A couple of items caught my attention today. One concerns the Charter Schools in Texas, and the other a supposedly “scientific” research project approved by the Nebraska legislature.
First, the Charter Schools in Texas. A Charter School in Houston, claims to provide college preparation for its students. However, the school apparently uses religiously motivated anti-scientific texts. One such text states:
Hitler wrote that the Aryan (German) race would be the leader in all human progress. To accomplish that goal, all “lower races” should either be enslaved or eliminated. Apparently the theory of evolution and its “survival of the fittest” philosophy had taken root in Hitler’s warped mind.
This is an obvious attempt to link Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to the Holocaust! That is sick at the very least.
The group ResponsiveEd is responsible for the Charter Schools and their curricula. ResponsiveEd was founded by Donald R. Howard, former owner of Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). ACE is a fundamentalist curriculum that teaches young-Earth creationism as fact. They made headlines a few years ago because one of the ACE’s science books teaches that the Loch Ness Monster is real and that this was evidence against evolution.
After Howard left ACE in the 1990s, he founded Eagle Project charter schools, which became Responsive Education Solutions, or ResponsiveEd, in 2007. ACE’s selling point was that it integrated Bible lessons into every academic subject. ResponsiveEd planned to do the same, but hiding the explicitly religious basis. Howard told the Wall Street Journal in 1998: “Take the Ten Commandments – you can rework those as a success principle by rewording them. We will call it truth, we will call it principles, we will call it values. We will not call it religion.” In the end, what they are really doing is teaching religion in the classroom using public funding.
ResponsiveEd’s teaching on evolution promises that students will, among other things:
•Explain the difference between microevolution and macroevolution.
•Describe the theories concerning the origins of life.
•Discuss theories of human development.
•Express opinions regarding evolutionary theory in general and human evolution in particular.
•Describe controversies regarding evolution.
A I’m sure you are aware: Microevolution and macroevolution are frequently used as a false dichotomy by creationists, who say they accept the former and reject the latter. Biologists say that the two terms refer to identical processes over different time scales, so there is fundamentally no difference. The references to “theories” of origins of life and of human development implies that rival theories will be discussed. Since mainstream science has no rival to evolution, this can only be a reference to creationism or intelligent design.
The harshest criticism of these curricula came from a 1987 article in the Phi Delta Kappan that stated:
If parents want their children to obtain a very limited and sometimes inaccurate view of the world – one that ignores thinking above the level of rote recall – then the ACE materials do the job very well. The world of the ACE materials is quite a different one from that of scholarship and critical thinking.
The criticism did not only come from secular sources. Educators at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University also reportedly criticized ACE’s academics. According to BJU writers, the ACE and A Beka curricula failed to adequately educate their students academically or spiritually by neglecting … higher-order thinking skills.
This matter is a clear attempt to include religion into curriculum that is supposed to prepare our children for college. One could even say that is violates the separation of church and state provisions of the Constitution, which Rick Perry and other Texas Republicans claim to defend. The scary part is that ResponsiveEd already has over 60 schools and plans to move into Arkansas and Indiana.
The real problem is that when religion is hidden in school curriculum, it not only slants scientific study, but it also makes a real attempt at brainwashing children to think one way. Besides, who gave these people the right to determine which religion is taught in public schools. Not everyone who is in school is a Christian. And even all Christians don’t believe the same things! Just look at how many denominations of Christianity there are. Just look at the fighting between these denominations that goes on as to who is “the true Christian” So, regardless of which side of this issue you stand, your children could be forced to believe something that you do not, nor want them to believe! If you want your children to get religious education, either send them to private schools or bible studies.
The other item comes from the State of Nebraska. They approved a study of the effects of climate change on Nebraska. Problem is none of the State’s scientists are willing to conduct the study.
The problem, according to members of the governor-appointed Climate Assessment and Response Committee, is that the bill behind the study specifically calls for the researchers to look at “cyclical” climate change. This means it completely leaves out human contributions to global warming. Meteorologists don’t even consider “cyclical” as a scientific term.
State Sen. Beau McCoy, who added the word to the bill, is a known climate denier. “I don’t subscribe to global warming,” McCoy said during an earlier debate about the legislation. ”I think there are normal, cyclical changes.”
University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists at the meeting said they wouldn’t participate in the climate study if it excludes the influence of humans. Some said they wouldn’t be willing to ask others to consider doing the study, either.
One state climatologist reportedly told the committee: “I don’t want my name on something … and be used as a political pawn.”
So here we have two perfect examples of Republicans trying to make sure all future generations only get an education on what these people believe. Higher-order thinking skills seem to be a danger to them. But there is a true logic behind their plans. Don’t teach the electorate to think, and your job is safer because everyone will begin to think, or not think, like you.
There is a real danger in teaching our children not to think for themselves. School is supposed to be where we learn to think critically. Scientific research is supposed to look at all sides and come to a determination of what is going on in the world around us. Not teaching children to think is tantamount to brainwashing, in my opinion. Conducting research with the simple aim to prove your point and not look at all factors is not only poor science, it is genuinely dishonest. Aren’t we supposed to be better than that?
I went to private schools. At no time during my education was I ever taught not to think, question, probe, or examine before making up my mind. I tried to give my children the same type of education. One thing I did learn is that thinking is only dangerous if you consider a closed mind the perfect way to exist.