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Hullabaloo


Monday, March 24, 2014

 
Why are we as taxpayers paying to teach creationism to our kids?

by David Atkins

This is infuriating:

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.

Public debate about science education tends to center on bills like one in Missouri, which would allow public school parents to pull their kids from science class whenever the topic of evolution comes up. But the more striking shift in public policy has flown largely under the radar, as a well-funded political campaign has pushed to open the spigot for tax dollars to flow to private schools. Among them are Bible-based schools that train students to reject and rebut the cornerstones of modern science.

Decades of litigation have established that public schools cannot teach creationism or intelligent design. But private schools receiving public subsidies can — and do. 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.”
Yes, it's an attack on education and the public sector. It's an insult to science. It's an insult to the taxpaying public.

But most of all, it's a form of child abuse. Both the neoliberal left and the entire right side of the political aisle seem either resigned or eager to transition to a world where anyone who doesn't work for Silicon Valley or Wall Street is doomed to a life of penury. If millions of kids are being taught that real science is an evil vanity, the very conservatives who are pushing this sort of instruction are also condemning these kids to a life of poverty.

But maybe that's also the point. A weak labor market and high unemployment rates are bad for business generally, but good for Wall Street.


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