Zack Challenges Santorum
In case you missed it, Zack is back.
Last year, as a senior in high school, Zack Kopplin made national headlines when he spearheaded an effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act (the LSEA), a law that serves absolutely no purpose other than allowing religious fundamentalist public school “science” teachers the opportunity to inject their own religiously-based creationist beliefs into the biology classroom. The LSEA, which is likely unconstitutional, undermines the integrity and credibility of our public education system; it empowers teachers to preach religion under the guise of science, and it prevents students the opportunity of having a robust and fact-based education in biological science and evolution.
And the law was brought to you and paid for by a small cabal of powerful legislators and politically-connected lobbyists, namely, the Discovery Institute and the Louisiana Family Forum. I’ll guarantee this: While the vast and overwhelming majority of Louisianans, in some way, contribute directly or indirectly in funding education, 99.99999% have never contributed to the Discovery Institute or the Louisiana Family Forum.
Last year, Zack, with the help and support of Senator Karen Carter Peterson, launched a full-throated effort at repealing this pernicious legislation– the first and only of its kind in the country, and this year, they’re trying again. (And by all indications, they plan on trying until it is finally repealed, no matter how long it may take).
And thank God because the LSEA is seriously embarrassing; it is the most obvious reminder that, despite his rhetorical flourishes, Bobby Jindal doesn’t care at all about increasing educational standards. Jindal, a Biology major at Brown, was rebuffed by his own college biology professor for signing the LSEA into law. Indeed, while Jindal may suggest this is about academic freedom, Zack has lined up endorsements from 75 Nobel laureates– over 40% of all Nobel winners in the sciences– in support of the repeal of the LSEA. Jindal and his cohorts don’t have the support of a single Nobel Prize winner, in any field. None. And that’s important to remember, as Jindal criss-crosses the State and pretends as if he understands the magic formula that will solve education. (More on that in a later post).
Last week, Zack cornered Presidential candidate and former US Senator Rick Santorum at an event at Louisiana College.
A few key takeaways:
* Santorum authored federal legislation that was to be included in No Child Left Behind, which would have allowed the injection of creationist education in public school classrooms. His blithering comments about this being a “states rights” issue are belied by his own position.
* He’ll never be President.
* He forgot to consult with the playbook. Zack clearly asks him about his efforts to promote CREATIONIST education (which is true), but Santorum and friends usually refute the notion that they’re promoting “creationism,” as it’s already been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Aguillard v. Edwards (an ironically-named case originating out of Louisiana). Santorum should have pushed back against the creationist label; he should have said this was not about religion, but instead, about intelligent design. That’s what the talking point is, at least. But the truth is, as Santorum unwittingly reveals, there’s no secret that creationism and intelligent design are interchangeable; it’s an artificial distinction.
* Except that creationism education in public science classrooms is unconstitutional. “Intelligent design” may be code language, but no one is supposed to admit this, even tacitly, even in passing, even when it is the result of a failure of omission. Regardless, as Santorum’s off-the-cuff remarks prove: There’s no real distinction; intelligent design is creationism rebranded. And creationism in public school science classes has already been declared unconstitutional.
So, to my buddy Zack (who is now a freshman at my alma mater, Rice): Keep fighting the good fight. Soon enough, people will wake up. And soon enough, Mitt Romney will have to answer the same questions.
Here’s the whole event: