education,  Religion,  Science,  Stateside

Still stupid after all these months [see update]

After Barack Obama’s reelection last November, Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal declared that the GOP needed to “stop being the stupid party.”

“… It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults,” he said. “We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I’m here to say we’ve had enough of that.”

While I admire Jindal’s forthright talk, I would take him more seriously if his own policies in Louisiana weren’t, in effect, promoting stupidity.

As Laura Clawson reports at Daily Kos Labor, Jindal’s administration is providing state-funded vouchers for students to attend schools that teach creationism.

Creationists usually claim that they simply want schools to teach creationism in addition to the theory of evolution, and let students decide for themselves. Some of the private Louisiana schools receiving state money do no such thing.

Let’s take a look at a few of those schools, shall we? In a Claiborne Christian Academy newsletter:

[T]he 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.”

New Living Word, meanwhile, “has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.” New Living Word is not alone in being a “school” at which instruction comes mainly through DVDs or workbooks rather than from trained teachers.

This is what state education money is going to in Louisiana. Jindal and other proponents of privatization say it’s done in the name of choice, but the war on public education—on education itself—is barely disguised if you look beyond the press releases.

I don’t happen to be an industrialist trying to decide where to locate my new hi-tech facility, but if I were, I would tend to look skeptically at a state that provides taxpayers’ money to a school run by people who believe scientists are sinful.

Update: Louisiana’s Supreme Court has declared Jindal’s voucher scheme unconstitutional.

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