Stop Funding Creationist School Vouchers (Guest Voice)


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:

Author: Guest Voice

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11 Comments

  1. Why is it that in the 21st Century, people are still fighting against teaching their children long-established science?

    I doubt that a school teaching that the sun revolved around the earth, or that thunder and lightning were caused by angry deities wouldn’t be handed tax payer dollars in order to continue instructing students in such things.

  2. State money of federal money? At the national level, it would be hard to find support for teaching that evolution is not a valid theory, but I bet in good old Southern states, you have a lot of support for it. If ignorant people want to spend their tax money on teaching ignorance…so be it.

    Whether or not it is a form of child abuse is a different question.

    I am assuming that these private schools are testing well nationally. Many of them do…much like home schooled kids.

    I know Kansas gives Pell grants to college kids that attend private christian colleges that teach creationism.

  3. As long as the students are not going into scientific fields, will they be less competent if they don’t accept the evidence of how species develop and adapt? It would be interesting to know how many of these students go from Christian schools to Christian colleges and end up in politics or the military.

    I don’t doubt views on climate change and legal rights for gays may affect a political career, but evolution? Not sure how that affects anyone other than the individual. If we want to limit tax dollars to those schools where we agree with their total cirruculum, the possibilities for defunding education are endless.

    God moves in mysterious ways and if one of them is evolution, I, personally, have no objection.

  4. Is there no end to the dumbing down? Citizen tax dollars should NOT fund the teaching of either pseudo science or superstition.

  5. Part of the freedom in education is the freedom to teach things that some people don’t like. I find the reaction a bit funny, because it’s exactly the same as when evolution started to be taught in colleges.

  6. “As long as the students are not going into scientific fields, will they be less competent if they don’t accept the evidence of how species develop and adapt? ”

    They’ll be less able to tell truth from fiction. Understanding how to find reality in the daily tidal wave of opinion and nonsense is an important skill, and to try to find truth is a moral imperative. Believing whether the Earth is round or flat doesn’t affect policy decisions in local politics, but would you vote for someone who believed it was flat?

    Zach, keep fighting the good fight. You’re doing a great thing and you have the support of all honest, thinking people.

  7. Ah, when you find reality in the daily tidal wave of opinion and nonsense, be sure to let us know. Some people find trying to overturn Roe v Wade a moral imperative. Some people find trying see that no voter is kept from voting is a moral imperative. Trying to find truth is trickier and if it’s a moral imperative we are in some trouble (as anyone who has had a class in situation ethics can attest).

    I wouldn’t vote for someone who believed the earth was flat, but I wouldn’t vote for anyone who denied evolutionary principles, either. Nor would I expect anyone in the field of science to deny them. But should anyone other than a scientist, who must rely on the evidence to proceed with sciencentific discoveries, believe in either evolution or creationism? Not necessarily, because what they believe doesn’t affect scientific findings (though it may affect laws, if they are a politician, which is another matter as I suggested earlier).

    Any child who wishes to go into the science field and has been taught creationism and evolution, or just creationism, will soon run into difficulties when trying to succeed in his/her field. As they will with politics. Finance, plumbing, construction, not so much.

  8. A school can teach both evolution and creationism, as long as they are appropriately taught. Creationism as a faith based belief and evolution as a respected scientific theory.

    One should taught in social science, the other in natural science.

  9. How can this even be happening? Finding this level of ignorance in our population in the 21st century is like finding…well, people walking next to dinosaurs.
    I believe the whole thing may be illegal anyway since a Judeo- christian religious view of creation discriminates against 1. other beliefs 2. other religions. In order to get state funding wouldn’t they have to teach ALL religious theories of how the world was made, and how people got here? I believe the Hopi say we come from star people, and some say we are descended from spiders or worms …. There are even those who say we evolved slowly over aeons of time from single celled creatures…………

  10. @sheknows
    It’s called vouchers. Parents send their kids to the school of their choice, which would include religious schools. Secular schools, both public and private, still exist, and all schools would still be held to state guidelines. If the Hopi want a school, they make one, and people can choose to go to it or not.

    Personally, if they did a better job of teaching, I would be happy to send my kid to one.

  11. Prof Elwood: do you have a good source for this? it is an interesting assertion

    ” it’s (sic) exactly the same as when evolution started to be taught in colleges.”

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