Louisiana Education Superintendent John White published a spirited defense of his department’s so-called teacher “development tool,” otherwise known as “Compass,” in Sunday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The essence of White’s op-ed is his stated belief that improving teacher quality is the beginning and end of education reform. “In education,” White wrote, “it’s all about the teacher.”
Well. Perhaps teachers contribute a good 60 percent or more to the proper education of students. But what about the curriculum and text books? What about the actual information being dispensed in class? Does that matter, or is it all about the qualifications and instructional skills of the teacher?
Is it really, as White asserts, all about the teacher?
If I were White, that’s what I would argue. For to suggest that curriculum is equally as important would expose him to charges of dereliction for shoveling millions of state dollars into a state voucher program designed to support substandard private schools that teach what many would describe as junk.
Louisiana high school Rice University student Zack Kopplin, we know that White and Gov. Bobby Jindal are sending thousands of Louisiana children to private schools where they are indoctrinated in creationism and other wacky, quasi-religious subjects.
These schools are to sound education what beef jerky is to filet mignon.
- The 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.”
- The student handbook of Faith Academy, in Gonzalez, LA, says that as a Household of Faith school, students must “defend creationism through evidence presented by the Bible verses [sic] traditional scientific theory.”
- Ascension Christian High School, in Gonzales, also a Household of Faith school is Faith Academy’s high school campus.
- 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.”
- Northlake Christian Elementary School, in Covington, LA, teaches science using bothASCI’s “Purposeful Design Series” and ABeka materials. One Purposeful Design science notebook requires students to “discuss your thoughts about how the complexity of a cell shows that it must be purposefully designed.” NCES . . . specifies that “all curricular content is filtered through and presented within a Christian worldview.”
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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 infamous ACE 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.
- The Upperroom Bible Church Academy, in New Orleans, says [its] “curriculum is dependent upon a biblical philosophy” and according to the National Center for Education Statistics they use the ACE curriculum. [It] also claim[s] to blatantly attempt to convert [its] 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.
- Jehovah-Jireh Christian Academy, in Baton Rouge, uses both the ASCI Purposeful Design and ABeka curricula in science classes.
- 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.
- Greater Mt. Olive Christian Academy, in Baton Rouge, uses the ABeka curriculum.
- Faith Christian Academy, in Marrero, LA, uses the ABeka textbooks.
- 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.”
- Lafayette Christian Academy, in Lafayette, LA, uses Bob Jones and ABeka. Its “primary objective” is to educate students “without compromising the Word of God.”
- Cenla Christian Academy, in Pineville, LA, uses the ABeka and Bob Jones curricula.
- Family Worship Christian Academy, in Opelousas, LA, offers “a stimulating learning environment for our students utilizing A Beka curriculum.”
- Trinity Christian Academy, in Zachary, LA, explained via e-mail that it uses ABeka to teach high school science.
- Old Bethel Christian Academy, in Clarks, uses ABeka, [it] explained in an email.
- Holy Savior Menard Central High School, in Alexandria, teaches both evolution and creationism according to biology teacher Mike Cooper.
Yep, as White says, it’s all about the teacher.
- Bobby Jindal and Creationism (Guest Voice) (themoderatevoice.com)
- Bobby Jindal Tells Republicans to Stop Being So Stupid (slog.thestranger.com)
- La. voucher suit scheduled for hearing next week (sfgate.com)
- Should Vouchers Take Money Away from Desegregation? (dianeravitch.net)