Taxpayers in 14 states are subsidizing a sometimes vehemently anti-science curriculum at private religious schools through voucher programs, a Politico review found.
Politico’s Stephanie Simon did a deep dive Monday into just how far some faith-based schools receiving public subsidies go beyond merely teaching creationism. In reviewing hundreds of pages of course outlines, textbooks and school websites, Simon found that disdain for secularism and mainstream science in Christian private schools can encompass condemning “modern math theorists” who don’t view mathematics as “ordained by God” and labeling evolution science a “a wicked and vain philosophy.”
Some 250,000 students in the U.S. use tax-credit scholarships and vouchers, which pay for students to attend private school rather than public school with state-funded scholarships, according to Simon’s figures. That’s just a small fraction of the 55 million public school students in the country, but she notes that number taking advantage of “school choice” policies is up by 30 percent from 2010. It’s not clear how many of those students use voucher programs to enroll in Christian schools that shun a traditional science curriculum.
But advocates for school choice policies say that allowing families to choose schools doesn’t necessarily diminish scientific education for those students. Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute told Simon that if all families chose a school reflecting their values, he believes teachers in public schools wouldn’t be inclined to tone down lessons on evolution in order to appeal to students of all beliefs.
Critics of the voucher programs say they undermine national Common Core standards for math and reading, which have been met with paranoia and accusations of political motivation by conservative detractors. One creative Missouri lawmaker tied an appropriation for “tin foil hats” into a bill barring the state from accepting federal funds to implement Common Core in its public schools as a jab at those “conspiracy theorists.”
Read the whole Politico report here.
Image via Shutterstock / Ermolaev Alexander