A POLITICO review of hundreds of pages of course outlines, textbooks and school websites found that many of these faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact. Their course materials nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists. They often distort basic facts about the scientific method — teaching, for instance, that theories such as evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven’t been elevated to the status of “scientific law.”The vouchers that fund these schools are booming, with the number of students receiving them having risen 30 percent since 2010 and legislation proposed in 26 states to create or expand voucher programs. Of course, not all vouchers go to schools that teach that 19th-century math is insufficiently biblical, but the fact that they can should be a major national scandal. At least 300 voucher-funded schools in nine states and the District of Columbia teach creationism.
And this approach isn’t confined to high school biology class; it is typically threaded through all grades and all subjects.
One set of books popular in Christian schools calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.” Another derides “modern math theorists” who fail to view mathematics as absolute laws ordained by God. The publisher notes that its textbooks shun “modern” breakthroughs — even those, like set theory, developed back in the 19th century. Math teachers often set aside time each week — even in geometry and algebra — to explore numbers in the Bible. Students learn vocabulary with sentences like, “Many scientists today are Creationists.”
These religious schools aren't the only way vouchers and similar programs are hurting public education, of course—the explicit goal of leading voucher advocates is full privatization of education. And when I say explicit, I mean explicit: "Like most other conservatives and libertarians, we see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling," according to the president of the Heartland Institute in 1997. While the big spread of vouchers comes at the state level, they're very much a part of the national Republican agenda. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for instance, is all about vouchers. So don't be fooled by the "school choice" rhetoric. We're talking about an all-out assault on public education with a heaping dose of anti-science teaching.