"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Is this the Direction that the Religious Right Wants to Take Our Public Schools?

People on the right might ask why I would use Mother Jones as a source but frankly they are much more honest today then some of  the publications on the right who support or ignore this nonsense.  When you learn that some of the voucher schools In Louisiana are using textbooks from the Bob Jones University publishing company, you know they are going to be out of whack with the mainstream, but reading the 14 Wacky "Facts" that appear in the textbooks leaves a person with little to say.

The Huffington Post had also covered this including a letter from the President of the Interfaith Alliance which I have posted below article on the 14 Wacky "Facts":
In a letter to the governor, C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister and President of the Interfaith Alliance, accused Jindal of initiating a program that “is bad for religious freedom and bad for public education as well as a blatant attack on the religious freedom clauses in the United States Constitution.”  
I thought vouchers were supposed to help children in poor performing schools get a better education not subject them to this nonsense.  What are these children going to do when they get to college and find out what they have been taught is fiction?  This is a far cry from a quality education for all students touted by President George W. Bush who believed in holding administrators and teachers accountable for failing schools.  IMHO there is no way he would condone this garbage.

Trying to make the KKK look good blows my mind away.  What kind of a person would dare teach that to black students or any students?  How about slave masters were nice guys?  In the Air Force the common term is Bravo Sierra which is entirely appropriate here.

People on the right have criticized the National Education Association and rightly so over the years for their union activism.  In this case Louisiana could use some of that activism.  Thought some of the Christian schools here were bad but Jindal takes it to a new low.  Maybe I should be looking at what textbooks they are using in the evangelical schools here before I say Jindal takes it to a new low.

I know the Christian schools here don't have to be accredited as they are private schools and that some parents send their kids there when they don't get good grades in the public schools. Teachers also don't have to be a college graduates to teach in some of the Christian schools in Oklahoma.  Note I am only talking about schools run by Evangelical Churches not the Catholic schools here.

In doing the research on one of the Christian school systems Del City, OK, I discovered they belong to The Foundation for American Christian Education who touts The Bob Jones University Book Publishing Company.  Then we have the John Birchers involved in Christian Education here in Oklahoma in that same Christian school.  Still researching if the local Christian schools have purchased the books from Bob Jones University and will update if we can determine they are using the same books.

We already knew that some of the Baptist Churches here believe the earth is 5,000 years old and refuse to allow their kids to visit one of the best Natural History Museum in the Country -- Ed Noble Museum of Natural History on the University of Oklahoma campus.  They don't believe carbon dating which gives the proof the earth is much older than 5,000 years old.  Do they also teach the following is the question now?
14 Wacky "Facts" Kids Will Learn in Louisiana's Voucher Schools
—By | Tue Aug. 7, 2012 3:00 AM PDT 
Thanks to a new law privatizing public education in Louisiana, Bible-based curriculum can now indoctrinate young, pliant minds with the good news of the Lord—all on the state taxpayers' dime. 
Under Gov. Bobby Jindal's voucher program, considered the most sweeping in the country, Louisiana is poised to spend tens of millions of dollars to help poor and middle-class students from the state's notoriously terrible public schools receive a private education. While the governor's plan sounds great in the glittery parlance of the state's PR machine, the program is rife with accountability problems that actually haven't been solved by the new standards the Louisiana Department of Education adopted two weeks ago. 
For one, of the 119 (mostly Christian) participating schools, Zack Kopplin, a gutsy college sophomore who's taken to Change.org to stonewall the program, has identified at least 19 that teach or champion creationist nonscience and will rake in nearly $4 million in public funding from the initial round of voucher designations. 
Many of these schools, Kopplin notes, rely on Pensacola-based A Beka Book curriculum or Bob Jones University Press textbooks to teach their pupils Bible-based "facts," such as the existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience that researcher Rachel Tabachnick and writer Thomas Vinciguerra have thankfully pored over so the rest of world doesn't have to. 
Here are some of my favorite lessons:
  • 1. Dinosaurs and humans probably hung out: "Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years."Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007 
  • 2. Dragons were totally real: "[Is] it possible that a fire-breathing animal really existed? Today some scientists are saying yes. They have found large chambers in certain dinosaur skulls…The large skull chambers could have contained special chemical-producing glands. When the animal forced the chemicals out of its mouth or nose, these substances may have combined and produced fire and smoke."Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007 
  • 3. "God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ."—America: Land That I Love, Teacher ed., A Beka Book, 1994 
  • 4. Africa needs religion: "Africa is a continent with many needs. It is still in need of the gospel…Only about ten percent of Africans can read and write. In some areas the mission schools have been shut down by Communists who have taken over the government."—Old World History and Geography in Christian Perspective, 3rd ed., A Beka Book, 2004 
  • 5. Slave masters were nice guys: "A few slave holders were undeniably cruel. Examples of slaves beaten to death were not common, neither were they unknown. The majority of slave holders treated their slaves well."United States History for Christian Schools, 2nd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 1991 
  • 6. The KKK was A-OK: "[The Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross. Klan targets were bootleggers, wife-beaters, and immoral movies. In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians."United States History for Christian Schools, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2001 
  • 7. The Great Depression wasn't as bad as the liberals made it sound: "Perhaps the best known work of propaganda to come from the Depression was John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath…Other forms of propaganda included rumors of mortgage foreclosures, mass evictions, and hunger riots and exaggerated statistics representing the number of unemployed and homeless people in America."United States History: Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed., A Beka Book, 1996 
  • 8. SCOTUS enslaved fetuses: "Ignoring 3,500 years of Judeo-Christian civilization, religion, morality, and law, the Burger Court held that an unborn child was not a living person but rather the "property" of the mother (much like slaves were considered property in the 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford)."American Government in Christian Perspective, 2nd ed., A Beka Book, 1997 
  • 9. The Red Scare isn't over yet: "It is no wonder that Satan hates the family and has hurled his venom against it in the form of Communism."— American Government in Christian Perspective, 2nd ed., A Beka Book, 1997 
  • 10. Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson were a couple of hacks: "[Mark] Twain's outlook was both self-centered and ultimately hopeless…Twain's skepticism was clearly not the honest questioning of a seeker of truth but the deliberate defiance of a confessed rebel."Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, Bob Jones University, 2001 
"Several of [Emily Dickinson's] poems show a presumptuous attitude concerning her eternal destiny and a veiled disrespect for authority in general. Throughout her life she viewed salvation as a gamble, not a certainty. Although she did view the Bible as a source of poetic inspiration, she never accepted it as an inerrant guide to life."Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, Bob Jones University, 2001
  • 11. Abstract algebra is too dang complicated: "Unlike the 'modern math' theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, A Beka Book teaches that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute…A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, and workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory."—ABeka.com 
  • 12. Gay people "have no more claims to special rights than child molesters or rapists."Teacher's Resource Guide to Current Events for Christian Schools, 1998-1999, Bob Jones University Press, 1998 
  • 14. Globalization is a precursor to rapture: "But instead of this world unification ushering in an age of prosperity and peace, as most globalists believe it will, it will be a time of unimaginable human suffering as recorded in God's Word. The Anti-christ will tightly regulate who may buy and sell."Economics: Work and Prosperity in Christian Perspective, 2nd ed., A Beka Book, 1999
Whew! Seems extreme. But perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised. Gov. Jindal, you remember, once tried to perform an exorcism on a college gal pal. 
View the pictures that come with the 14 Wacky "Facts" that Louisiana children will be learning in the prive voucher schools at http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/07/photos-evangelical-curricula-louisiana-tax-dollars
Looks like others have picked up on this story and this excerpt here from Huffington Post includes a letter from the President of the Interfaith Alliance to Governor Jindal:

In a letter to the governor, C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister and President of the Interfaith Alliance, accused Jindal of initiating a program that “is bad for religious freedom and bad for public education as well as a blatant attack on the religious freedom clauses in the United States Constitution.”  
Gaddy says Louisiana's sweeping new voucher system, ushered in by Jindal, is problematic because it uses state taxpayer dollars to offer vouchers to more than half of Louisiana’s public school students. These students can then use these vouchers to attend a number of religious learning institutions, some of which have been shown to teach extreme anti-science and anti-history curriculums.
“Let me be clear: I am not appalled that a Christian school is teaching its students that God created the Earth ... Children in my church learn that every Sunday," Gaddy said. “I am appalled that these schools are teaching theology as science, and they’re doing so with government money, my tax dollars." 
"Teaching the theology of Creationism is part of the mission of religious schools, and religious education more broadly – I defend with my life’s work their right to teach future generations about their faith. But they should not receive financial support from our government to do so.” 
The new voucher program has drawn scrutiny around the state from a variety of parties. A revamped accountability program failed to alleviate critics' concerned when the details of the system showed that private and religious schools participating in the voucher program would maintain their state funds even if their students failed basic reading and math tests. Louisiana's teachers' union, the Louisiana School Boards Association, and a number of school districts were among those that joined lawsuits in an effort to block implementation of the program. 
Gaddy has taken Republican leaders to task on issues of religion in the past. Last month he criticized Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for her inquiry into Muslim officials in the U.S. government and their supposed ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. 
Here’s the text of his letter, from the Washington Post:
August 7, 2012
The Honorable Bobby Jindal
Office of the Governor of Louisiana
P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004 
Dear Governor Jindal: 
I write to you as the President of Interfaith Alliance to express my disappointment, concern and indeed, outrage at the school voucher program you have implemented in the state of Louisiana. Not only do I represent this national organization whose members come together from 75 faith traditions and belief systems to protect religious freedom, champion individual rights, and promote policies that protect both religion and democracy, I also serve as Senior Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, and thus, I am one of your constituents. Your school voucher scheme is bad for religious freedom and bad for public education as well as a blatant attack on the religious freedom clauses in the United States Constitution. 
Thankfully, thoughtful educators, concerned citizens, and media representatives in the state are exposing your ruthless attack on public education — the provision that the founders of our nation considered essential to the survival of our democracy. You seem unable to distinguish between religious indoctrination and basic public education. Though Interfaith Alliance is a non-litigious agency, we are encouraging other agencies to file suits challenging your decision to use public tax dollars to build structures for churches across the state and to fund educational curricula that qualify more as a catechism than as a tool for holistic education. Of course, you flaunted your disregard for government-subsidized religion by choosing a Roman Catholic Church as the venue at which to sign your legislation! 
When in 1785 the state of Virginia considered a bill that would fund “Teachers of the Christian Religion,” James Madison penned his famous remonstrance reminding his contemporaries, and indeed, generations to come, that “it is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him.” Put another way, funding, participating in, and sending our children to religious education programs is the right and responsibility of faith communities, clergy, and parents as they see fit — not of our government. Every American also has an equal right to choose not to fund or participate in religious education. 
Your voucher program also will fund private schools and curricula that are inevitably not up to the standards of quality information of public schools, and fund the teaching of theology, which goes against the fundamentals of our religious freedom. I was appalled to learn that private schools—funded with my taxes—will teach our children that evolution does not exist, using the fabled Loch Ness Monster as a “real” example, from textbooks that state: 
  • “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.” 
Let me be clear: I am not appalled that a Christian school is teaching its students that God created the Earth. Children in my church learn that every Sunday. I am appalled that these schools are teaching theology as science; and they’re doing so with government money, my tax dollars. Teaching the theology of Creationism is part of the mission of religious schools, and religious education more broadly—I defend with my life’s work their right to teach future generations about their faith. But they should not receive financial support from our government to do so. 
What often gets lost in the conversation around school vouchers is the negative impact they can have on religious schools. In the short term, having new revenue streams is of course helpful to private schools, but the fact is that with government money comes government regulation, which can open religious schools up to all kinds of threats to their autonomy that it is in religion’s best interest to avoid. 
Furthermore, public education is often called the “great equalizer,” and right now, our nation is at a place in history in which all of us truly need to learn how to get along with each other and work together for the good of our nation despite our differences in religion, ethnicity, race, and income. Besides preparing our children and young people to be proficient in math, science, grammar, thinking, and communication skills, public education has no greater role than enabling us to work and walk together despite obvious diversity. Many of the private schools in Louisiana that you are supporting with millions of dollars of vouchers are honestly saying upfront that their mission is sectarian education that promotes one faith over another and makes no effort to commend the common good. 
Finally, one of the central problems with school voucher programs could not be on clearer display than it is in Louisiana: Vouchers create competition between religious groups for government funds, and put the government in a position to prefer one over another. A case in point is the reason state Rep. Valarie Hodges changed her position on the school voucher program. I wish that I could celebrate this move, and had she decided to no longer support it because she realized how harmful such funding is to our religious freedom, I would have. Instead, she changed her position on vouchers because she found out that not only Christian groups received the funding, but Muslim groups can too. As a former Hindu—a minority religion in this nation—you, as much as anyone in our state, should be fully aware that herein lies one of the many problems with funneling government money to religious groups. By doing so, the government can (or at least can try) to pick and choose between them -- exactly the situation our founders created the First Amendment to avoid. 
In short, the school vouchers system you have allowed to be implemented in our state embodies everything that is wrong with school vouchers as a whole and threatens the integrity of both religion and government. I hope that you will take a step back and see that what you are doing is propelling education in Louisiana back to a level that will decrease even more our abominable ranking when it comes to education in our nation. You are hurting the state, the education of our children, and broadsiding an affront to the values of religious freedom that most of us hold dear. 
I am incapable of and uninterested in judging your motivations for such a destruction of education in our state. But, you are capable of changing your mind and helping the situation rather than hurting it. Governor Jindal, please, for the sake of all that is good about education, religious freedom, and our state, put an end to the school vouchers program in Louisiana. 
C. Welton Gaddy

1 comment:

SJ Reidhead said...

Keep 'em dumb and dumber still, keep the women barefoot and pregnant, and just keep listening to FOX, Rush, Sean, and the like. It's a recipe for an increasingly ignorant conservative electorate who is quite willing to believe anything they're told.

Oh, and don't let people learn how to think for themselves. Damn opposing viewpoints, make sure that people think anything that is contrary to the proper information is evil.

Yikes! I thought the right was the bastion of freedom. Guess it's just not my version of freedom.

The Pink Flamingo