Texas taxpayers are paying for their public charter schools to teach kids that magical fairies and unicorns are real and that if they walk too far they may fall off the earth. Okay – I made that up. But they are teaching Creationism – which is just as bad.
When public-school students enrolled in Texas’ largest charter program open their biology workbooks, they will read that the fossil record is “sketchy.” That evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis. They will be told that leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth.
Charter schools are run independently but they are still part of the public school system and they are still funded by taxpayer dollars. The largest charter program in Texas is run by Responsive Education Solutions. They operate 65 campuses with over 17,000 students and receive more than $82 million dollars in tax payer money annually. They have 20 more Texas campuses opening in 2014.
The program’s textbooks make dubious scientific claims, such as unsubstantiated arguments against evolution and the age of the earth:
A favorite creationist claim is that there is “uncertainty” in the fossil record, and Responsive Ed does not disappoint. The workbook cites the “lack of a single source for all the rock layers as an argument against evolution… The workbook also claims, “Some scientists even question the validity of the conclusions concerning the age of the Earth.”
Another Responsive Ed section claims that evolution cannot be tested, something biologists have been doing for decades. It misinforms students by claiming, “How can scientists do experiments on something that takes millions of years to accomplish? It’s impossible.”
The truth is, an overwhelming majority of scientists accept the theory of evolution, as evidenced by this statement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science:
Evolution is one of the most robust and widely accepted principles of modern science. It is the foundation for research in a wide array of scientific fields and, accordingly, a core element in science education. The AAAS Board of Directors is deeply concerned, therefore, about legislation and policies recently introduced in a number of states and localities that would undermine the teaching of evolution and deprive students of the education they need to be informed and productive citizens in an increasingly technological, global community.
Taxpayers should have a problem paying money to schools that teach religious dogma and mask it as science. These schools put their kids at a distinct disadvantage. The opening line of the workbook section on the origins of life states, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
I know if I lived in Texas, I wouldn’t want my taxpayer dollars going towards teaching these blatant fallacies. I am not an atheist. I have religious beliefs. I also believe in science and I very much believe in the separation of church and state. It is not acceptable for taxpayers to be footing the bill for this. They get around basing scientific arguments on Creationist beliefs by claiming that teaching all sides promotes critical thinking. But evolution, supported by the majority of scientists, is repeatedly questioned.
The promoting of Creationism is not the only problem with the program – they also manage to insert a religious skew on just about everything else: “In the section on the causes of World War I, the study materials suggest that “anti-Christian bias” coming out of the Enlightenment helped create the foundations for the war.” When discussing stem cell research, “it claims President George W. Bush banned stem-cell research because it was done ‘primarily with the cells from aborted babies.'” It talks about homosexuality as a “lifestyle.” But my favorite citing in Slate’s very informative article was when it mentioned how the program teaches about feminism:
On the feminist movement, Founders Classical Academy students are taught that feminism “created an entirely new class of females who lacked male financial support and who had to turn to the state as a surrogate husband.”
As long as separation of church and state exists, teaching Creationism is unconstitutional and taxpayers should not be expected to funnel money into these kinds of curriculums – which are clearly also filled with a bunch of misogynist, homophobic religious dogma.
(photo: Getty Images)