First came Louisiana’s Science Education Act, passed in 2008, which encourages teachers to critique science such as evolution and global warming and see creationism and evolution as competing theories. It was the first of its kind to be approved in a state legislature, although other states, notably Tennessee, are following suit.
Now this year, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a new voucher program, which gives thousands of poor and middle-class students the funds to pay for the full cost of tuition at 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools.
Louisiana has embarked on the nation’s biggest experiment in privatizing public education, as the state moves tens of millions in tax dollars out of the public schools to pay private industry, businesses owners and church pastors to educate children.
Every time a student receives a voucher, his local public school will lose a chunk of state funding. This is the nightmare that many of us educators have been afraid of for a long time: getting rid of public education.
But it gets worse: the Science Education Act, as bad as it is, directs teachers to present creationism and evolution as equal options. Instead, some of these state-sponsored private schools will be deliberately spreading ignorance by using curriculum that repudiates modern science.
As a classroom teacher, I find this morally repugnant. Teaching is about empowering students with knowledge, not presenting them with a bunch of lies.
Buzzfeed recently printed some pages from an unnamed fifth grade textbook in an article entitled “Here Is What Louisiana Schoolchildren Learn About Evolution.”
Here’s just a sample:
Evolutionists believe that dinosaurs and man never lived on the earth at the same time. But the Bible says that God created all the land and sea animals during the fifth and sixth days of Creation. And He created man on the sixth day of Creation. So dinosaurs and man would have lived at the same time. God’s word is always accurate. We can trust it to be true even in areas of science.
This might be laughable, except for the fact that it is downright dangerous to present the Bible as fact to fifth graders.
Here’s another example from Discover:
One textbook used by many private schools makes the creationist claim that no transitional fossils showing evolutionary changes have ever been found, which is simply not true. ”This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis,” the book reads. “For the change, to have taken place many transitional forms would have been developed. However, no transitional fossils have been or will ever 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 Craftsman fashioned them all” [poor reasoning and use of commas theirs; emphasis ours].
This excerpt comes from a high-school science book used in the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum, an educational tool in many Louisiana schools.
Another popular textbook publisher in Louisiana is bju press, “Christ-centered resources for education, edification, & evangelism.” The opening of the description for the fifth grade book reads “Science 5 focuses on man’s use of God’s creation and design as well as a study of minerals and rock, fossils, matter and heat..”
Why do people have to hold on to these simplistic ideas that deny reality and make them the laughing stock of the world? Can they really not see the Bible as metaphor?
I have plenty of ideas on this, but can’t do better than Bill Nye in this video: after pointing out that the denial of evolution is pretty much unique to the US, he explains that evolution is the fundamental idea behind all of life science, so it gets really hard to explain the world if you don’t believe in evolution. He finishes with a plea to grown-ups, that if they want to hold this completely inconstant view of the world, at least don’t force this on the kids.
And all this is happening in schools funded by taxpayer money? Outrageous.
What do you think?
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