Dinosaurs and humans never lived at the same time — not even close — and evolution is a scientific fact, but Florida taxpayers (and the rest of us) are funding schools that rely on textbooks that teach the opposite.
The textbooks in question come mostly from three Christian education companies: Abeka, Bob Jones University Press, and Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). In addition to teaching lies about evolution and dinosaurs, the books teach that slaves who “knew Christ” were better off than free men who weren’t religious, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
At the Orlando Sentinel’s request, educators from Florida colleges and school districts reviewed textbooks and workbooks from these publishers, looking at elementary reading and math, middle school social studies and high school biology materials.
They found numerous instances of distorted history and science lessons that are outside mainstream academics. The books denounce evolution as untrue, for example, and one shows a cartoon of men and dinosaurs together, telling students the Biblical Noah likely brought baby dinosaurs onto his ark. The science books, they added, seem to discourage students from doing experiments or even asking questions.
“Students who have learned science in this kind of environment are not prepared for college experiences,” said Cynthia Bayer, a biology lecturer at the University of Central Florida who reviewed the science books. “They would be intellectually disadvantaged.”
If you’re not asking questions in science class, you’re not doing science.
The textbooks are bad enough when it comes to scientific accuracy, but the problem goes much further. Social studies textbooks from these companies reportedly downplay how terrible slavery was and tell lies about the treatment of Native Americans.
One book, in its brief section on the civil rights movement, said that “most black and white southerners had long lived together in harmony” and that “power-hungry individuals stirred up the people.”
The books are rife with religious and political opinions on topics such as abortion, gay rights and the Endangered Species Act, which one labels a “radical social agenda.” They disparage religions other than Protestant Christianity and cultures other than those descended from white Europeans. Experts said that was particularly worrisome given that about 60 percent of scholarship students are black or Hispanic.
These textbooks would be bad enough at Christian schools, but how did taxpayers get stuck with the bill? Because voucher programs, championed by Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to attend these schools.
The Orlando Sentinel specifically looked at textbooks in Florida, finding them at many of the 2,000 schools that get about $1 billion worth of state scholarships (“vouchers”). But these Christian textbooks are found in other private Christian schools across the nation, many of which also receive public funding.
The problem isn’t a new one, either. Just last year, the Huffington Post did an in-depth analysis of these companies and the voucher programs that make them sustainable. Reporter Rebecca Klein found that “14 states and the District of Columbia have voucher programs, and 17 have tax credit programs.” Furthermore, “75 percent of voucher schools across the country are religious,” most of which were Christian or Catholic.
These schools operate with little, if any, federal or state oversight, and they’re setting students up for failure. How can you gain college or graduate school-level expertise in science or history when you don’t even understand the basics?
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