Jindal and the Dumbing of Louisiana: Tax Payer-funded christofascist “madrasas”Posted: June 19, 2012
Last month, Hurricane Bobby Jindal and the right wing Republicans that have overtaken the state since Katrina have taken a drastic step to subsidize religious indoctrination in Louisiana. This can only spell disaster for a state that needs jobs in a modern world. Louisiana has become a stew pot for extreme right wing social engineering. Here’s some of the “Shocking Christian school textbooks” that will be paid for with your tax payer dollars and mine care of the Governor who kidnapped and assaulted a young woman in the name of exorcism.
This 2012-2013 school year, thanks to a bill pushed through by governor Bobby Jindal, thousands of students in Louisiana will receive state voucher money, transferred from public school funding, to attend private religious schools, some of which teach from a Christian curriculum that suggests the Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution and states that the alleged creature, which has never been demonstrated to even exist, has been tracked by submarine and is probably a plesiosaur. The curriculum also claims that a Japanese fishing boat caught a dinosaur. On the list of schools approved to receive funding through the new voucher funding, that critics warn could eventually cut public school funding in half, are schools that teach from the Christian fundamentalist A Beka Book, Bob Jones University Press, and Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.
The Accelerated Christian Education curriculum is nothing more than hogwash and religious indoctrination.
So, what’s in the ACE curriculum? An August 29, 2009 story in the Times Educational Supplement, a British publication for teachers, provides an excerpt from an Accelerated Christian Education science textbook:
“Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the `Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland?
`Nessie,’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur. Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur? As astonishing as it may seem, many evolutionists theorize that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all.”
Extract from Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc. (1995)
Is the text still in use today? The answer is yes, according to U.K. critic Jonny Scaramanga, who was raised on the ACE curriculum and now runs a blog titled “Leaving Fundamentalism: Examining Christian Fundamentalism in The UK”. In a popular post titled Top 5 Lies Taught By Accelerated Christian Education, Scaramanga states, “I called ACE [Accelerated Christian Education] on May 3rd, 2012, and was told that all of these PACEs are still in print and the content has not changed. These lies are still being taught in over fifty British schools today.” In the post, Scaramanga provides more detail on what ACE’s curriculum Science PACE 1099 has to say about the Loch Ness Monster: Some scientists speculate that Noah took small or baby dinosaurs on the Ark…. are dinosaurs still alive today? With some recent photographs and testimonies of those who claimed to have seen one, scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence… Among the other claims taught in ACE science curriculum, according to Scaramanga, are the following (the last three ACE curriculum claims are detailed in a subsequent post by Scaramanga titled, 5 Even Worse Lies from Accelerated Christian Education), – Science Proves Homosexuality is a Learned Behavior – The Second Law of Thermodynamics Disproves Evolution – No Transitional Fossils Exist – Humans and Dinosaurs Co-Existed – Evolution Has Been Disproved – A Japanese Whaling Boat Found a Dinosaur – Solar Fusion is a Myth.
This is nothing more than a political calculation for the ever ambitious Bobby Jindal. However, this massive transfer of public wealth to religious fanatics will spell disaster for Louisiana’s public schools and students.
While other states often try to hedge about the impact voucher programs have on public education funding, Louisiana has made no attempt to hide that its new program directly defunds public education. Because Louisiana is a solidly conservative – and solidly anti-union – state, pro-voucher advocates faced fairly little political pressure to support public schools, and had no real political incentive for hiding the fact that these vouchers steal money from public education.
Just how much money are we talking about? According to David Kirshner, professor of educational theory, policy and practice at Louisiana State University, “Students who leave can carry…the totality of their public school funding to their new private or charter school.” This means that for each voucher student who leaves the public system, the state will now subtract the cost of tuition or up to that student’s per capita expenditures – an average of about $8,800 – from public education funding. If all 380,000 students that will be eligible for vouchers in 2013 get them, that could mean a net loss of $3.3 billion to Louisiana’s public schools for that academic year. Every mini-voucher’s cost – $1,300 or less – will also be deducted from public education spending.
No other state in the nation has implemented a voucher program that penalizes public education to this degree and with this much transparency.
There’s no doubt about the eventual effect withdrawing so much funding will have on public education in Louisiana. It’s a mechanism, Kirshner tells AlterNet, to bring about the “inevitable degradation of the public system.” Of course, the likelihood that all eligible students will flee their public schools in one fell swoop is small — but the program nevertheless clears a pathway for steadily defunding public schools in just a few years time. As funding dries up, these schools will have fewer and fewer resources – and fewer staff – to help students succeed on standardized tests. This, in turn, will lead to more schools being designated as “low-scoring” over time — and the number of students eligible for vouchers will inevitably grow, as well.
The scary thing is that this directly subsidizes religious institutions. Most of these are not your benign Jesuit institutes of higher ed, either.
Though specific data is not available on the number of private religious academies in Louisiana, it seems reasonable to assume that the state’s percentage of religious schools meets or surpasses the national average, given Lousiana’s status as a Bible belt state. And if this year’s small-scale program is any indication of where Louisiana’s vouchers will most likely be used, religion is a key component: based on their names alone, it is clear that most of the participating schools are Christian academies. (Though there are a number of excellent secular private schools in the state, few if any slots at these schools are awarded to voucher students in practice.)
Even leaving First Amendment concerns aside, the dominance of Christian school options raises many questions about how this shift to religious academies will affect the quality of Louisiana education. “Smaller, less prestigious” and often struggling religious schools are more likely to have spots open for voucher students, Stephanie Simon reports for Reuters. She writes,
The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.
The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding.
At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution.
If this is what vouchers have in store for the education of Louisiana’s primary and secondary students, it’s not unreasonable to fear that the quality of education in the state will deteriorate quickly.
Worse yet, there are no real checks in the system to hold sub-par private schools – including religious institutions – accountable for the quality of education students receive. As LSU education professor David Kirshner tells AlterNet, Louisiana’s voucher program “does not require that private and charter schools that accept public funds be subject to the same scrutiny of standardized testing that was used to indict the public schools in the first place. So what we have in Louisiana can in no way can be counted as a push from worse to better. Rather it is only a push from public to private.”
And in the low-quality schools Stephanie Simon describes, the program may very well be a push from better to worse.
“For many years, the four racial groups were separated politically and socially by law. This policy of racial separation is called ‘apartheid’. South Africa’s apartheid policy encouraged whites, Blacks, Coloureds, and Asians to develop their own independent ways of life. Separate living area and schools made it possible for each group to maintain and pass on their culture and heritage to their children.
“For many years, Blacks were not allowed to vote in national elections and had no voice in the national government. Reporters and broadcasters from all parts of the world stirred up feelings against the white South African government. These factors contributed to unrest within South Africa. In addition, there are at least ten separate, distinct tribal groups in the nation. Because these tribes are not a cohesive group but are often in conflict with each other, much of the violence in South Africa has been between different groups of Blacks. In spite of apartheid and the unrest in recent years, South Africa is the most developed country in Africa, and Blacks in South Africa earn more money and have higher standards of living than Blacks in other African countries.”
“Men on the left cannot walk in wisdom.”
“True science will never contradict the Bible because God created both the universe and Scripture…If a scientific theory contradicts the Bible, then the theory is wrong and must be discarded.
Remember, our tax payer dollars are being used to indoctrinate children with this nonsense. Bobby Jindal is basically funding the US version of “madrasas” that are producing extremists that will work to bring down our democracy and secular laws.