Louisiana lunacy: tens of millions to be spent on faith-based education

SCHOOLS run along faith guidelines have hit the jackpot big time following Louisiana’s decision to siphon tens of millions of tax dollars out public schools and into religious institutions where only creationism will be taught.

In what is described here as “the nation’s boldest experiment in privatizing public education”, the state will pay private industry, businesses owners and church pastors to educate children.

Starting this fall, thousands of poor and middle-class kids will get vouchers covering the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools.

Said Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican who muscled the plan through the legislature this spring over fierce objections from Democrats and teachers unions:

We are changing the way we deliver education. We are letting parents decide what’s best for their children, not government.

Jindal is a devout Catholic, and this is what he believes:

As Christians, we’re secure in the knowledge that in the Book of Life, our God wins. He gets off that cross. He beats Satan. We’re not called to be despondent. We are called to be salt and light and to be planting the seeds of the gospel.

Small religious schools, including some that are just a few years old and others that have struggled to attract tuition-paying students, are cock-a-hoop over the plan. New Living Word in Ruston is especially chuffed over the scheme, and is willing to accept the highest number of voucher students – 314.

New Living Word has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.

The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding.

At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen.

Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginner’s science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution.  Heaven forbid, NO! Said Carrier:

We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children.

Other schools approved for state-funded vouchers use social studies texts warning that liberals threaten global prosperity, Bible-based math books that don’t cover modern concepts such as set theory, and biology texts built around refuting evolution.

The teachers’ union is infuriated by the scheme. It is weighing in with a lawsuit accusing the state of improperly diverting funds from public schools to private programs of questionable value.

Said Steve Monaghan, President of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers:

Because it’s private, it’s considered to be inherently better. From a consumer perspective, it’s buyer beware.

NOTE: Apart from accommodating New Living Word, Ruston, Louisiana, is or was home to an exceptionally good atheist writer, retired English professor Gary Sloan. I am anxious to re-establish contact with Sloan, who once penned several articles for the Freethinker, but alas, has disappeared off my radar. If anyone has any information about Sloan, please let me know.