Tag Archives: history lessons

It Isn’t Only Science That’s Getting Distorted

The other day, I shared a study that found over 300 publicly-funded religious schools teaching creationism while denigrating and misrepresenting science.

Today, let me share what Salon reporter–and former history teacher– Katie Halper found when she looked to see what those same schools were teaching as history. (These “lessons” are from A Beka Book, used in an estimated 9,000 religious schools, but other materials widely-used by religious schools are consistent.)

  • The Great Depression was “an imaginary crisis” invented to “move the country toward socialism.” The Grapes of Wrath was propaganda.
  • Hitler was a socialist who combined Marxist thought with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
  • When the death penalty was suspended in 1972, crime began to increase; when the Court handed down Roe v. Wade the following year, it led to “an increase in white-collar crime [and] the legalization of gambling.” Worse still, in the wake of that decision, “many psychologists began advocating the teachings of Sigmund Freud.”
  • Free speech is dangerous and encourages ungodly behaviors. “Pornographic films and books have been legalized under the guise of ‘freedom of speech.'”

There’s much, much more, but you get the drift.

Not long ago, federal courts struck down the voucher program in Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana, after schools participating in that program were found to be teaching similar materials. As I wrote at that time,

A report from Louisiana Progress, a good-government business group, is instructive. The group petitioned the Board of Education to set at least minimal standards for schools receiving vouchers–evidence that the schools have adequate physical facilities, that they not dramatically increase either tuition or enrollment in order to benefit financially from the program, etc. Calling the program “poorly thought out and poorly implemented,” the report noted that schools selected to participate were not chosen on the basis of educational quality. Most were religious, and many of those quite fundamentalist: the New Living Word School had been approved to increase its enrollment from 122 to 315 students, despite lacking physical facilities for that number; increased its tuition from 200/month to 8500/year, and has a basketball team but no library. Students “spend most of the day watching TV. ..Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses bible verses with subjects like chemistry or composition.”

Another voucher school, the Upperroom Bible Church Academy, operates in “a bunker-like building with no windows or playground.”

There are 120 private schools authorized to receive vouchers in Louisiana. A significant percentage are “Bible-based” institutions with what have been characterized as “extreme anti-science and anti-history curriculums” that champion creationism. (One is run by a former state legislator who refers to himself as a “prophet or apostle.” Wouldn’t that encourage you to enroll your child??) A number use textbooks produced by Bob Jones University.

Mother Jones has a list of 14 favorite lessons being taught by Louisiana’s voucher schools. Among them: dinosaurs and people hung out together; gays have no more claims to ‘special rights’ than child molesters and rapists.

Whatever the theory behind vouchers, the reality is that all too often they are diverting money from substandard public schools (making it much more difficult for those schools to improve), and redirecting that money to fundamentalist religious schools that make a mockery of the term “education.”

And this makes sense how? And to whom?