Rice University sophomore Zack Kopplin says he has been called the Antichrist, a godless liberal and, bizarrely, the cause of Hurricane Katrina.
Kopplin, 19, has gained notoriety for championing the fight against his home state of Louisiana’s 2008 law that made it easier for teachers to introduce creationist textbooks into classrooms.
“It’s incredible that a young man is prepared to stand up for the truth,” said Sir Harold Walter Kroto, a British chemist who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry and is a professor at Florida State University. He helped Kopplin connect with the 78 Nobel laureates who backed an unsuccessful attempt to repeal the law in 2011.
At a time when conventional wisdom has it that teenagers are disinterested in public policy, Kopplin is anything but apathetic and seems to relish a fight. The student activist has faced off against Louisiana state lawmakers and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, and has appeared on national news networks leading the charge against the of use religion in public school classrooms.
“Science has nothing to do with religion; they operate on different planes,” contended Kopplin.
Now Kopplin, a history major who is taking a full course load this semester, is preparing to fight state Sen. Dan Patrick’s effort to allow school vouchers in Texas. Patrick, R-Houston, is a strong supporter of school vouchers, which would allow tax money to flow to private and religious schools.
IO9 had a nice feature story on Kopplin and his fight against creationism in Louisiana a little while ago that you ought to read as well. He also has a blog that exhaustively documents creationist voucher schools around the country. This is why public funds should be for public schools and private schools should pay for themselves. He’s got his work cut out for him, but speaking as someone who wasn’t doing anything nearly that productive as a college sophomore, I’m deeply impressed with what he’s done already. Give ’em hell, Zack.