Last month, papers in Louisiana spotted an interesting earmark tacked onto the Senate version of the appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education. Senator David Vitter (R‑LA brothels) had allocated $100,000 for a Dobson-derived group – Lousiana Family Forum. The money was meant to let them “promote better science education.”
Who could oppose better science education? It all depends on what, exactly, you mean by “better” and “science.” LFF has a long history of pushing creationism in public schools, including drafting a controversial policy in the Ouachita school district which is widely regarded as a stalking-horse for the creationist “teach the controversy” strategy.
In addition to that circuitous approach, they attack the teaching of evolution directly in an “addendum” to biology textbooks (PDF link). That addendum parrots standard creationist claims about the irreducibility of the flagellum, and cites Jonathan Woodmorappe (author of Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study) in criticizing the geological column. Their account of the fossil record argues that “the fossilization process requires a violent burial. … When the billions of fossils that are everywhere are considered in this light, the earth’s history had some very violent floods in its past.” Or just one, I suppose. The pamphlet carries on with various oher discredited creationists arguments.
There is no doubt how the LFF would spend $100,000 of taxpayer money. There is also no doubt that those uses would be unconstitutional, not to mention harmful to science education in Louisiana. Fortunately, there is a chance to put that money to a better use. The Senate is debating the appropriations bill this week, and senators will have a chance to pull that earmark. Given that the LFF claims not to have asked for the money, I’m sure they won’t mind, and I imagine students and teachers everywhere could find better uses for $100,000.
To tell your senators what you think of this earmark, call the Capitol Switchboard and ask them to patch you through: 202–224-3121. Senator Specter (R‑PA), Senator Harkin (D‑IA), Senator Byrd (D‑WV) and Senator Cochran (R‑MS) are managing the bill, and are therefore especially important to lobby; they are likely to be most responsive to constituents, so be sure to mention where you live when you call. Debate is scheduled to start tomorrow, and the bill may come to a vote as soon as next week. Now is the time to get involved.