Joined: May 2002
On December 12, 2002, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted 7–3 not to require new biology textbooks to include a disclaimer about evolution, overruling a measure approved by the Student and School Standards/Instruction Committee on December 10. The committee approved the measure, which would have required a version of the Alabama disclaimer (see NCSE Reports 1995; 15 : 10–1) to be placed in 9th through 12th grade biology textbooks, during a session described as “sometimes contentious” by the Baton Rouge Advocate (2002 Dec 11). Speaking on behalf of the measure, board member Jim Stafford explained, “I don’t believe I evolved from some primate”; board president Paul Pastorek, however, said, “I am not prepared to go back to the Dark Ages.” John W Oller Jr, a young-earth creationist appearing on behalf of the Louisiana Family Forum, argued that a disclaimer was necessary to counter the inaccuracies of the biology textbooks. Among the opponents of the disclaimer at the December 12 meeting of the BESE was J Michael Malec of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, who reminded the board of the Tangipahoa, Louisiana, Parish Board of Education’s failed attempt to require a spoken evolution disclaimer (see RNCSE 2000; 20 [1–2]: 4–5): “This board should not travel down the road that Louisiana officials have traveled with serious consequences. It should learn from these errors of judgment and reject this disclaimer” (Advocate 2002 Dec 13).