Stop Funding Creationist School Vouchers
by Zack Kopplin
School voucher programs in the United States have long sparked controversy over the question of whether public tax dollars should be used to enable students to attend private and parochial schools.
They should not. School vouchers are corporate welfare for creationist schools. My research in Louisiana discovered that at least twenty schools in Louisiana are receiving millions in public money and teaching creationism.
Texas, the state where I currently live as a student at Rice University, seems to be following Louisiana’s anti-science path, and we may have a creationist school voucher program passed here. Last August, I testified before the Texas Senate Education Committee, and urged them not to create a school voucher program like we have in Louisiana. A major proponent behind the Texas voucher scheme, State Senator Dan Patrick, dismissed my criticisms of creationist vouchers as something only happening in Louisiana.
I realized I had to investigate voucher programs across the country. Working with MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show, I discovered and exposed over 300 schools in nine states and the District of Columbia teaching creationism and receiving public money.
I found schools in Indiana, viewed as the gold standard for school voucher programs, bringing students to the Creation Museum. I found 163 creationist voucher schools in Florida, one of which called evolution “the way of the heathen.” A school in MIlwaukee asserts, “although the world may promote its philosophies of… evolution as the truth, we assert that God’s Word is Truth.”
These schools I discovered are only the tip of the iceberg. I have only exposed schools that have publicly promoted teaching creationism or using creationist curriculums on their websites. Hundreds or even thousands more of these creationist schools could be receiving public money under the radar.
My research in Louisiana and nationally shows how little scrutiny these voucher schools have received and how much more they need. Many of these schools are not qualified to be receiving public money. We must stand up and urge our public officials to end this anti-science policy. We must ensure public money goes to schools that teach our students evolution.
Zack Kopplin is a student at Rice University. He has won the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in Education and the National Center for Science Education’s Friend of Darwin Award. He is leading the repeal of Louisiana’s creationism law and he exposed creationist voucher schools.
You can see his work on the issues at repealcreationism.com and creationistvouchers.com
January 18, 2013 interview on Current: