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BATON ROUGE, La. (RNS) A national organization of scientists has informed Gov. Bobby Jindal that it will not hold its annual convention in Louisiana as long as the recently adopted science curriculum standards remain on the books.
The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology told Jindal that its executive committee chose Salt Lake City for its 2011 convention over New Orleans “in large part” because of the science standards. The letter from society president Richard Satterlie is posted on the group’s Web site under the headline: “No Thanks, New Orleans.”
“That’s too bad,” Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said of the group’s decision. “New Orleans is a first-class city for a convention.” Plotkin said the governor did not respond to Satterlie’s letter.
Jindal signed the law last year, agreeing with its supporters that science teachers need wider latitude to use supplemental materials for lessons on topics such as evolution, global warming and cloning.
State teachers unions have said educators already are free to use materials other than textbooks, though a handful of students testified before lawmakers that teachers are sometimes unsure of how to handle questions that challenge established scientific theories, particularly evolution.
Many science groups, both in Louisiana and nationally, urged the governor to veto the bill. They cast the act as a back-door attempt to allow Judeo-Christian creation theology or “intelligent design” — the concept that biological life forms are the result of an intelligent being — to be taught as part of science class.
The act allows local school boards to approve supplemental materials as part of its curriculum. The state school board retains power under the law to bar specific materials, either on its own or after a public hearing on a citizen complaint about specific texts approved at the local level.
“It is the firm opinion of SICB’s leadership that this law undermines the integrity of science and science education in Louisiana,” Satterlie wrote to Jindal.
By Bill Barrow
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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