News

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.

 

50 Responses to “Louisiana lunacy: tens of millions to be spent on faith-based education”

  1. Buffy says:

    Is it any wonder the rest of the world laughs at us?

  2. the Woggler says:

    “Good morning, children. Today’s lesson is, God did it. Class dismissed. Forever.”

  3. RedDragon says:

    What’s the difference between evolution and creationism? There is evidence for evolution while all creationism has a book written thousands of years ago by idiots who thought they should put it as true and cause of that believers won’t dare question it.

    Why can’t religious organisations use their own money to fund their bullshit? Oh wait they don’t want to use the trillions they have so instead they use someone else’s in case their brain washed moronic followers noticed that the stuff they believe in is a load of shit.

  4. 5ec4um says:

    This is shocking yet unsurprising, given the past record of Creationist-dominated states. It surely amounts to child abuse.

    No doubt those Creationist parents think it’s a God-sent opportunity to indoctrinate… sorry, to teach their children the ways of The One True God. Hallelujah, Amen!

  5. Brian Jordan says:

    Not much different from Gove’s pandering to the religious. It’s just that creationists here will have to pretend a bit.

  6. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    And when they leave school and try to make their way in the world they’ll find they’re unemployable. Way to go Louisiana, you’ve done your kids proud.

  7. Faithless says:

    Wow,really! I thought America was one of the countries leading the rest of the world.

  8. remigius says:

    The definition of education according to dictionary.com

    the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

    If it’s faith based it isn’t education.

  9. john.c says:

    Its appalling that a state can be allowed to let its children down so badly.These children will be unprepared to face the world, Are the Louisiana education board also going to bring in a new range of exams for these children, so they can put a list of supposed “qualifications” on their cvs?and if so, will the rest of the world be alerted to the uselesness of those qualifications.I forsee Lousiana becoming a codeword for stupid at some point in the future if it isnt already.

  10. David Anderson says:

    The decline and fall of the USA.

  11. barriejohn says:

    I bet that most of them are using this material:

    http://www.aceministries.com/homeschool/

    It is popular amongst Christian academies in this country as well. Even were programme not so ridiculously “Bible based” (see Curriculum*), it would still epitomize the very worst of rote learning, as pupils are in no way encouraged to question anything that they are taught. One has to ask whether one can really refer to it as “education” at all.

    *”Bible Based Infused with Godly Character”!

  12. Angela_K says:

    The religious must ensure they infect their children with same same disease so that they in turn can infect their children – and so it goes. Tell a big enough lie…..

  13. Angela_K says:

    Whoops typo. That should read “the same”

    Bring back the edit!

  14. Stonyground says:

    I thought that using state funds to promote religion was illegal in the US.

    A school with no library takes some believing, our house has a library FFS.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Some interesting experiences here:

    http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?14,7041,page=1

    I may have linked to the site before. One of the worst aspects of ACE is the ease with which students can “cheat” and attain very high grades, knowing full well that they would never, as comments above suggest, pass any “normal” examination in the relevant subjects. On page 8 one of the victims refers to the science curriculum as “a joke”:

    ACE Science? It goes without saying…it is a joke. The facts that I learned in College Geology, Anthropology, and Astronomy immediately led me to dismiss the garbage taught to me in ACE Science. I saw before my very eyes my Anthropology Professor refute every nonsensical argument that ACE uses against Evolution (apparently, the ACE arguments are typical non-sequiturs used by many Evangelicals). My Geology Professor taught me about Plate Tectonics. Creationism is not Science, but ACE teaches that it is.

  16. Broga says:

    China, and points East, must be happy watching the USA dive down the science league.

  17. David Anderson says:

    Broga; Followed shortly by South Korea.

  18. Paul M says:

    @ David Anderson. Although from that story I did chuckle mightily as one S.Korean text book who complied with the demand that they remove the evolution of horse fossils merely replaced it with the evolution of whale fossils. Creationists are just so amazingly unaware of the vast amounts of evidence there is that supports evolution.

  19. Broga says:

    @Paul M: I’m reminded of the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tenessee in 1925 when the star religious witness (Bryant, I think) said that anyone who had read the bible knew more science than all the scientists in the USA. With the help of H.L.Mencken’s scathing and hilarious reports much of the rest of the USA enjoyed the ridicule and the embarassment of Tenessee. Louisiana seem to be a possibility for going the same way.

    Creationists do, of course, have a certainty about their ignorant and educationally destructive beliefs which leads the to a mutinous conviction that the rest of the world must be wrong.

  20. Tim says:

    And you thought that Louisiana was not exactly like the movie wawawawaterrboyyy. Stay away from the bayou.

  21. How can ANYONE claim life began 3.5 billion years ago when nobody was there to see it?

    HA! Explain THAT one away, Darwinistas!

    Gotcha!

  22. labman57 says:

    Many Republicans would love to see the public education system be financially gutted and instead have the private education system be government-subsidized. One reason: they regard any form of public education (k-12 or college) as part of a subversive left-wing plot to corrupt and brainwash our youth.

    Since private schools can select student admittance based on the family’s financial status and academic ability, this would create a further divide between the “haves” and “have nots” in our society. In addition, private schools would not be restricted from proselytizing religious ideology and promoting corporate-funded anti-environmental propaganda in the science classroom.

    Since vouchers only account for a portion of the cost of tuition at a private school, families in the lower third of the economic range would still be excluded from attending, resulting in the public school system being further saturated with the poorest students, the lowest achieving students (including ELD and learning disabled), and those that are least motivated to attain academic success.

  23. Trevor Blake says:

    We are letting parents decide what’s best for their children, not government.

    Excellent! That must mean parents who decide to send their children to a school not overseen by the government won’t be using tax dollars to do so. Parents that decline a free secular education for their children are able to buy them a superstitious education at their own expense. No change there, private schools (for good and for ill) have been an American institution for some time.

    What’s that? Tax dollars are being used for private religious schools. Oh. In that case, may I introduce you to the Trevor Blake Holy School of Gimmie the Money. We guarantee a lovely frame-ready graduation diploma will be mailed to every applicant within four years of paying tuition. Cost is only $10,000. No classes, no tests, no textbooks required. Study (or not) from the comfort of your own home. Enroll now, limited to first ten thousand applicants!

  24. jhuang29 says:

    People in schools like these must be laughed out of any decent college they apply to. I feel sorry for those who plan to major in science in the future, as they’ll be years behind once they hit college.

  25. Matt Westwood says:

    The only thing left to do is to institute a bombing campaign whereby all these buildings are reduced to rubble. Building bombs is simple. The information’s on the Internet. Now, let’s go to it.

  26. Matt Westwood says:

    I forsee Lousiana becoming a codeword for stupid at some point in the future if it isnt already.

    Yep, it is here (UK), but then its getting to the stage where “America” is a codeword for “stupid” here, same as “blonde” and “irish” used to be.

    Hear about the American creationist? He was so stupid even his countrymen noticed.

    I was standing at a bus stop in Boston one time, and I got into conversation with someone. “Where you from?” Britain. England, in fact. Near London. “So how long have you been here, then?” she asked. “About three weeks,” I replied. “Oh my Gaahd!” she replied. “You picked up the language real good!”

    Another time I had a similar conversation. “Yeah, I used to live in London,” said the sea-monster trying to chat me up. “I could see the Eiffel Tower from my bedroom window.”

    I’d go on but I have a comedy sketch to write for next week.

  27. GetMeOuttaHere says:

    Well let me start off by saying I live in Louisiana (not for much longer). I cannot refute that we are synonymous with words like stupid, redneck or just plain dumb. I however, am not. I am appalled at the people we trust to guide us, not rule us, are destroying the minds of our youth with this perversion of reality and education. Our education system is already one of the lowest in the country and so they want to just strip them of any real knowledge and replace with fairy tales and lies. Corrupting the mind of an impressionable and innocent child is downright criminal.

    I am encouraged that there are a number of free thinkers and secularists still left here but if we can’t trust the schools to teach facts instead of lies then why would we want to start a family and stay here.

    Long live truth in science!!

  28. Cris says:

    Is there a petition or something I can sign to stop this insanity? Can we just teach the Science in the Science class room?

    If a specific-faith school wants to teach something; they should ask the ‘church’ of that faith to sponsor it; why are my tax dollars paying for religion that I don’t believe in?

    Can someone please link a petition if you can find one.. or can someone a bit more knowledgeable create one? Thanks..

  29. Reason and Science says:

    @Disco’TuteZombie crawl out from under your rock evidence is all around you. Learn to read maybe too.

  30. William Foster says:

    So ver4y sad to see a Great Nation plunging down the Plughole of Religious idiocy. In any case who would believe in a god who wants us humans to be stupid.
    Besides I thought Catholics did not have to believe literally in the texts of the Septuagint as do American Evangelicals who appear to believe more in Biblical Literalism than the teachings of Jesus.
    How long will it be before we see a jolly good witch trial in the USA?

  31. David says:

    It’s not all bad in Merica (spelling is correct), California universities recently won a court case where they do not have to accept faith based science as an acceptable requirement for admission. Not all of Merica is so insanely lost in the mud.

  32. charlie says:

    I live in Louisiana. For reasons that will remain off line I moved here 12 years ago. This is beyond belief and I thought I had seen some very, very stupid things done here so far. This tops them all. The governor is all for this crap. He quit being Hindu and is a “good” Roman Catholic. Meaning, he is in favor of child rape. Hey, it goes with vein g RCC in my view. If you join that gang, you must accept the consequences. The kids are the ones who will suffer, from the RCC/religion in general, and this “schooling” mess.
    The state education department has no idea how to test any of these so called schools yet. Still they will be allowed to open their doors to new “students” or as I might call them, lab rats.
    Seriously, if you have never lived in this part of the world you might find it beyond belief that some parents actually think this will be good for the kids. Yes, stupid is alive and doing all too well here in Louisiana. This news item makes me very sick. The kids who attend these “faith” schools will have zero future in life. The school system was already way behind and inadequate, this just makes it even worse. America is fast becoming a third world country. I believe that is the goal of the banksters and Wall Street. On the possible “bright” side, when the level of education drops to less than the poorest nation, jobs will start to come back to the USA as the education will be so low and the wage demands even lower that it will be profitable for the multinational corporations to employ those future Americans.
    Just call me disgusted on this crap.
    Thanks for letting an old atheist vent.

  33. Igeaux duBard says:

    As an embarrassed native Louisianian all I can feel is shame.

    For a Governor we have the only Indian that can neither shoot a bow&arrow nor entertain logical thought…
    Makes you think twice about Gandhi and/or Geronimo.

    All joking aside. We talked to so many people who had no concept of the impact this will have on public education. Only the black teachers from the intercity schools fought this stupidity and their fight never went heads-up against the religious implications.

    If we had school age children, living here would not be an option.

    In good old Catholic Spain, where we lived for 25 years, the Catholic schools teach Evolution, the public schools teach English with “native speakers”; even in the backwoods agricultural/fishing villages religious tolerance is the norm, not the exception.

    There was a time when Louisiana south of I10 was a different world. A world where Italians, Germans, Jews, Vietnamese, Cubans, Hispanics, Blacks, Caucasians, etc., etc., lived, worked and prospered side by side.

    Yes there were dividing lines. The lines were based on economics; not race, creed or color. The opportunity to improve your economic status was always available. Good education was available and affordable. The MBA I earned at UNO cost less than we spent during a week at JazzFest.

    Thanks, in no small part to the religious right, this is no longer!

    I started this with “Embarrassed”, may I change that to “Saddened”?

  34. Ex Patriot says:

    I am just glad the south didn’t win the Civil War, this is just to stupid for words. I know it won’t hapen but one can hope I guess, I would like to see all religion go the way of the T-Rex, the raptors and such, at least these animals served a purpose, religion does not serve any purpose what so ever.

  35. barriejohn says:

    Has anyone else come across this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwards_v._Aguillard

    Talk about turning the clock back!

  36. barriejohn says:

    There’s a lot more on this subject if you care to do a bit of detective work!

    http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/louisiana-creationism-41-nobel-laureates-for-repeal/

  37. barriejohn says:

    It seems that if they can’t get Creationism taught in public schools then the only alternative is to get the kids educated privately:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-zimmerman/creationism-in-louisiana-_b_1340656.html

  38. QD says:

    I’m sorry, but it looks like (from a cursory glance) that the only children ending up in these schools will be those whose parents choose to send them there, which would probably mean children who are already being raised in this kind of environment. It seems like the greater issue here is getting children access to private schools of *ALL* kinds even if their parents can’t afford it.

  39. […] part of a report from the Freethinker, by Barry Duke, which demonstrates who these Republicans are, and why we despise […]

  40. Art Hundiak says:

    What is truly sad is that sticking kids in cubicles and letting them watch dvd’s is still better than what the public education system offers.

  41. missa1013 says:

    @Disco Tute’Zombie

    You truly are an idiot.
    There’s something called ev-i-dence.
    Physical evidence. From all over the world.

    Open your eyes.

    And I suppose there are people alive today that were around when “christ” was born? Your own arguement makes you sound like an uneducated loser.

  42. Roedy Green says:

    Consider the depths of superstition we were stuck in circa 1400. There were only a handful of people who dared question the Church authority. Most of those who did, kept quiet.

    Yet somehow the Church’s power wained. Atheists were merely reviled instead of burned. Torching gays diminished. Yet today we are going the other way. What happened to the forces that were squashing superstition?

  43. Matt Westwood says:

    @missa1013 and @Reason and Science:

    I do believe that the excellent and entertaining Disco Tute’Zombie was being ironic. It’s an artform which appears rapidly to becoming untenable.

  44. Mark Richards says:

    “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.”

    Although we at first see this as a move to institutionalize religion and religious schools, I see a silver lining. It is a given that America’s public schools (public has a different meaning here than in the UK) are a failure. There are pockets of goodness, but the statistics are still grim. Private schools, paid for by families on top of their tax burden (which funds the public system), do far better, and this has encouraged “Charter” schools, a public-hybrid providing some measure of political autonomy and permitting innovation beyond the standard fare. Charter schools are, in essence, an attempt of the public system to save itself from itself. These schools seem to have a good record and remain popular, but they are not enough.

    Of private schools I think especially of the Montessori method and the many Montessori schools in the US. Families pay dearly for primary education in order that their children receive the best chance for success, and many attend Montessori schools.

    Injecting some competition into the public system is a good thing. Maybe we have to accept some poison in the medicine. The religious will stalwartly remain so, and will pay one way or the other for their misdirection. The real leaders will be those who have been raised in the fertile soil of reality and who will question and test everything.

  45. Karen Gonzalez says:

    as a parent of kids in public schools, I have to say that I wouldn’t mind having a voucher to choose an alternative private school. I hate to say it but the public schools are indoctrinating our kids in different ways and it’s really sad. That money going to vouchers would just be going to the public schools—-and hey—-they are not all that great—not what we had for sure.

  46. […] we reported here, thousands of children in the southern state will receive publicly-funded vouchers for the next […]

  47. […] Hodges was cock-a-hoop when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal recently unveiled a scheme to spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars to support private schools, many of them… Valarie […]