EclectaBlog has an important report about a Tea Party leader in Michigan who is trying to build a network of Christian charter schools in the state by pretending that they’re not Christian. But he left an internet paper trail behind that shows what he’s really up to.
Back in 2011, a man named Pasquale “Pat” Battaglia posted a blog entry on the website of the Lapeer County Tea Party Patriots titled “The God and Country Education Project”. In it, he introduces something he calls “American Christian Academies” and denounces the “progressive” movement who he says have taken “less than 3 generations to completely obliterate our schools”.
Fast forward two years to 2013. The American Christian Academies website no longer exists but Battaglia is still trying to set up a charter school to fight off evil progressives. He published an eerily similar post on the Brighton Tea Party’s website, this time titling it “K-12 Tuition Free Classical Academy for Brighton”. Keeping the ACA acronym, Battaglia rebranded his Christian Academy to be a “Classical” Academy. In the post, he uses much the same language but has snipped out references to religion.
The descriptions of the projects are almost identical. The first one:
Please allow me to introduce you to American Christian Academies. ACA is a model for a school system that will offer a classical education based on the Judeo-Christian foundations of this America. Our methodology will offer this opportunity to families who currently have no other choices for their children. We will provide an education option nearly tuition free and autonomous from the government and the government run public school systems.
And the second:
Please allow me to introduce you to American Classical Academies, (AmericanClassicalAcademy.com). ACA is a model for a school system that will offer a classical liberal arts education based upon the foundations of this America. Our methodology will offer this opportunity to families who currently have no other choices for their children. We will provide an education option tuition free working toward autonomy from the government and the government run public school systems, (See Hillsdale Barney Charter School Initiative, http://www.hillsdale.edu/).
Sounds a lot like creationism, doesn’t it? Pour the old wine into a new skin and declare it to now be magically religion-free and therefore eligible for government funding despite that pesky First Amendment. Battaglia also intends to open a school in Warren, Michigan and has already received $100,000 from taxpayers for it. I hope the ACLU of Michigan is keeping a very close eye on this because Establishment Clause violations are inevitable.