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Private school scholarships–gateway to creationism

Last updated on June 13th, 2012 at 03:47 pm

You have to hand it to the antievolution folks. They don’t give up and they try every method possible to get their evolution denialism into the educational system despite every constitutional argument going against them. They tried to use intelligent design to force creationism into public schools, but lost in Federal court, costing the schools district over $1 million in legal fees. The have tried to push creationism in several states, succeeding in Tennessee, failing to do so in others. They keep trying, mostly failing.

Unfortunately, they may have found a loophole to force public money to pay for creationist teaching in schools. According to the New York Times, private school scholarship programs “have been twisted to benefit private schools at the expense of the neediest children.” As some background, eight states allow taxpayers to donate money to non-profit groups that award private school scholarships. And these taxpayers receive tax credits for the contributions, credits that could have gone to support public schools. The New York Times stated that,

…this school year alone, the programs redirected nearly $350 million that would have gone into public budgets to pay for private school scholarships for 129,000 students. While the scholarship programs have helped many children whose parents would have to scrimp or work several jobs to send them to private schools, the money has also been used to attract star football players, expand the payrolls of the nonprofit scholarship groups and spread the theology of creationism.

Some of the schools use textbooks produced by Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book, a Christian publisher in Pensacola, FL.

These textbooks were one of the issues at the center of  Such textbooks were Association of Christian Schools International v. Roman Stearns (ACSI v. Stearns), where the plaintiffs, ACSI complained that the University of California system (UC) discriminated against students from Christian schools because of the perceived lack of quality of biology education. The UC system stated that the biology textbooks were “inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.” UC also described the books as “inappropriate for use as primary texts in college preparatory science courses due to their characterizations of religious doctrine as scientific evidence, scientific inaccuracies, failure to encourage critical thinking, and overall unscientific approach.” The court also ruled that “Plaintiff’s evidence also supports Defendants’ conclusion that these biology texts are inappropriate for use as the primary or sole text. Plaintiffs’ own biology expert, Professor Michael Behe, testified that ‘it is personally abusive and pedagogically damaging to de facto require students to subscribe to an idea. . . . Requiring a student to, effectively, consent to an idea violates his personal integrity. Such a wrenching violation [may cause] a terrible educational outcome.'” Nice to read Behe, one of the evolution denialist cowards who stuck Dover with the $1 million legal bill, get hoisted by his own petard.

The New York Times also stated that,

Most of the private schools are religious. Nearly a quarter of the participating schools in Georgia require families to make a profession of religious faith, according to their Web sites. Many of those schools adhere to a fundamentalist brand of Christianity. A commonly used sixth-grade science text retells the creation story contained in Genesis, omitting any other explanation.

“You have to keep in mind that the curriculum goes beyond the textbook,” the headmaster of a Christian school in Georgia told the Times, adding, “Not only do we teach the students that creation is the way the world was created and that God is in control and he made all things, we also teach them what the false theories of the world are, such as the Big Bang theory and Darwinism. We teach those as fallacies.”

The programs are insulated from provisions requiring church-state separation because the donations are collected and distributed by the nonprofit scholarship groups.

So, taxpayer supported dollars (from tax credits) are used to push the fallacies of creationism. Well, we have to give credit to the anti-constitution antievolution anti-science crowd, they know how to game the system.

via Private school scholarships “a boon to creationism”? | NCSE.

Michael Simpson
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