Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program

Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program Before Governor Romney Takes it Nationwide

Update: Superintendent White removed Eternity Christian Academy from this list, but the other 20 remain.  Eternity was not removed for curriculum issues, so it may be returned to the program while keeping a creationist curriculum.  Holy Savior Menard Central High School in Alexandria has joined the list.

According to the Associated Press, there are 750 creationist voucher slots which are worth more than 4 million dollars approved for this year.

These numbers will grow as the voucher program continues, and will easily be able to reach the numbers I’ve posted below.  The numbers below represent the number of voucher slots originally requested by the creationist schools, and the maximum amount of voucher money that the state allows. 

Also note, the numbers below would be the final numbers if not for the public outcry over how backwards this voucher program is.  We need to keep pushing on the Governor and the Superintendent to remove the remainder of the creationist schools.

Louisiana is preparing to spend over $11 million to send 1,365 students to 20 private schools that teach creationism instead of science as part of Governor Bobby Jindal’s new voucher program.  It is time to halt the implementation of this creationist voucher program.

It is increasingly clear that one of Governor Jindal’s primary education goals is the teaching of creationism.  He supported, signed, and defended the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), Louisiana’s 2008 stealth creationism law, which allows teachers to sneak creationism into public school science classrooms by using creationist supplemental materials.  Despite hearing from 78 Nobel laureate scientists who urged him to repeal the law because teaching creationism is both bad science and unconstitutional, Jindal instead defended the law.

Now Governor Jindal has passed a voucher plan which provides millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools that teach creationism and whose curriculum doesn’t meet the state’s approved science standards.

My review of the Governor’s voucher program identifies at least 20 schools who use a creationist curriculum or blatantly promote creationism on their websites.  These 20 schools have been awarded 1,365 voucher slots and can receive as much as $11,602,500 in taxpayer money annually.

  • The handbook of the Claiborne Christian School, in West Monroe, LA, says that students are taught to “discern and refute lies commonly found in [secular] textbooks, college classrooms, and in the media.” In the January 2010 school newsletter, the principal promotes young-earth creationist talking points from Answers in Genesis, saying, “Our position at CCS on the age of the Earth and other issues is that any theory that goes against God’s Word is in error.” She also claims that scientists are “sinful men” trying to explain the world “without God” so they don’t have to be “morally accountable to Him.” CCS has 28 voucher slots and can receive up to $238,000 in public money.
  • The student handbook of Faith Academy, in Gonzalez, LA, says that as a Household of Faith school, students must “defend creationism through evidence presented by the Bible verses [sic] traditional scientific theory.” FA has 38 voucher slots and can receive up to $323,000 in public money.
  • Ascension Christian High School, in Gonzales, also a Household of Faith school is Faith Academy’s high school campus. It has 80 voucher slots and can receive up to $680,000 in public money.
  • Northeast Baptist School, in West Monroe, uses ABeka and Bob Jones University science textbooks.  Researcher and writer Rachel Tabachnick, who examined these textbooks, reports that it is “clear that no instruction is included in the text that would conflict with young earth creationism.”  Using such books endangers the educational prospects of students in Christian schools. In 2010, the University of California won a federal lawsuit, ASCI [Association of Christian Schools International] v. Stearns, in which the judge ruled in favor of UC’s right to refuse to recognize high school credits for science classes taken in Christian schools that used such books. UC contended that such instruction is “inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.” NBS has 40 voucher slots and can receive up to $340,000 in public money.
  • Northlake Christian Elementary School, in Covington, LA, teaches science using both ASCI’s “Purposeful Design Series” and ABeka materials.  One Purposeful Design science notebook requires students to “discuss your thoughts about how the complexity of a cell shows that it must be purposefully designed.” NCES, which specifies that “all curricular content is filtered through and presented within a Christian worldview,” has 20 voucher slots and can receive up to $170,000 in public money.
  • Northlake Christian High School in Covington uses a secular science textbook but also “integrate[s]” material from “biblical-young-earth, Christian/Creationists,” according to Northlake’s high school biology teacher. He uses sources from Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, and the Institute for Creation Research. This teacher also quotes a creationist book that says, “No coherent, cohesive theology has yet been offered that would allow Christians to embrace evolution with integrity.”  Disturbingly, NCHS’s student handbook includes a discrimination policy against prospective students and staff who do not meet “Biblical standards.” NCHS has 30 voucher slots and can receive up to $255,000 in public money.
  • New Orleans Adventist Academy teaches a creationist curriculum, according to the New Orleans newspaper, Gambit. A science curriculum guide from the Southwest Region Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, to which NOAA belongs, shows that Adventist schools teach children that “God, in six literal days, made the heavens and the earth.” The guide contains references both to young-earth and intelligent design creationist sources. NOAA has 100 voucher slots and can receive up to $850,000 in public money.
  • Greater Mt. Olive Christian Academy, in Baton Rouge, uses the ABeka curriculum.  GMOCA has 50 voucher slots and can receive up to $425,000 in public money.
  • Faith Christian Academy, in Marrero, LA, uses the ABeka textbooks. FCA has 38 voucher slots and can receive up to $323,000 in public money.
  • Victory Christian Academy, in Metairie, LA, uses ABeka and Bob Jones curricula. Its philosophy of science education is “to develop students in principles of science. . . teaching them to observe relationships and laws as established by God’s creative hand” and that “any teaching of man that is contrary to the clear understanding of scripture is in error.”  VCA has 8 voucher slots and can receive up to $68,000 in public money.
  • Lafayette Christian Academy, in Lafayette, LA, uses Bob Jones and ABeka.  Its “primary objective” is to educate students “without compromising the Word of God.” LCA has 4 voucher slots and can receive up to $34,000 in public money.
  • Cenla Christian Academy, in Pineville, LA, uses the ABeka and Bob Jones curricula. CCA has 72 voucher slots and can receive up to $612,000 in public money.
  • Family Worship Christian Academy, in Opelousas, LA, offers “a stimulating learning environment for our students utilizing A Beka curriculum.” FWCA has 66 voucher slots and can receive up to $561,000 in public money.
  • Trinity Christian Academy, in Zachary, LA, explained via e-mail that it uses ABeka to teach high school science.  TCA has been given 35 voucher slots and can receive up to $297,500 in public money.
  • Old Bethel Christian Academy, in Clarks, uses ABeka they explained in an email.  They have been given 59 voucher slots and can receive up to $501,500 in public money.

The schools listed here may be just the tip of the iceberg.  The true number of creationist voucher schools approved to receive unconstitutionally misappropriated taxpayer dollars under Governor Jindal’s voucher program could be significantly higher.  My analysis above lists only those schools that explicitly acknowledge teaching creationism or creationist curriculum.  Many more schools listed as approved by Governor’s voucher program are probably also planning to use creationist textbooks, since many of these are self-identified Christian academies that appear very similar in philosophy to the ones I’ve listed above.

The fact that these schools are teaching creationism isn’t the only problem. BeauVer Christian School in DeRidder can’t even meet the fire code and has been accused of financial improprieties, lawsuits have been filed to stop the implementation of the program, and the creators of the state program have already displayed major ethical lapses in trying to cover up their failure to adequately review schools applying for vouchers.

Governor Jindal claims that he created the voucher program because private schools would offer a better education for Louisiana students.  The truth is that schools that teach creationism will give our students a worse education.  Schools that teach creationism and do not meet Louisiana’s state science standards will not give our students a better education and have no business receiving public funds.

Since the justification for this program has fallen flat, Governor Jindal and the Department of Education should not implement it.

Every voucher school that taxpayers support with public dollars should be required to release its teaching materials for inspection by the public, just as all public schools are required to do.

Governor Jindal must do the right thing for Louisiana students and halt his voucher program’s implementation before any funds are allocated to schools that teach creationism instead of evidence based science.

Governor Jindal has been named Governor Romney’s education surrogate.  That Governor Jindal could be nominated for Vice President by Governor Romney or be his Secretary of Education means that signing this Change.Org petition to halt the unconstitutional and creationist Louisiana voucher program is even more urgent.

 

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56 Responses to Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program

  1. Pingback: Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program | The Sensuous Curmudgeon

  2. Rando says:

    If you want to get it onto Freethought blogs you could tell PZ Myers directly. You should also E-mail JT Eberhard, JT is the one that is mainly concerned with education. His E-mail address is: wwjtd21[at]gmail[dot]com

  3. Pingback: Bobby Jindal has a Creationist Voucher Program! – Greg Laden's Blog

  4. Pingback: In Louisiana, the Governor’s Voucher Program Could Send $11,000,000 to Creationism-Endorsing Schools

  5. Pingback: Zack Kopplin versus Bobby Jindal and creationism in Louisiana | Black Skeptics

  6. I’ve linked to this post on the Black Skeptics blog at Freethoughtblogs. Hope it helps.

  7. Gary says:

    I’m copying my comment from the Sensuous Curmudgeon’s blog here verbatim:
    I hope that Zack’s petition helps to get this killed. I’d like to also recommend that those of you who signed the petition also write an actual letter on paper. The governor (or more likely his staff) can look at an electronic petition and think, “Bah! It was created by a computer program!” But a bunch of letters, all written or printed on different types of paper, with different signatures at the bottom, with different writing styles? That’s more difficult to ignore.
    The snail mail address is:
    PO Box 94004
    Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004
    I recommend addressing it to “The Honorable Robert Jindal, Governor”. Yeah. I know. That may be hard to swallow, but do it anyway.

  8. Pingback: Bobby Jindal has a Creationist Voucher Program! [Greg Laden's Blog] |

  9. Sheri Glowinski says:

    Allowing voucher money to go to religous “schools” goes against the separation of church and state. Further, the lack of accountability and lack of study of real science undermines education in Louisiana. LA needs help fixing what is wrong in our public schools, not further undermining of them. LA students and teachers deserve better than that! Help make this state better, not worse!

  10. Pingback: Bobby Jindal has a Creationist Voucher Program! [Greg Laden's Blog] - Dennis Flint High CountryDennis Flint

  11. James says:

    One can only hope that breeding this depth of stupidity will eventually select for not understanding the effort to cultivate stupidity in the first place, and possibly change course.

  12. michael hunter says:

    Great job Zack. Keep up the fight!
    :)

  13. David Gray says:

    It is truly stunning that the voucher program is going to schools that blatantly ignore science over religion. This case is going to open up my eyes to other voucher programs. I have always favored them as a general rule, but I will not favor tax payer dollars going to schools that ignore science, often in a very specific manner.

  14. TRISH SEWELL says:

    MONEY SHOULDN’T BE USED TO MAKE CHILDREN EASIER TO CONTROL IN THE FUTURE. TEACHING LIES MAKES IT EASIER TO TRICK PEOPLE INTO BELIEVING ANYTHING POLITICIANS WANT THEM TO. NO CITIZEN SHOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR RELIGIOUS EDUCATION.

  15. John Piertet says:

    The one sure way to end this law is to announce a program to set up atheist private schools that will teach that religion is false and that there is no god … and apply for the vouchers. The same reaction as when the muslim school applied will occur and it will be obvious that the law is unconstitutional and the ACLU will make a lot of money and Jindal will be shown to be a fool (to rational people, at least), even if it won’t particularily hurt his political career.

    • Zanne says:

      I completely agree! The reaction of Rep. Valarie Hodges when a Muslim school applied was both hilarious and depressing. How can someone so uneducated and bigoted be allowed to make decisions about education? She didn’t even seem to know the difference between “ensure” and “insure”. The only schools that should qualify for vouchers should be ones that meet all of the same standards and requirements of public schools– including the ever important separation of church and state.

      Can you imagine how big of a brick these fundies would drop if someone tried to open up a school that taught Wicca as the main religion?

      It’s a shame that very public displays of bigotry can’t get someone in her position impeached. At first I was shocked by her ignorance, then I remembered what I kept hearing from teachers in a technical college (which was supposed to be secular)– they didn’t know jack about Islam or other belief systems or other cultures. Furthermore, some of them did not even comprehend the subjects they were teaching and had to rely on the answers in the teacher’s versions of the books.

      This voucher system will only ensure that Louisiana students may become even more ignorant and intolerant.

  16. Human Ape says:

    Louisiana is preparing to spend over $11 million to send 1,365 students to 20 private schools that teach creationism instead of science as part of Governor Bobby Jindal’s new voucher program.

    This is a serious problem but I bet an even worse problem is the quality of public high school biology teachers. How many of these teachers make evolution part of every lesson which is the only way to correctly teach biology. How many of these teachers illegally teach magical creationism? How many teachers skip the evolution lessons to avoid harassment from Christian thugs? I bet Louisiana students have little chance of learning anything about science no matter what kind of school they go to.

  17. April says:

    Every time this comes up, it makes me a little sick inside. Just like you, I was born and raised here. I was educated in small town public schools. No, the system is not perfect. However, rather than following Mr. (I refuse to allow him the honorific of Governor) Jindal’s modus operendi of privatizing everything in sight, shouldn’t we begin steps to improve the system?

    So far, he has managed to create a program of measured improvement that won’t work, thus scaring them into teaching only in a certain way (i.e., show kids how to pass the useless LEAP test)…And now he’s using public funds to give money to schools that don’t meet the necessary standards for a public school. Congrats, Bobby. You’ve created a state I don’t want to have kids in.

    As for you, Zack, keep at it. If enough people get together, the people in charge can’t ignore them.

  18. Pingback: Creationists in Louisiana Win State Funding « Diane Ravitch's blog

  19. Great work. I absolutely support what you are doing.

    I’ve been working to expose Accelerated Christian Education for some time; I’d be happy to help out your effort. More information about what they teach is on my blog.

    • Zack Kopplin says:

      Yep, I’d read some of that and a lot of the national media uproar over the Loch Ness Monster. You’ve seen ACSI v. Stearns, right?

  20. godzacon says:

    Good ole’ south’n boys; rednecks in the bible belt; republican voters; the former slave states… what else can you expect of these evolutionary dead ends?

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  30. Diane from Canada says:

    It all started from the fan page of Anne Rice on Facebook tonight.

    As I read the the first article, I was flabbergasted and dumbfounded when reading each of those statements/excerpts. (see below)

    http://m.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/07/photos-evangelical-curricula-louisiana-tax-dollars

    Then, when reading this article below, the direct insults and insinuations about various religions, their countries, the state of their economy and the reasons why they were poor and/or @ war,…. is beyond belief. Downright crazy.

    http://www.rethinkingschools.org/special_reports/voucher_report/v_into162.shtml

    Now, I may not live in Louisiana, but based on the last link about the failing schools under the many parishes, it is evident that there IS a problem with Louisiana’s school system.

    Injecting funds back into the school system under this program is a pathetic reason and attempt to continuously brainwash and keep children ignorant about the truth, the reality and the world as a whole. Invest money into creating intelligent minds, not brainwashing them. Invest money into teaching them how to write, not just knowing the bible. Invest money into extra-curricular activities instead of giving $3000 / child to private money hungry schools that teach backwards ideologies about what “GOD” is and “SHOULD BE” according to these people. EXPAND their horizons, their views, encourage them to explore, discover and RESEARCH instead of all this hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo. There is a SERIOUS problem with education in the United States and the bible is not the solution. GOD is good, so they say, but MAN is wicked and MAN is still trying to keep the MASSES in fear of GOD and ignorant of the TRUE POWER that each human being possesses. ELEVATE YOUR MINDS, THUS YOU WILL ELEVATE YOUR SOULS, not the other way around.

    http://www.louisianaschools.net/topics/aus_test.html

    I’m grateful that I was born in Canada and that I had a mother who always taught me to expand my mind, to ask questions, to read, to explore, to learn, to grow. As an adult, there are TWO things that I am weary and fearful of : GOVERNMENT and RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS. Neither of them should be controlling my life nor my mind. AMEN

  31. Pingback: 14 Wacky “Facts” Kids Will Learn in Louisiana’s Voucher Schools (Mother Jones) | Uma (in)certa antropologia

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  37. Happy Sunshine says:

    For many reasons, Gov. Jindal’s school voucher program is alarming! Even people who do not have school aged children, and people who don’t work for school boards should be concerned dangerous potential of placing education into hands of some church leaders who are not what they profess to be –as well as likelihood of furthering political corruption and social oppression (via religion). Too many preachers & pastors (not all of them!) have more regard for politics and cronies, than ministry for God. Some are dangerously deluded, and should simply resign and cease abusing 501 (c) statuses. Sadly, the title of “pastor” doesn’t mean the same as bygone times when religious values truly mattered to all of the people who wore those religious titles. *See more about preachers, politics, and nonprofits @ http://www.lawgrace.org/2012/08/11/nonprofit-charities-and-a-news-story-and-religion/

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  45. Casey McMann says:

    While I fully agree that any school in the voucher program should be required to publicly release its curriculum and should be barred from teaching anything close to creationism, I would have to say that that’s not grounds enough to me to try to stop the voucher program. If you agree that the vast majority of private schools in the program are superior to most of their local public alternatives wouldn’t the greater benefit still be to keep the program and work on eliminating the creationist schools from it? It seems to me more students would benefit from having vouchers available than those being harmed by attending creationist schools. I’m all for improving understanding of the nature of science and ousting creationism, but at what cost? Let’s keep in mind that the ultimate goal here is to improve student’s outcomes and chances at landing jobs in science fields. More would benefit from having vouchers available because besides these 20 private schools, there are a whole lot that have strong science programs also. Am I misunderstanding anything?

  46. While I can understand your distaste for conservative Christian textbooks, I have found that many of the books teach many opinions and not always fact. However, when it comes to science, I wonder how much you know about the world of modern science. You state that creationism should not be taught because it might be damaging and is not based on the scientific method, but I challenge you to reconsider this claim. It is just as much based on the scientific method as the theory of evolution.

    The question: How did life begin?
    Hypothesis: One says, “We were created.” One says, “We developed out of nowhere.”

    Each set of scientests have made their own predictions and their own tests and their own analysis. Why say that the evolutionist scientists are right to develop their theory within the scientific method, but creationist scientists have no right to develop theirs within the scientific method and be considered science? What is science but the ideas of man? One has the idea that we evolved; well, one has the idea that we were created. Are either wrong to suppose?

    I admire the passion that you have for your cause. Thank you for your time.

    • Keisan says:

      While you bring up a good point, you are missing key points in your argument. The scientific method is far more than simply coming up with a hypothesis and claiming it to be true. You need evidence to support your claim; you need to have your experiments performed and re-performed in order to ensure accuracy. Creationism only goes through the first step without providing any evidence to support it. It refuses to be challenged and thus cannot accept criticism. As such, Creationism cannot be called true science.

      • You state that Creationism only goes “through the first step without providing any evidence to support it.” Do you have research to back up your statement? I am aware of Creation theory scientists that form predictions, do tests, and develop analysis results.

        Here are a few groups of scientist that commit their lives to the study of Creation as a science:

        The Institute for Creation Research – ICR.org
        The Center for Scientific Creation – creationscience.com
        The Creation Research Society – creationresearch.org

  47. Michael Wolfe says:

    When it comes to science, why is it so important that students be taught man is the product of a multi-billion year accident? It is taken by faith that the earth came to be 4.6-4.7 billion years ago and that life happened by accident, that man sprung from an ancestor that looked for all intents and purposes like a monkey.

    How does refusing to believe that hinder a student from studying mutations in bacteria or memorizing the periodic table?

    How is it that evolutionists, seek to silence all criticism of evolution, and shut out all methods of countering the hypothesis that is called theory?

    If education is about the children and parents are empowered to decide what they want their child to learn, and some manner of school attendance is compulsory, then why shouldn’t the money follow the children to whatever school they wish to attend without strings? Not everyone who pays taxes wishes their tax money to go to support evolutionist teachings, which are seen as the foundational creation accounts to a humanistic or materialistic faith.

    The establishment clause prohibits the creation of a national church. the allocation of tax dollars that are pegged to a child and which flow to the parents’ educational CHOICE is not the establishment of a national church, it is the free exercise of parents choosing to send their child to a school which is most closely aligned with their beliefs and values.

    You need not agree with those beliefs, you need not hold to those values, but don’t you believe in the freedom of educational choice?

    You do bring up one good concern about vouchers, and that is the potential for the government to start controlling the curriculum of private schools. One of the main reasons I hope I can send my future children to a private school is so that they can be educated in a place that reinforces instead of tears down the beliefs and values I hope to instill in them. I’ll make sure they learn about evolution, but they will also be taught the holes in that origins hypothesis. I did great in (public) high school biology without ever once subscribing to the belief that man came from monkeys, or ape-like ancestors, if you prefer.

  48. You’ve been getting a lot of press lately, Zack. Good job! We rational, progressive people in Louisiana are behind you, and are proud of you.

  49. Ryan says:

    Are the parents of these “voucher” students filling out the application and deciding to put their kids in these “creationism” schools out of free will? Are they forced to send their kids to these “creationism” schools? Why would they want to pull their kid out of a perfectly nice public school to send them to an anti-evolution private school? Your argument confuses me because it seems that you know what is better for the kids then their own parents. If that is the case, you should focus your efforts on educating the parents.

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