According to a new story on Politico.com, there is a major push underway in many states across the country to use taxpayer money to fund private schools that teach creationism. An earlier story this year on Slate.com detailed 14 states that are currently funding such schools.
While debate rages on about whether or not evolution should be taught in public schools, few have noticed that some 26 states are considering expanding their current voucher programs or enacting new ones. Vouchers are subsidies given to parents who choose to send their children to private schools. Opponents of vouchers argue that by doing so the state is indirectly funding private schools who had traditionally relied on tuition and donations for funds.
The Daily Beast recently ran a story detailing four states that are considering laws aimed at limiting students’ exposure to evolutionary theory in public schools. Focusing on such legislation is to miss the larger push, according to the Politico story. The expansion of voucher programs is heavily funded by the American Federation for Children and even the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. The American Federation for Children has spent $18 million on campaigns to expand voucher programs since 2007. Americans for Prosperity worked to promote vouchers in 10 states just last year.
After years of court rulings it is well established that public schools cannot teach creationism. Many now argue that voucher program expansion would create a back door to have the state fund schools that want to teach that the earth is 10,000 years old. A study of textbooks from private schools that would benefit from vouchers found that many texts shun modern science and question evolution. One book called evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.”
That troubles advocates who feel the United States is already falling behind other countries in terms of education.
“I don’t think the function of public education is to prepare students for the turn of the 19th century,” said Eric Meikle, of the National Center for Science Education.
Proponents of vouchers argue that the debate is really about choice. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has made several speeches promoting school choice and voucher programs.
“It is my personal goal,” Cantor said this year, “that in 10 years, every child in America will have education opportunity through school choice no matter where they live.”