Think Taxpayer Funding of Religious Schools No Big Deal? – A Wake-Up Call

    By The Secular School Teacher | 2 November 2014
    Daily Kos

    Corporations bent on privatizing education seem to be reading straight out of the Koch brothers’ ALEC playbook these days – manufacturing all kinds of “crisis” reports about the state of public education.

    These reports are then used as an excuse to line the pockets of Big Business and Big Religion by way voucher programs directing taxpayer monies to charter schools, many of which are religious in nature.

    Although charter schools are touted as being superior to public schools, studies reveal just the opposite. When demographics are taken into account, children from public schools consistently outperform those from private schools in math and reading.

    Why Public School Students Outperform Students from Private Schools

    The reasons for this are manifold. Private schools are often

    • not held to the same academic standards as public schools
    • not held to the same accountability measures with respect to educating students
    • not required to hire qualified instructors

    Public school educators, by contrast, typically hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in Education, with many teachers also holding Master’s Degrees.

    The United States lags behind other industrialized countries in science and mathematics test scores, and the U.S. is also the most religious of the industrialized countries. Is there a correlation?

    The Religious Score Lower on IQ Tests

    In 63 aggregate studies, researchers found that the more religious tend to be less intelligent than the secular.

    Out of 63 studies, 53 showed a negative correlation between intelligence and religiosity, while 10 showed a positive one. Significant negative correlations were seen in 35 studies, whereas only two studies showed significant positive correlations.

    Three possible interpretations were discussed:

    • Intelligent people are less likely to conform and, thus more likely to resist religious dogma.
    • Intelligent people tend to adopt an analytic (as opposed to intuitive) thinking style, which has been shown to undermine religious beliefs.
    • Several functions of religiosity, including compensatory control, self-regulation, self-enhancement, and secure attachment, are also conferred by intelligence. Intelligent people may therefore have less need for religious beliefs and practices.

    Parochial School Children have Difficulty Telling Fact from Fiction

    In two studies of 5- and 6-year-old children, secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional.

    The results suggest exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.

    The Moral and Ethical Problems with Using an Iron Age Book as a School Textbook

    The issues below might explain, at least in part, the reason the U.S. scores lowest in the majority of 24 indicators of societal and economic stability or what researcher Gregory S. Paul calls the Successful Societies Scale compared to secular countries.

    Overall, secular countries make the U.S. look like the problem child of nations.

    Biblical Teachings Detrimental to Socio-Emotional Skills

    Religion tends to produce an us-versus-them mentality, which helps to make our society a divisive one.

    This type of labeling also promotes a lack of compassion – except for those in the in-group.

    This likely explains, in part, why the Radical Religious Right routinely votes against increasing the minimum wage as well as services for the poor, seniors, veterans and the mentally ill.

    The Bible is Jam-Packed with Stories of Immorality

    On a moral level, tales of incest, rape and genocide regale Bible readers, where the good guy – “God” – is responsible for far more murders than the bad guy – “Satan.”

    “Original Sin” Concept Pernicious to Self-Esteem

    When adult role models tell children they are bad from the get-go, no wonder we have the highest per capita rates of assaults and homicides in the industrialized world. Kids are just living up to their potential of being “born in sin.”

    Biblical Teachings Terrorize Children with Threats of Hell and the End of the World

    To get children to behave, parochial school students are, even these days, frightened and in some cases traumatized with horror stories of a Hell, where “sinful” kids will mercilessly burn by a ruthless god for all eternity.

    Additionally, the Bible’s book of Revelation declares the world will soon end – at which point everyone will be killed except for God’s chosen few, referred to dispensationalism. And approximately every 12 years Christians spread these gloom and doom proclamations that serve no purpose except to create anxiety in the general population.

    It is small wonder many have equated a Christian upbringing with a form of child abuse.

    The Bible is filled with Scientific Nonsense

    The Bible is rife with them but one particularly nutty example is in the King James Version, in which there are numerous references to unicorns (Job. 39:9-10; Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10; Isaiah 34:7; Num. 23:22, 24:8; Deut. 33:17).

    This was (wisely) changed to “wild oxen” for American Standard and International version audiences, but the editors left in declarations that the Earth is flat (Job 38:13; Isaiah 11:12; Rev. 7:1), stationary (Eccles. 1:5; Psalms 93:1, 96:10, 104:5; Joshua 10:12; 1 Chron. 16:30) and rests on pillars (I Sam. 2:8; Job 9:6, 38:4).

    Creationism or “Intelligent Design”

    Hundreds of schools, both private and public and particularly in the South, use the Bible as a textbook even in science classes. One major topic is creationism, a notion that the world was conjured up in under a week and which violates the laws of biology, physics, geology and chemistry.

    In Britain, creationism is now considered an “extremist view” and compared to radical Islam. In an attempt to check religious extremism in public schools, British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said schools that teach Biblical creationism would be refused government funding.

    Private School Curricula often Mirror an Anti-Science, Pro-Corporate Agenda

    Below is a very brief overview of what many private and public taxpayer-funded schools across the country are teaching:

    • Although evolution hasn’t been debated for half a century – since scientific consensus deems evolution to be the foundation of modern biology – the Radical Christian Right still falsely seeks to instill the belief that evolution is controversial through primary and elementary school textbooks. This might help to account for America’s low belief rates in evolution – only above Turkey – compared with other industrialized nations.
    • Perhaps because Christians were the main perpetrators of slavery, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s voucher schools are teaching slavery was good, and the (Christian-offshoot) KKK were civic reformers, per the United States History for Christian Schools (2nd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 1991).
    • The fact that climate change is happening is being ignored in schools throughout the U.S. or educators are teaching that it is a natural cycle, rather than the scientific consensus that it is man-made.

    Wyoming recently became the first state to prohibit adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) – for K-12 students developed by the National Academy of Sciences and 26 states – solely because the NGSS include climate science. Oklahoma legislators recently voted to reject NGSS because of the climate science content as well, and similar challenges to these research-based science standards are brewing in other states.

    Other Ways Private Schools Lack Quality Instruction

    Due to the fanciful assertions, most religious ideologies do not withstand critical thought, which is why parochial schools spend much time teaching our kids what to think rather than how to think.

    This is presumably why some “red” states have rejected the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The CCSSI is a nation-wide effort based on scholarly research and input from education professionals to level the playing field across the states in order to prepare children to be college- and career-ready. Developing critical thinking skills is a big part of it.

    Additionally, many private schools still use an outmoded approach to education that stresses memorizing formulas over problem-solving. And instead of using their autonomy to become better, they invest in marketing that’s designed to attract the easiest-to-educate students, note University of Illinois professors Christopher and Sarah Lubienski in The Public School Advantage.

    Other narratives involve private school teachers parking the child in front of a computer for much of the day, although studies show an overuse of technology leads lower creativity and critical thinking skills.

    Paying to Dumb-Down and Terrorize Our Children

    Due to a lack of oversight, stories of mismanaged funds and downright fraud with regard to publicly-funded private schools abound, including in Wisconsin and Florida. In Pennsylvania charter schools, for example, there’s been at least $30 million in fraud by charter school officials.

    In essence, we are squandering billions to intellectually handicap our children, since scarce taxpayer monies funnel funds for proven public school improvement strategies to private schools with no accountability. The latter serve fewer students at a greater cost and tend to benefit the rich and middle class more than the poor since most private schools are located in upper income areas.

    Up to 30 percent in the U.S. claim no religious affiliation.

    Isn’t it time the “nones” became the political force we are capable of being and fight for our right to refuse to pay to indoctrinate our kids with Christian twaddle?

    And while we’re at it, perhaps we can also put an end to the idea that being tolerant of silly and harmful religious notions at the expense of rational discourse is a noble thing.

    Papantonio: Santorum The Embodiment of Anti-Intellectualism

    Inhofe: The Bible Says Global Warming Is A Hoax

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