Let Schools Teach (More) Stupid Stuff (Like Creationism)

I can't get bent out of shape over Politico's heavy breathing over some tax-funded vouchers going to religious schools that teach a Flintstones-cum-Creationist view of evolution.

From my latest column at Time:

If we’re being honest, private and public schools at all levels teach all sorts of nonsense with tax dollars (Pell grants and guaranteed student loans are widely used at religious colleges and universities after all). Yet the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that such aid is constitutionally sound as long as the money goes to individual students and parents.

Whatever else you can say about school vouchers and other forms of school choice (such as charter schools), they expand opportunities for parents whose children are otherwise trapped in schools that rarely perform well. There is much research documenting that vouchers improve student outcomes and little that says vouchers diminish student outcomes. Stephanie Simon, the author of Politico‘s story about creationism and vouchers, quoted a Brookings scholar in a piece last year saying, “There’s no evidence that people are being harmed” via voucher programs. At the very least, it should count for something that parental rates of satisfaction are higher at schools of choice (including public charters and magnets) that at traditional public schools to which students are simply assigned.

At the very least, the col almost certainly contains some of the most positive invocations of Karl Marx since the days of Whittaker Chambers and Dwight McDonald:

Ideally, none of us would be forced to subsidize lesson plans or schools with which we disagree — and nobody would be forced to pay for schools unless their kids were attending or they felt like making a gift. Certainly it would be better to separate school and the state, if only because, as Marx might put it, the function of compulsory education is to reinforce the status quo and maintain the existing social order rather than to create critical thinkers who might challenge it.

Read the whole thing.

Related: "Hey Politico, Apparently Public Schools Don't Teach Low-Income Minority Students Sciene at All!" and "Tax Dollars Are Used to Teach All Sorts of Stupid Shit, But It's News When School Vouchers are Involved."

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Are people really that up in arms over Politico's revelation?

  • Tman||

    Don't you have massive Politico street protests going on right now in your cities?

    Their power is unlimited.

  • UnCivilServant||

    as Marx might put it, the function of compulsory education is to reinforce the status quo and maintain the existing social order rather than to create critical thinkers who might challenge it

    Blind chicken, corn, even Karl can't be 100% wrong.

    If we'd had choice is education when I was growing up, I seriously doubt I'd have known most of the people I did as a kid - they were of the "don't give a damn" crowd for which much lamentation is given, and little can be done. They and their parents don't give a damn, and it shows in their academic record. The main effect was to slow the pace of instruction to a crawl and force anyone who was interested in the purported topic to study on their own. But we can't discriminate against them and deny them opportunity, now can we? Even though none of them go anywhere as it is.

    I have yet to hear a cogent argument against voucher plans or any similar program. I don't think I will given what the unitary school proponents have to stand on.

  • ||

    Oh, I've heard cogent ones. They were just being made by slavers, so they were unconvincing.

  • sarcasmic||

    co·gent
    ˈkōjənt/
    adjective
    adjective: cogent

    1. (of an argument or case) clear, logical, and convincing.

    So they weren't cogent.

  • ||

    The slaves seem to be convinced.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Gee - I grew up in a conservative - and I mean Conservative with a capital C community where the biology teacher was a self-professed creationist. But yet I managed to somehow survive and come to my own conclusions about science. Heavens forbid that anyone else has to do the same.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I thought everybody in your community believes that the Van Andels created the Heavens and the Earth.

  • ||

    In my medium sized town public high school my chemistry teacher told me and a small group of students he believed crazy people were possessed by demons.

    He didn't say that during class though.

    He also had us all write a paper comparing and contrasting the denaturing of milk with blood coagulation. I think the point of the paper was to demonstrate that blood coagulation was a complex regulated process that only could have been designed by a maker.

  • SIV||

    he believed crazy people were possessed by demons

    Thankfully, superstition has been banished and the Science is Settled that crazy people are actually possessed by invisible, malevolent "chemical imbalances".

  • Juice||

    I want to support vouchers, but if the money is going to be spent on bullshit like creationism, I can't support them. Same thing with the grants and loans for college. I think they should be restricted to use for non-religious study. I don't think it would be necessarily unconstitutional for parents to spend vouchers at a church disguised as a school, but if there are already restrictions on how the money is to be spent then lets just go that little step further. Otherwise just give people their cash back. If they want to donate it all to a church and then homeschool, or if they want to spend it all on liquor, so be it.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I want to support vouchers, but if the money is going to be spent on bullshit like creationism, I can't support them.

    Then you don't really support vouchers, because schools teach all manner of bullshit already.

    Vouchers are money that parents get to spend. Do you think you can prohibit people from using their Social Security income from buying a Bible or donating to a Church?

  • Juice||

    Vouchers are money that parents get to spend.

    But not any way they see fit. They must spend them in a certain way at a certain place. Vouchers aren't straight cash. It's not the same at all as social security checks.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    So what? You get your political preference, then other people are going to get theirs as well and you're right back to government run schools.

  • sarcasmic||

    I want to support public schools, but if the money is going to be spent on bullshit like statism, I can't support them.

    (See what I did?)

  • Juice||

    Ok. And? You think I support government-run schools?

  • KPres||

    Yes. Pull your head out of your idealist ass. Private education isn't a reality, but a voucher system could be. If you reject it on something as petty as a few kids being taught creationism, you're supporting government-run schools.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I want to support vouchers, but if the money is going to be spent on things with which I don't agree, I can't support them.

    If you can support choice only for people when you agree with those choices, you're kind of an authoritarian, aren't you?

  • Juice||

    I'm having money taken from me by force to be spent on religion and I'm the authoritarian? You all are sounding like fucking progressives, honestly.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    That money is being taken from you regardless. Yes, granted, I'd rather not have government run schools, but that is going to require changing 50 state constitutions. In the interim, choice is better than no choice.

  • sarcasmic||

    My parents sent me to a religious private elementary school. Sure they taught some religious stuff, but they also taught everything else. And they taught it better. And faster. By the time my folks split up and didn't want to spend the money for me to go to a private school anymore, I was in seventh grade. I didn't learn anything new until my junior year of high school. Oh, and I'm an atheist. So it's not like I was brainwashed into being a religious drone.

    Keep your ignorance to yourself.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    See, you're having money taken from you by force...to be spent on schools. that's your error. It's not being spent "on religion", it's being spent on education.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah. What Randian said. Education run by religious people != religion.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I'm not in favor of taking the money by force.

    However, if the money is going to be taken from me by force, for 70 years or whatever, I don't think it's that outrageous to say, "Hey, for these 12 years, I get to direct how this money is spent on my child" even if I don't agree with how others spend that money.

    You seem to be OK with the concept as long as the parents make choices in line with your preference. Yeah, that's authoritarian.

  • AlmightyJB||

    So Juice you're fine with them using the money for any ridiculas lie they want as long as it has nothing to do with religion?

  • AlmightyJB||

    I might have a little more of an issue if there wasn't a show explaining the Big Bang Theory on every two hours. Or if they were teaching that 2 + 2 is whatever God decides it is at that particular moment.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Can we classify statism as a religion, forcing it to be separated from the government?

  • sarcasmic||

    That's how I read it.

  • Number 2||

    Yeah, we should be outraged that we are using tax dollars to teach creationism. When we could be using tax dollars to teach that Keynesian economics cured the Great Depression. Or using tax dollars to tell Americans that they can keep their health insurance plan if they like it. Or using tax dollars to tell us how spying on our emails and text messages prevented trillions of terrorist plots. Or.....

  • SIV||

    ...Black Africans in Egypt invented the airplane, Black Africans created and ruled the Olmec civilization,Pre-historic Europe was a peaceful matriarchy,1 in 4 college women will be raped, $.77 for every dollar a man makes, Communism is the best system so long as it's pure and has Top. Men...

  • AlmightyJB||

    AllUS captains of industry were robber barrons. The Nobel savage.

  • SIV||

    When Elvis recorded a Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song he was culturally appropriating from a Black Woman.

    ( see Alice Walker's 1955)

    Hound Dog

  • lap83||

    We definitely learned about the first thing in my high school and college classes. I wouldn't be surprised if the latter two are being taught now.

    We also learned such facts as:

    Rosa Parks was just a tired little old black lady that independently and spontaneously stood up to the evil racist system.

    The first European settlers tried their best to kill all the Native Americans, but some of them somehow survived and helped the pilgrims to not starve because something about the Natives being one with nature and not believing in personal property.

    Before the 1960s, everyone who wasn't a white man was basically in bondage. Then, thanks to the cultural revolution, things like colors and fun and love were invented. The white men still resent it, but the rest of us keep them mostly in check.

  • ||

    If they are going to teach this stuff can they at least agree Adam and Eve were not white?

    Too soon?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Eve was

  • ||

    Jooooos are white enough, no?

    Something something mark of Cain, or Curse of Ham or something...

  • ||

    Adam and Eve spawned more then just the Jews.

    You are thinking of the sons and daughters of Abraham. Now they were all Jews.

  • ||

    No, you're thinking Isaac or Jacob. Some of the descendants of Abraham grew up to be Ishmaelites.

  • ||

    Look, the problem is that this plays right into the hands of voucher opponents who argue that vouchers are just a backdoor mechanism for Christian fundies to sneak religious dogma into the classroom.

    These people want to end ALL vouchers, not just the ones that go to schools that teach Young Earth creationism. And they will use the argument that you can't discriminate to do just that - end ALL vouchers. i.e. "Well, if we have vouchers, we have to give the money to these idiots that teach pseudoscience. And that would be outrageous, therefore, we can't have vouchers, period. QED"

    But voucher's AREN'T a backdoor mechanism for evangelical Chrstians to promote creationist bullshit. These schools are a small fraction of the ones out there, and the main reason people support vouchers is it promotes competitive choice and improves student outcomes.

    By defending the right of these schools to get voucher money, you're actually validating the claim that voucher opponents make that the whole thing is a scam by Christian conservatives to get money to teach religion.

    The appropriate response to this is to simply say that you can only use voucher money at an accredited school, and to be accredited, you have to teach a minimum required curriculum. Yes, you CAN discriminate against schools that teach pseudoscience, because that's not up to the educational standards of the state.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I don't think "appropriate" means what you think it means.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    The appropriate response to this is to simply say that you can only use voucher money at an accredited school, and to be accredited, you have to teach a minimum required curriculum.

    That works really well until the required curriculum includes things you don't agree with. What you consider pseudoscience might well be scientific consensus to the next group that holds the purse strings. Education isn't advanced by creating "Ministries of Truth"

  • ||

    Sure, but there are other ways to deal with that. It strikes me as a bit silly to argue that excluding pseudoscience like creationism from the curriculum wil lead inevitably to mandatory teaching of Marxism.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    It strikes me as a bit silly to argue that excluding pseudoscience like creationism from the curriculum wil lead inevitably to mandatory teaching of Marxism.

    Scientific consensus is filled with pseudoscience right now, as it has been throughout the history of the world. Some of the things being taught this moment will be considered just as silly in the future as bleeding, humors, a flat Earth, geo-centrism, and Jesus riding on a dinosaur.

  • ||

    Also, teaching evolution is NOT like teaching someone's political ideology. Evolution is basic science. Not teaching it is like refusing to teach algebra, or saying it's just an opinion that kids should know how to read.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Also, teaching evolution is NOT like teaching someone's political ideology. Evolution is basic science. Not teaching it is like refusing to teach algebra, or saying it's just an opinion that kids should know how to read.

    Then the effect of not learning basic science will be a detriment to those that choose otherwise and it will become unpopular, just like any of other choices in life. And whether I think kids should know how to read is irrelevant. It's not my business to tell other people what is important. That's what RELIGIONS are for.

  • Jordan||

    The appropriate response to this is to simply say that you can only use voucher money at an accredited school, and to be accredited, you have to teach a minimum required curriculum.

    Obamacare for education? No thanks.

  • ||

    Why is it even remotely important that people belove the earth is over 6000 years old?

    I mean i love a good debate about the nature of human kind based on their evolutionary roots but it is not as if that debate is an important one.

    And it is not as if the left or right or feminists or communists or libertarians don't jump on the wrong side of that debate even with full knowledge of humankind's evolutionary roots.

  • ||

    Because you're crippling future generations ability to become medical doctors and researchers.

    Do you want the person who is going to care for you in your old age to be a person that thinks cancer is God's Will? Do you want future cancer researchers to believe that evolution doesn't exist? Are you hoping someone might someday find a cure for that genetic disorder your kid might be born with?

  • ||

    You are making a huge jump in thinking that belief in a 6000 year old world also requires one to abandon medical science.

    Furthermore it is not hard to find dipshit seculars who think cancer is caused by pesticides or that immunization causes autism.

    By the way I know two doctors, my neighbors, and I grew up with their kids, who are devout Christians who do not believe in evolution. One of their sons is even more devout and he is not a practicing doctor.

    I also mentioned above my science teacher in high school who had no problem teaching us the chemistry of blood coagulation.

    You are using strawman arguments.

    Note: yes i know some pesticides in large doses can increase the chances of cancer. I am talking about the "Silent Spring" version of small traces of pesticides causing a massive rise in cancer deaths.

  • KPres||

    "Because you're crippling future generations ability to become medical doctors and researchers."

    Really? You want to go down that path?

  • SugarFree||

    You can support school choice without having to minimize the staggering levels of delusion required to believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old.

  • ||

    I kind of wish i didn't know what i know. If only because i could then believe the earth was 6000 years old in defiance of all the assholes and liars who believe it is much older.

    Obama, and Bush both believe the earth is over 6000 years old as well as everyone in congress.

    All of those people believe in stuff far more damaging then the incorrect age of the earth.

  • SugarFree||

    You presume that people delusional enough to believe in a Young Earth aren't also assholes.

    It's not as if they believe one dumb thing and on everything else are perfectly rational.

  • ||

    You presume that people delusional enough to believe in a Young Earth aren't also assholes.

    That is the point. There are absolutely no stakes, nothing important, about knowing how old the earth is.

  • SIV||

    Obama, and Bush both believe the earth is over 6000 years old as well as everyone in congress.

    The leading candidate for the GOP nomination for GA's open US senate seat, Dr Paul Broun believes the Earth is about 9000 years old.

    He voted against the Patriot Act extension (and pretty much everything else he believes is unconstitutional) and has the endorsement of Ron Paul.

  • Rhywun||

    How many religions even teach that stuff as literal truth anymore?

  • ||

    Also how fucking delusional is it really?

    I can show how the law of comparative advantage works.

    What direct evidence can a layman show another layman that the earth is over 6000 year old?

    Basically it is the words in one book over another. And belief in one book over another on this subject has absolutely no baring on anyones day to day life.

    How much delusion is there in belief of something that has no effect on you and can't be proven easily?

  • SugarFree||

    It's very delusional. You aren't rejecting some small point of cosmology, you have to ignore pretty much all of physics, astrophysics, biology, paleontology, geology, chemistry, material science, archaeology, early hominid anthropology and a whole bunch of other basic science all in the furtherance of favoring the creation mythology of a small tribe of Bronze Age nomads as being the only people in all of time to hold the ultimate truth as to the origins of the world and everyone and everything on it.

  • SIV||

    ^^^Parroting the Lies of the Devil^^^

  • sarcasmic||

    Faith is, by definition, a steadfast belief in something you know without a doubt that you can not prove.

    Using that faith as the logical premise for your entire belief system.... I don't grok it.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    It's very delusional.

    Is that a "Bloody Mary" quote?

  • ||

    How many TeachTheControversy shirts do you own, SF?

    I kind of want the emboîtement one.

  • ||

    It's very delusional. You aren't rejecting some small point of cosmology, you have to ignore pretty much all of physics, astrophysics, biology, paleontology, geology, chemistry, material science, archaeology, early hominid anthropology and a whole bunch of other basic science all in the furtherance of favoring the creation mythology of a small tribe of Bronze Age nomads

    Bullshit.

    Also the Jews as we know them have their origins very much in the Iron age not the bronze age.

    Well unless of course you believe that crap about them building the pyramids that is.

  • Jim Kress||

    Eliminate Government Schools (and all associated taxes, departments, unions, etc.) and give people a true choice. The primary reason Government Schools were imposed was the fear of Catholic Schools taking over the education of our children, back in the late 19th Century.

    Parents have (and should assume) the responsibility for educating their children.

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