If you believe God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh, if you believe the earth is less than ten million years old, and if you believe evolution is a lie from the pit of hell, then you’ll be thrilled that U.S. taxpayers are doling out $1 billion a year to fund private Christian grade school educations that teach all those beliefs as “facts.” And you’ll be thrilled to learn that $1 billion is increasing dramatically every year.
Welcome to the neat trick of publicly-funded private school voucher programs.
The Politico article does not mention same-sex marriage, homosexuality, or abortion, but you can assume how religious schools might be teaching those subjects to students — intentionally or not.
Noting that “about 250,000 students take advantage of vouchers and tax-credit scholarships, Politico today released a report that examined the voucher programs in all states that offer them. The result is what anyone who accepts science might expect: religious schools are teaching from the Bible first and from text books, maybe second — and you’re footing the bill for America’s continued decline into the 18th century.
A POLITICO review of hundreds of pages of course outlines, textbooks and school websites found that many of these faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact. Their course materials nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists. They often distort basic facts about the scientific method — teaching, for instance, that theories such as evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven’t been elevated to the status of “scientific law.”
And this approach isn’t confined to high school biology class; it is typically threaded through all grades and all subjects.
One set of books popular in Christian schools calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.” Another derides “modern math theorists” who fail to view mathematics as absolute laws ordained by God. The publisher notes that its textbooks shun “modern” breakthroughs — even those, like set theory, developed back in the 19th century. Math teachers often set aside time each week — even in geometry and algebra — to explore numbers in the Bible. Students learn vocabulary with sentences like, “Many scientists today are Creationists.”
One publicly subsidized school in Pennsylvania put it this way: “Although academic quality is a high priority at West Chester Christian School, our primary goal is to maintain our distinctiveness as a Christian school as expressed in our motto: ‘Education with a Bible Foundation.’” Another touts as a key measure of success that its students are more likely than peers to attend religious services and believe in the Bible “as an infallible guide for personal life and behavior.”
This, of course, is only the beginning.
“In Florida, for instance, public subsidies are set to rise from $286 million this year to about $700 million in 2018 even without further legislative action, as long as demand remains high,” Politico reports.
And, of course, the Koch Brothers’ group, Americans for Prosperity is “a major player” in the school voucher push across the nation, Politico notes.
Some of these publicly-funded Bible schools hide in the shadows, not disclosing their curriculums, while other, and advocates of a publicly-funded Bible-based education think the state should just butt-out.
“Doug Tuthill, who runs one of the largest private school choice programs in the nation, says states have no right to determine what kids should learn, beyond basic math, reading and writing,” the Politico report states. “Other topics, from the age of Earth to the reasons for the Civil War, are just too controversial for a government mandate, he said, even when taxpayer money is at stake.”
“Once a child has strong literacy skills, they can educate themselves,” said Tuthill, who runs Florida’s Step Up for Students program. “We don’t have to rely on schools, necessarily.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has also made a forceful case that when it comes to education, parents — not government bureaucrats — should call the shots. Jindal has accused Obama of violating that principle by first seeking to block and now seeking to monitor a voucher program for Louisiana students with household income of up to $60,000 a year for a family of four.
If this is the path to American exceptionalism, we’re doomed.
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