Friday, September 18, 2009

Due process: notice, and an opportunity to go through the motions

Via LGF -- no, really, they're positively sane these days -- this story about creationist-inspired shenanigans in Louisiana:
The state’s top school board Wednesday approved procedures for residents who object to materials that challenge the teaching of evolution in public school science classes.

The rules, which were praised by evolution critics, stem from a law approved last year by the Legislature.

Backers say the law is needed to give science teachers more freedom to challenge traditional theories, including Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Because that's what teaching grade-school science is about -- "challenging" the best-established theories. Hopefully they'll take on that silly Second Law of Thermodynamics while they're at it.
Critics contend the measure, called the Louisiana Science Education Act, is aimed at injecting religious themes into public schools.

The statute allows science teachers to use supplemental materials, in addition to state-issued textbooks, to teach evolution and other topics.

“What’s left hanging are the procedures when a complaint is raised,” said Scott Norton, assistant state superintendent for student and school performance.

The department recommended that any complaints undergo an initial review by a three-member panel named by the agency, then go to the state board for a final decision.

But Dale Bayard, of Sulphur, chairman of the committee that tackled the issue, changed that and the committee went along.

Under Bayard’s change, two reviewers will be named by the department to review the science materials in question as well as one reviewer each named by the challenger, the school and the publisher.
Sounds like a lot of 4-1 votes on the horizon. The real motive is all too candidly stated by one of the kibbitzers:
Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum Action, praised the rules and said Bayard’s plan was better than the department’s recommendation.

“Arguably this is the closest thing that would mimic due process,” Mills said in a telephone interview after the meeting. “That seems equitable to me.”
Expect to see those words quoted in an appellate brief in a year or two, after "due process" has been "mimiced" ("mimicked"?) sufficiently to allow for federal-court review.

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