High fives for Zack. He is facing down trolls, creationists, climate denialists and his own state legislature. I think we should keep an eye on this one.
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.
A pivotal moment
How 19-year-old activist Zack Kopplin is making life hell for Louisiana’s creationists “This was a pivotal moment for me,” Kopplin told io9. “I had always been a shy kid and had never spoken out before — I found myself speaking at a meeting of an advisory committee to the State Board of Education and urging them to adopt good science textbooks — and we won.” The LSEA still stood, but at least the science books could stay.
No one was more surprised of his becoming a science advocate than Kopplin himself. In fact, after writing his English paper in 2008 — when he was just 16-years-old — he assumed that someone else would publicly take on the law. But no one did.
“So perhaps it’s not a gun problem. It is a demographic problem.”
A man who found six children in his driveway in Newtown, Conn., after their teacher had been shot and killed in last month’s school massacre has become the target of conspiracy theorists who believe the shootings were staged.
“I don’t know what to do,” Gene Rosen told Salon.com. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘How much am I being paid?’”
Rosen, a 69-year-old retired psychologist who lives near Sandy Hook Elementary School where the shootings took place, says his inbox is filled with emails like this one:
How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?
“The quantity of the material is overwhelming,” Rosen said, adding that he’s sought the advice of a retired state police officer and plans to alert the FBI.
On the morning of Dec. 14, Rosen had just finished feeding his cats when he saw six small children “sitting in a neat semicircle” at the end of his driveway. According to the Associated Press:
A school bus driver was standing over them, telling them things would be all right. It was about 9:30 a.m., and the children, he discovered, had just run from the school to escape a gunman.
“We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.”
Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman, had shot his way into the school and opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults.
Rosen took the four girls and two boys—students of slain teacher Victoria Soto—into his home, gave them toys and comforted them while he tried to reach their parents. He spent the days following the massacre telling his story to the swarming media that invaded the small Connecticut town in the wake of the shootings.
“I wanted to speak about the bravery of the children,” Rosen told Salon. “I guess I kind of opened myself up to this.”
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