Perhaps due to the renewed focus on Governor Bobby Jindal‘s plan to send $11,000,000 of taxpayer money to Creationism-endorsing schools, it looks like the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is now smartly taking it more slowly when approving new programs:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Tuesday held back state approval from six new schools that board President Penny Dastugue says she is afraid were formed strictly to take advantage of the new voucher program.
Dastugue said she wants the board staff to take a closer look at the schools to assure that they meet the standards of good schools and comply with a constitutional requirement that their curriculum be at least as good as what’s used in public schools.
The six schools that were delayed are: Financial Plaza Christian Academy and Windermere Christian Academy, in Caddo Parish; Natchitoches Christian Academy, in Natchitoches Parish; Raphael Academy and The Upper Room Bible Church Academy-Paris Avenue, in Orleans Parish; and Conquering Word Christian Academy-Slidell, in St. Tammany Parish.
I wonder what all those schools have in common…
Zack Kopplin, who’s been leading the charge against bad science education in the state, notes in a press release that at least one of those schools already uses Creationism-promoting textbooks:
… When the board reconsiders these applications, Upper Room Bible Church Academy should be rejected without hesitation.
While there is no public documentation regarding the curriculum proposed by the other 5 schools, many of them fit the profile of schools that may be using a creationist curriculum. The Board of Education should fully review all of these school’s teaching materials and ensure they are only teaching evidence-based science. They should also go one step further: they should review the teaching materials of every school in the voucher program to make sure they are in compliance with the state’s curriculum standards and they should release this information to the public, just as public schools are required to do.
The board’s actions today are commendable and the superintendent should follow their lead and take action to remove all the schools using creationist teaching materials he has approved already. Anything else is the wrong answer for our children.
***Update***: The Interfaith Alliance’s Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy has also issued a stinging open letter to Gov. Jindal, calling on him to stop his voucher program:
… thoughtful educators, concerned citizens, and media representatives in the state are exposing your ruthless attack on public education — the provision that the founders of our nation considered essential to the survival of our democracy. You seem unable to distinguish between religious indoctrination and basic public education. Though Interfaith Alliance is a non-litigious agency, we are encouraging other agencies to file suits challenging your decision to use public tax dollars to build structures for churches across the state and to fund educational curricula that qualify more as a catechism than as a tool for holistic education. Of course, you flaunted your disregard for government-subsidized religion by choosing a Roman Catholic Church as the venue at which to sign your legislation!