Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program

[This is from Zachary Kopplin’s website. It’s cross-posted here at his suggestion. We indicated where a couple of Zack’s links didn’t work for us, otherwise all the content is his. Any formatting blunders, however, are ours. And here’s a convenient shortcut where you can Sign Zack’s Online Petition.]

Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program Before Governor Romney Takes it Nationwide

Louisiana is preparing to spend over $11 million to send 1,306 students to 19 private schools that teach creationism instead of science as part of Governor Bobby Jindal’s new voucher program. It is time to halt the implementation of this creationist voucher program.

It is increasingly clear that one of Governor Jindal’s primary education goals is the teaching of creationism. He supported, signed, and defended the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), Louisiana’s 2008 stealth creationism law, which allows teachers to sneak creationism into public school science classrooms by using creationist supplemental materials. Despite hearing from 78 Nobel laureate scientists who urged him to repeal the law because teaching creationism is both bad science and unconstitutional, Jindal instead defended the law.

Now Governor Jindal has passed a voucher plan which provides millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools that teach creationism and whose curriculum doesn’t meet the state’s approved science standards. My review of the Governor’s voucher program identifies at least 19 schools who use a creationist curriculum or blatantly promote creationism on their websites. These 19 schools have been awarded 1,306 voucher slots and can receive as much as $11,101,000 in taxpayer money annually.

• The student handbook of the Claiborne Christian School, in West Monroe, LA, says that students are taught to “discern and refute lies commonly found in [secular] textbooks, college classrooms, and in the media.” In the January 2010 school newsletter, the principal promotes young-earth creationist talking points from Answers in Genesis, saying, “Our position at CCS on the age of the Earth and other issues is that any theory that goes against God’s Word is in error.” She also claims that scientists are “sinful men” trying to explain the world “without God” so they don’t have to be “morally accountable to Him.” CCS has 28 voucher slots and can receive up to $238,000 in public money.

• The student handbook of Faith Academy, in Gonzalez, LA, says that in this Household of Faith school, students must “defend creationism through evidence presented by the Bible verses [sic] traditional scientific theory.” FA has 38 voucher slots and can receive up to $323,000 in public money.

• Ascension Christian High School, in Gonzales, also a Household of Faith school is Faith Academy’s high school campus. It has 80 voucher slots and can receive up to $680,000 in public money.

• Northeast Baptist School, in West Monroe, uses ABeka and Bob Jones University science textbooks. Researcher and writer Rachel Tabachnick, who examined these textbooks, reports that it is “clear that no instruction is included in the text that would conflict with young earth creationism.” Using such books endangers the educational prospects of students in Christian schools. In 2010, the University of California won a federal lawsuit, ASCI [Association of Christian Schools International] v. Stearns, in which the judge ruled in favor of UC’s right to refuse to recognize high school credits for science classes taken in Christian schools that used such books. UC contended that such instruction is “inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.” NBS has 40 voucher slots and can receive up to $340,000 in public money.

• Northlake Christian Elementary School, in Covington, LA, teaches science using both ASCI’s “Purposeful Design Series” and ABeka materials. One Purposeful Design science notebook [bad link] requires students to “discuss your thoughts about how the complexity of a cell shows that it must be purposefully designed.” NCES, which specifies that “all curricular content is filtered through and presented within a Christian worldview,” has 20 voucher slots and can receive up to $170,000 in public money.

• Northlake Christian High School in Covington uses a secular science textbook but also “integrate[s]” material from “biblical-young-earth, Christian/Creationists,” according to Northlake’s high school biology teacher. He uses sources from Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, and the Institute for Creation Research. This teacher also quotes a creationist book that says, “No coherent, cohesive theology has yet been offered that would allow Christians to embrace evolution with integrity.” Disturbingly, NCHS’s student handbook includes a discrimination policy against prospective students and staff who do not meet “Biblical standards.” NCHS has 30 voucher slots and can receive up to $255,000 in public money.

• New Living Word School, operated by New Living Word Ministries in Ruston, LA, teaches its students with “an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such [as] chemistry”. The school probably uses ABeka materials. According to the website, the church created a program for suspended and expelled Lincoln Parish public school students using “the A-Beka Christian Academy Homeschooling Program.” On top of all of this, the NLW School doesn’t even have the facilities to accommodate voucher students. Nonetheless, it has 315 voucher slots and can receive up to $2,677,500 in public money.

• Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, LA, uses the infamous ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) curriculum. Curriculum publisher ACE Ministries is guided by “God’s Mandate for Christian Education” in which evolutionary theory is described as “extremely damaging to children individually and to society as a whole” because it “denies the principle of the individual’s accountability” to God. ECA has 135 voucher slots and can receive up to $1,147,500 in public money.

• Gethsemane Christian Academy, in Lafayette, LA, doesn’t appear to have a website, but the National Center for Education Statistics notes that it uses the ACE Curriculum [bad link]. GCA has 100 voucher slots and can receive up to $850,000 in public money.

• The Upperroom Bible Church Academy, in New Orleans, says their “curriculum is dependent upon a biblical philosophy” and according to the National Center for Education Statistics they use the ACE curriculum [bad link]. They also claim to blatantly attempt to convert their students, saying “we endeavor to win all unsaved students to Jesus Christ.” On top of this, the large numbers of bad reviews from parents seem to suggest the school cares about money much more than the students. The Upperroom Bible Church Academy has 167 voucher slots and can receive up to $1,419,500 in public money annually.

• Jehovah-Jireh Christian Academy, in Baton Rouge uses both the ASCI Purposeful Design and ABeka curricula in science classes. JJA has 30 voucher slots and can receive up to $255,000 in public money.

• New Orleans Adventist Academy teaches a creationist curriculum, according to the New Orleans newspaper, Gambit. A science curriculum guide from the Southwest Region Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, to which NOAA belongs, shows that Adventist schools teach children that “God, in six literal days, made the heavens and the earth.” The guide contains references both to young-earth and intelligent design creationist sources. NOAA has 100 voucher slots and can receive up to $850,000 in public money.

• Greater Mt. Olive Christian Academy, in Baton Rouge, uses the ABeka curriculum. GMOCA has 50 voucher slots and can receive up to $425,000 in public money.

• Faith Christian Academy, in Marrero, LA, uses the ABeka textbooks. FCA has 38 voucher slots and can receive up to $323,000 in public money.

• Victory Christian Academy, in Metairie, LA, uses ABeka and Bob Jones curricula. Its philosophy of science education is “to develop students in principles of science. . . teaching them to observe relationships and laws as established by God’s creative hand” and that “any teaching of man that is contrary to the clear understanding of scripture is in error.” VCA has 8 voucher slots and can receive up to $68,000 in public money.

• Lafayette Christian Academy, in Lafayette, LA, uses Bob Jones and ABeka. Its “primary objective” is to educate students “without compromising the Word of God.” LCA has 4 voucher slots and can receive up to $34,000 in public money.

• Cenla Christian Academy, in Pineville, LA, uses the ABeka and Bob Jones curricula. CCA has 72 voucher slots and can receive up to $612,000 in public money.

Family Worship Christian Academy, in Opelousas, LA, offers “a stimulating learning environment for our students utilizing A Beka curriculum.” FWCA has 66 voucher slots and can receive up to $561,000 in public money.

• Trinity Christian Academy, in Zachary, LA, explained via e-mail that it uses ABeka to teach high school science. TCA has been given 35 voucher slots and can receive up to $297,500 in public money.

The schools listed here may be just the tip of the iceberg. The true number of creationist voucher schools approved to receive unconstitutionally misappropriated taxpayer dollars under Governor Jindal’s voucher program could be significantly higher. My analysis above lists only those schools that explicitly acknowledge teaching creationism or creationist curriculum. Many more schools listed as approved by Governor’s voucher program are probably also planning to use creationist textbooks, since many of these are self-identified Christian academies that appear very similar in philosophy to the ones I’ve listed above.

The fact that these schools are teaching creationism isn’t the only problem. BeauVer Christian School in DeRidder can’t even meet the fire code and has been accused of financial improprieties, lawsuits have been filed to stop the implementation of the program, and the creators of the state program have already displayed major ethical lapses in trying to cover up their failure to adequately review schools applying for vouchers.

Governor Jindal claims that he created the voucher program because private schools would offer a better education for Louisiana students. The truth is that schools that teach creationism will give our students a worse education. Schools that teach creationism and do not meet Louisiana’s state science standards will not give our students a better education and have no business receiving public funds. Since the justification for this program has fallen flat, Governor Jindal and the Department of Education should not implement it. Every voucher school that taxpayers support with public dollars should be required to release its teaching materials for inspection by the public, just as all public schools are required to do.

Governor Jindal must do the right thing for Louisiana students and halt his voucher program’s implementation before any funds are allocated to schools that teach creationism instead of evidence based science. Governor Jindal has been named Governor Romney’s education surrogate. That Governor Jindal could be nominated for Vice President by Governor Romney or be his Secretary of Education means that signing this Change.Org petition to halt the unconstitutional and creationist Louisiana voucher program is even more urgent.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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40 responses to “Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program

  1. Good for Zach.

  2. This information should be cross-posted at Pharyngula and PT

  3. sparc says: “This information should be cross-posted at Pharyngula and PT”

    I guess it depends on who Zack contacted. It currently appears at OpEdNews and also Bayoubuzz. There may be others as the day goes on.

  4. Why are all the comments showing up in bold font?

  5. I filed an official complaint with the AMerican Civil Liberties Union just now on this one. You can go to the ACLU site and file a complaint against this voucher program.

  6. Hopefully there are others. I don’t have much push with Pharyngula, but I’m hoping it’s going up on Dawkins and should be up on friendly atheist, maitri erwin’s blog and mike’s high school paper soon. It’s up on my site, cenlamar, daily kingfish, opednews, dailykos, bayou buzz, and humid beings. It also may end up on the gambit and the washington post is covering it so far.

    That sums up where to find it. Also, I just got an email this morning where another school told me their curriculum. My blog is updated now to 20 schools.

  7. @Zack
    You can reach PZ Myers here: http://www.morris.umn.edu/academics/biology/faculty/

    Also there are others on Freethought Blogs, such as Ed Brayton that you can contact.

    Keep up the good work; we appreciate it!!
    One of the few atheists here in Louisiana.

  8. Posted a link to the petition on JT Eberhard’s blog. I also left a comment on Zack’s blog with the information so he can E-mail it directly to JT.

  9. The examples from quick read look to be exactly the “kind” of Biblical YEC*that the DI keeps saying that it does not want taught as science. So if they defend this, or “look the other way” (as they did with Freshwater, it’s more evidence of their breathtaking hypocrisy.

    More importantly, the quick read suggests that critical analysis – the real “kind” or the phony “kind” “designed” specifically to promote unreasonable doubt – of creationism is not allowed in these schools. Will the DI object to that, or show their blatant double standard?

    Yes, they’ll whine that no one can force any parent to send their students to any of those schools, but this is the same taxpayer handout that these so-called “conservatives” object to in most other matters.

    *I’m sure that there are OEC examples, but most “Darwinists” disproportionately like to cite YEC for whatever reason. :-)

  10. @Zach: I just bounced a Tweet off of @PZMeyers. Maybe he will pick it up.

  11. Sounds good. I had emailed them and also posted a link to Ed Brayton’s facebook. Freethought blogs doesn’t ever pick up what I do though so I don’t know if they will this time.

  12. I just sent messages to Greg Laden, Bora Zivkovic, Ed Yong, and Carl Zimmer. We’ll see what happens.

  13. NeonNoodle

    Whether or not he’ll stupidly pick the insane Jindal for a running mate remains to be seen. But Romney is not, in fact, anti-evolution. It cost him in the bloody and protracted Republican primary, when he substantially lost the rube vote to Santorum.

  14. NeonNoodle says: “Whether or not he’ll stupidly pick the insane Jindal for a running mate remains to be seen.”

    I’d be very surprised if he did. If Romney’s concerned about Tea Party approval, he can also get that by picking someone like Rubio, and that would assure him of winning Florida — the 4th biggest state. Louisiana isn’t that big a prize. Rubio also would give him some Hispanic support, but Jindal’s ancestry isn’t a political factor.

  15. Jindal has a biology degree, from Brown no less, so he must have heard about Ken Miller by now. Which means that Jindal is 100% in on the scam, and almost certainly peddling what he does not personally believe. I hope by now that enough scientists have warned Romney that if he picks Jindal for a running mate that he will not only lose their vote, but that he will be reminded of it constantly should he win.

  16. I just signed the petition.

    Just because I am getting so bleeping tired of a certain segment of America’s population of conservatives using taxpayer money to push creationism as if it were science and not a religious doctrine.

  17. NeonNoodle

    The smart money is on Rubio for veep. Christie is too confrontational and too, let’s not mince words here, fat. Condi is certainly an attractive candidate but, rightly or wrongly, carries the stink of the Bush administration on her. Pawlenty and Ryan are potentially viable but, in terms of ethnic background plus home state pull, not as attractive as Rubio. I don’t believe Romney is dumb enough to commit political suicide by picking Jindal, but we shall see…

  18. I hope that Zack’s petition helps to get this killed. I’d like to also recommend that those of you who signed the petition also write an actual letter on paper. The governor (or more likely his staff) can look at an electronic petition and think, “Bah! It was created by a computer program!” But a bunch of letters, all written or printed on different types of paper, with different signatures at the bottom, with different writing styles? That’s more difficult to ignore.
    The snail mail address is:
    PO Box 94004
    Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004
    I recommend addressing it to “The Honorable Robert Jindal, Governor”. Yeah. I know. That may be hard to swallow, but do it anyway.

  19. UPDATE: Here’s the text of the letter I’m sending. My words aren’t pretty, but I hope it gets the point across:

    Governor,

    I recently learned of your state’s plan to provide taxpayer funding for private schools in the form of “vouchers”. I’m concerned that such a plan runs afoul of both proper education and constitutionality. Several of the schools who plan to use the vouchers openly espouse teaching “creationism” (or its latter day name, “intelligent design”) as opposed to science. As an engineer, this greatly concerns me due to the fact that the students who are provided such teaching will be at an extreme disadvantage when they finish their studies and have to find employment. It also means that I will be losing potential colleagues in the future. As Louisiana’s students become tomorrows full-fledged citizens, I will not be able to hire them as my job requires people with current (and hopefully more advanced) knowledge of science. Creationism is the antithesis of this. While I’m not from Louisiana, Louisiana is part of my country. This would be bad for Louisiana, which means in turn it will be bad for our country.
    Finally, while I cannot find the exact words of your oath of office, I feel confident that it stated somewhere “defend the Constitution”. Since teaching creationism has been determined to be unconstitutional, support of such a plan would be to go against your oath of office.
    Please do the right thing and end this “voucher” plan.

  20. Gary says:

    But a bunch of letters, all written or printed on different types of paper, with different signatures at the bottom, with different writing styles? That’s more difficult to ignore.

    Barbara Forrest started a letter-writing campaign in 2008 to get Jindal to veto the Louisiana Science Education Act. It had no effect on him.

  21. @SC: Understood. I didn’t say it would guarantee it, but it seems to me that hardcopy paper is harder to ignore than a screenful of names. And it definitely wouldn’t hurt.

  22. I hope for Romney’s sake he doesn’t pick Jindal, but Jindal is an attractive candidate sadly, and he has a decent shot, especially after all the attention Romney has given him in recent weeks. Jindal has spent absurd amounts of time out of state campaigning for Romney–like 20-30% of the time now.

  23. I just mailed Jindal some Tundra Taters.

  24. Don’t know if it will help from a NY resident, but I signed.

  25. Every signature helps.

  26. I checked on the Discoveroid’s site for any references to Zach, and found none. There should have been something. They pushed hard for the creationist legislation in Louisiana.

  27. Ian says: “I checked on the Discoveroid’s site for any references to Zach, and found none.”

    It would be interesting to see a list of people they choose to ignore.

  28. Well well well. Whining to the ACLU won’t stop this. Turns out its legal to turn children into dogmatic imbeciles who believe in plesiosaur fairy tales. Who knew? The Atchafalaya Basin is
    rocking and rolling tonight..

  29. retiredsciguy

    We have the same problem here in Indiana, where the voucher program has been in effect for a year now. It is being challenged in the Indiana Supreme court, but there’s no news yet.

    The state lawmakers who passed it, along with Indiana Superintendent of Public InstructionTony Bennett, contend it is legal “because the state gives the money to the parents, not to the schools. Where the parents take the vouchers is their choice.” I asked Bennett if the parents actually received cash that they could spend as they wished. He said no, they get a voucher, which they then turn over to the school to pay tuition. When I pressed him on the question of what the school then does with it, he admitted that the school turns it in to the state in exchange for money from the state treasury.

    Since he was the guest speaker at our local Kiwanis meeting, and since most of my fellow local Kiwanians where very much on his side on this issue, and since I plan to continue to reside in this community, I didn’t press any further on how this could possibly be considered constitutional. It was a done deal.

    The more I think about it, the more I’m coming to the opinion that much of the harsh criticism of public education has as its agenda the establishment of vouchers for private schools, where creationism can be taught without restriction.

  30. @Gary: It’s a good letter, and you are right; an old fashioned letter does make more of an impression.

  31. Unfortunately petitions won’t stop a politician like Jindal. He’s already proven he’s prepared to ignore the facts, why would a petition change his mind? We’ve seen this in Texas.
    The best place to hit them is in the pocketbook, educate voters , alienate their funders , vote them out. Write the news editors, get on TV., I hope Jindal is picked as Romney’s running mate. They’ll both look good with their black eyes.!

  32. I was hoping RSG would give us an update on how things were progressing in Hoosierland. If the state government sees it as “Well, we just give the money to the private citizens and they spend it where they will”. that’s a bogus argument. The precedent is food stamps. You can’t use food stamps to buy cigarettes. I would think the same logic applies here. (I know, I know. I’m using logic. Bad idea when we’re talking about creationism.) If it turns out that the state has accredited the school, to include the teaching of creationism, then we have a different (and more vexing) problem to deal with.
    Also, I’m going to have to agree with @will. Since (as SC pointed out) a letter writing campaign didn’t keep him from signing the LSEA, I very much doubt that either a petition or another letter writing campaign will do any good here. The best bet is to get rid of the idiot, and any of his other idiots who also think trashing the Constitution is just another day in the office.

  33. Sending politicians letters can’t hurt, but if they are convinced that they need the fundamentalist vote, they have no need to read them. They know that the worst that can happen is that they will lose the votes of ~99% of scientists, a small price to pay. But if they can be reassured that nearly all fundamentalists will vote for them regardless of their position on evolution education, some will realize that it’s simply not worth bearing false witness if it doesn’t guarantee many votes, and risks a small loss. I realize that few politicians will be persuaded of that in the beginning (Jindal almost certainly won’t), but some will, and gradually, as the results come in, others will have little choice but to follow. As what happened with civil rights, eventually they’ll all act like they supported good science education all along.

    Concurrent with this is a more important goal of getting nonscientist voters – mostly religious but not fundamentalist – to see what a scam this is. The current majority reaction of “what’s the harm, let them believe” – which I personally held briefly in the ‘90s – is 100% unacceptable, and given time and effort, 100% reducible to a minority opinion. The bottom line is this: All anti-evolution activism boils down to the outrageous claim that 99+% of scientists have been conducting a “conspiracy” (to replace God with Hitler, presumably) for 150 years. My “wild guess” is that very few people will buy that lie, if they ever give it more than 5 minutes’ thought.

  34. Curmudgeon: “It would be interesting to see a list of people [Discoveroids] choose to ignore.”

    Start with John Freshwater, and let the fun begin.

  35. retiredsciguy

    @Gary:“I was hoping RSG would give us an update on how things were progressing in Hoosierland.

    Not much new to report. Back in March the state supreme court agreed to take the case directly on appeal, skipping the appeals court process. They realized they were eventually going to have to hear the case regardless of which way the appeals court ruled. Last year, Marion Superior Court Judge Michael D. Keele ruled that the law was constitutional, even though the state constitution says that “no money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.” Following the lead of the Republican legislators and Gov. Mitch Daniels, He reasoned that it’s OK for state money to be given to religious institutions as long as parents, not the state, decide which institutions get the money. Go figure.

    The case is titled “Meredith v. Daniels”.

    A cursory search turned up nothing more current. Nothing has been in the local media about it lately.

    The voucher law was in effect for this past school year. According to inschoolmatters.wordpress.com, of the 250 private schools that received vouchers, “all but a half dozen or so are religious schools. Most are Catholic schools. Many are evangelical Christian schools, some of which teach a mix of fundamentalism, far-right politics and anti-government extremism. At least one is a Muslim school.”

    At least as bad as Louisiana, probably worse.

  36. Herman Cummings

    The “Genesis expert” has given Louisiana over to a reprobate mentality. Back in 2008-2009, I emailed every high school and local school board, the legislature, the Governor & Lt Governor, about 55 churches, various colleges, the newspapers and TV stations, and the state school board.

    I wrote them about dropping the falsehoods/foolishness of creationism, and teaching the “Observations of Moses”, which is the correct opposing view to evolution. None of them responded. They were not interested in teaching the truth. So just like Kansas and Alabama, they have been put at the bottom of the barrel. Tennessee appears to be next to join them.

    Herman Cummings

  37. And the Creotrolls are already out in force at the Times-Picayune. Alas, no time for fun today.

  38. techreseller

    Guys guys, Someone has to sweep the streets, flip the hamburgers, guard the prisons, pick up the garbage and mop the floors. These schools are creating the exact type of person necessary for this sort of work. Automaton who follows orders easily and exactly.