I would have thought that it was a relief, a minor bit of unconcern, that Mitt Romney nominally supports evolution (he’s one of those waffly theistic evolutionists, so he doesn’t really…but at least he wouldn’t be brazenly contradicting all of the evidence). But there’s a potential problem looming: who will he pick for vice president? Who does he turn to advice on education? Ken Miller discusses the situation, and points out that his key advisor on education reform and potential VP pick is…
Bobby Jindal, creationist governor of Louisiana.
Jindal has an elite résumé. He was a biology major at my school, Brown University, and a Rhodes scholar. He knows the science, or at least he ought to. But in his rise to prominence in Louisiana, he made a bargain with the religious right and compromised science and science education for the children of his state. In fact, Jindal’s actions at one point persuaded leading scientific organizations, including the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, to cross New Orleans off their list of future meeting sites.
What did Jindal do to produce a hornet’s nest of “mad scientists,” as Times-Picayune writer James Gill described them? He signed into law, in Gill’s words, the “Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), which is named for what it is designed to destroy.” The act allows “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials” to be brought into classrooms to support the “open and objective discussion” of certain “scientific theories,” including, of course, evolution. As educators who have heard such coded language before quickly realized, the act was intended to promote creationism as science. In April, Kevin Carman, dean of the College of Science at Louisiana State University, testified before the Louisiana Senate’s Education Committee that two top scientists had rejected offers to come to LSU because of the LSEA, and the school may lose more scientists in the future.
And now Jindal is poised to spend millions of dollars of state money to support the teaching of creationism in private schools.
But don’t panic! Jindal is currently just one possibility for VP, and there are plenty of other Republicans Romney might pick…like Nikki Haley, or Rick Santorum, or Michele Bachmann…
OK, panic. There’s no way we’ll be happy with anyone he chooses.