As public schools in New Jersey are struggling for funding, the state’s citizens are footing the bill for Creationist “textbooks” used in private religious institutions.
State funds were used to buy dozens of copies of a “textbook” with a clear bias in favor of religion, according to the Asbury Park Press.
Books for religious teaching are not supposed to be purchased with state grant money, but one of the private school texts, titled “Fundamentals of Life Science,” promotes a “greater appreciation of the greatness of Hashem and His magnificent creations,” according to the book’s cover posted on Amazon.com. Hashem, a transliteration of Hebrew, is a word used in place of God.
About 60 copies of the 198-page book written by Rabbi Yaakov Lubin were purchased last year through the state grant program.
The Press asked the New Jersey Department of Education, which administers the textbook grant program, about foreign language texts and the books with religious themes — and whether they were allowed under state rules. In response, a department spokesman said state staff were reviewing how textbook grant funds were spent in Lakewood.
“I can tell you that we are looking into it,” education department spokesman Michael Yaple said, adding he could not provide further information about the review.
“Looking into it” better be the first of many responses since this would be illegal. While public schools are fighting for funding, there’s no justification for state-sponsored Creationism being taught in private religious classrooms. (To be sure, even if public schools had all the money in the world, the state shouldn’t be funding mythology in place of science.)
In this case, the “textbooks” were purchased using $1.6 million in state grant money earmarked for the 130 private schools in Lakewood Township, most of which are Orthodox Jewish.
The Press reviewed more than 370 pages of records documenting every textbook purchased through the grant program for private schools in Lakewood in the 2017-2018 school year.
The Press found more than 4,500 books and workbooks that teach Hebrew or Yiddish reading or writing — but no other foreign languages — and a small number, like “Fundamentals of Life Science,” with clear religious themes, according to listings on Amazon.com, the book covers and publishers’ websites. Dozens of copies of a history textbook that teaches “through the lens of God’s redemptive plan” have also been purchased in the last five years, the Press found.
Those books are among thousands of mathematics and history texts, and outnumber 70 copies of the literary staple, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.
Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill to make students even less informed. It’s not just illegal. It’s unethical. Taxpayers may be wasting their money this way, but those kids are wasting their minds at an age when science education ought to be thrilling. If these schools want the right to deny students a thorough education, they shouldn’t be rewarded for it.