem is that those who accept Creationism and/or ID will contend that those ideas are scientifically sound and supported by empirical evidence. Hell, there’s a whole Creationism Museum dedicated to showing all the “evidence” for a 6000 year old universe. Teachers with such beliefs will have no qualms about teaching ID under the new guidelines.
Science is not a democratic discipline. Nature does not care what the majority believe. If the Louisiana board is so convinced that they can alter the laws of the universe by collective will, I suggest they should all walk off the edge of a tall bridge, but first take a vote to decide that they won’t fall. Let’s see how that works out.