19-year old takes on war on science

The silliness of some conservatives seems to have no limits. We have people building museums showing cavemen living with dinosaurs, and of course we have Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, who is obsessed with finding ways to let teachers inject creationism into the classroom. Now he has to go up against a pissed off 19-year-old kid.

For Zack Kopplin, it all started back in 2008 with the passing of the Louisiana Science Education Act. The bill made it considerably easier for teachers to introduce creationist textbooks into the classroom. Outraged, he wrote a research paper about it for a high school English class. Nearly five years later, the 19-year-old Kopplin has become one of the fiercest — and most feared — advocates for education reform in Louisiana. We recently spoke to him to learn more about how he’s making a difference.

Kopplin, who is studying history at Rice University, had good reason to be upset after the passing of the LSEA — an insidious piece of legislation that allows teachers to bring in their own supplemental materials when discussing politically controversial topics like evolution or climate change. Soon after the act was passed, some of his teachers began to not just supplement existing texts, but to rid the classroom of established science books altogether. It was during the process to adopt a new life science textbook in 2010 that creationists barraged Louisiana’s State Board of Education with complaints about the evidence-based science texts. Suddenly, it appeared that they were going to be successful in throwing out science textbooks.

Jindal got some press after the 2012 election for saying that the GOP should stop being the “stupid party,” but he’ll have his own stupidity to address if he decides to run for president.

Jindal’s disaster

Bobby Jindal had a tough job following Barack Obama’s speech last night, but his performance is getting panned by liberals and conservatives. His reference to Katrina was particularly problematic, as he cited Bush’s incompetence as a reason why we shouldn’t rely on the government now.

Paul Krugman was particularly offended by Jindal’s criticism of volcano monitoring as wasteful spending.

So what did Bobby Jindal choose to ridicule in this response to Obama last night? Volcano monitoring, of course.

And leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens.

Meanwhile, conservative columnist David Brooks was very disappointed in the speech.

The Republicans are killing themselves with this mindless opposition. Just repeating tired slogans from the Reagan era will not cut it this time, particularly after the George W. Bush disaster.

The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.

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