Home > Uncategorized > This Just In: Deregulated Schools Can Teach Anything They Want… and it’s Mostly Bible-Based

This Just In: Deregulated Schools Can Teach Anything They Want… and it’s Mostly Bible-Based

December 15, 2017

Earlier this month Huffpost writer Rebecca Klein posted an article titled “Voucher Schools Championed by Betsy DeVos Can Teach Anything They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies”. The subtitle elaborates: “These schools teach creationism, racism and sexism. They’re also taking your tax dollars.” And Ms. Klein’s article provides the gory details of one particular school that used curriculum materials that denied evolution, scapegoated environmentalists, and was based almost completely on the world view of fundamentalist Christians. Ms. Klein then described the findings of aa analysis of schools benefitting from “choice: that Huffpost completed and determined that 75% of these “choice” schools funded by taxpayers were religiously affiliated… and the majority of those were “non-Catholic Christian” denominations. When Huffpost reseachers dug deeper they found that roughly 1/3 of them were using the kind of fundamentalist material described at the outset of the article… but even more disturbing, they couldn’t find out anything about the materials used in 2,000 of the schools they identified! Why? Deregulation and laws that offer no accountability whatsoever for schools that parents can choose from.

With taxpayers footing the bill for religious private schools, the separation of church and state, a cornerstone of American democracy, becomes a murky line. So how did it come to be that taxpayers are footing the bill for an evangelical education?

Most states have little oversight on the curriculum used in schools that participate in private school choice programs. Some states have zero regulations on the topic. Others require private schools to follow the state’s broad-based content standards but specify little else. (Rhode Island’s stipulations appear the most strict: Curricula in private schools must be submitted and largely equivalent to what is taught in public schools.)

While Ms. Klein focussed on the widespread use of three particular curricula— Abeka, Bob Jones and Accelerated Christian Education— I read the article through the lens of New Hampshire’s SB 193, which is designed to establish the kinds of Education Savings Accounts that other states have used to divert taxpayer money to sectarian schools. New Hampshire’s new law would make it more like the states described in the Huffpost where State Department oversight of the programs is minimal and accountability is virtually non-existent. Indeed, if SB 193 passes in New Hampshire parents who home school their children will be eligible to receive taxpayers funding, funding that will invariably be redirected from funds intended for local schools.

One of the reasons I am an undying advocate for public education is my belief that it unifies our nation. The entire purpose of public schooling is to develop well-informed self-actualized citizens who can make decisions that will lead to a highly functioning democracy. The funds raised through taxation are intended to support the common good of our society and not the narrow perspectives of fundamentalist ideologies of any stripe.

We have elected a President whose world view reflects the worst elements of our culture. He is greedy, power hungry, ignorant, bigoted, sexist, and crude. It is noteworthy that he did not attend public schools and neither did his appointee to the Secretary of Education. Had he or Ms. DeVos attended public schools as they were growing up they may have developed empathy for classmates whose parents struggled every day to make ends meet and a better understanding of the wide-ranging views their classmates held. They might also appreciate that democracy depends on finding common ground with those whose views are different.


%d bloggers like this: