Saturday, July 21, 2012

Musings From the Atlanta Constitution on Louisiana

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Constitution wonders “Is Louisiana the future of Georgia’s education system?” He writes:
John White, Louisiana’s school superintendent, has told the press that it should be up to parents, not the state, to gauge whether private schools are delivering a quality education. “To me, it’s a moral outrage that the government would say, ‘We know what’s best for your child,’” White said. “Who are we to tell parents we know better?”

That “who are we to judge?” question is critically important. When fully implemented, the Louisiana program has the potential to shift well over a billion dollars a year in taxpayer money out of the public system into the hands of private for-profit and non-profit schools. Surely that gives state officials not just the right but the obligation to ensure that the money is well-spent and delivers quality education. But that’s counter to the philosophy driving the school voucher movement.
The purpose of the school voucher program for kids is so that they can get a better education, not a different one. While it is certainly true that there are horror stories of schools where the school theatre department is told that they can't perform West Side Story because it is racist and puts on The Vagina Monologues instead and politically correct thought runs rampant, science education should not be up for discussion.

If the science doesn't follow what is accepted by experts all over the planet, there should be no federal money going to it, whatever. Aside from the Establishment Clause issues, it is simply promoting bad science and using the school system to do it. If I were the state, I would shut this program down immediately.

On another level, it is deeply disappointing that these schools using these curricula seem to think that they are producing kids that can ever be competitive in science fields when they get taught this nonsense. It is my sincere hope that more colleges and universities will deny entrance to students that come out of these schools and who cannot demonstrate basic knowledge of astronomy, geology, cosmology and biology.

I disagree with him about what drives the school voucher movement, though. In us and in most people that I know, the desire to seek education outside the public schools is driven by the desire to make sure our kids get the best education that they can. Of all of the public schools in my area, only a few are decent and, as I mentioned above, one does not have to go far to find horror stories of bad public school teachers and schools. In most cases, the home-schooled kids are more prepared for college academically than their public school peers—except in science.

Other dangers await, as well. I have a friend who's daughter has drifted away from the faith and in the context of this, when her parents asked her how her home school education was, she replied “I wish you had told me more about evolution.”

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