Publicly funded science miseducation in private schools?

12.12.2017

HuffPost logoA new study suggests that textbooks that miseducate students about evolution and climate change may be in wide use in private schools that receive public funding through voucher or tax-credit schemes, according to Rebecca Klein in a lengthy article in the Huffington Post (December 7, 2017).

In researching the article, Klein explains, she and her colleagues focused on the 42% of the 8000-odd schools participating in private school choice programs that identify as Christian but not Catholic ("since there is already a large body of research on the outcomes of students who go to [Catholic] schools").

By searching those schools' websites and e-mailing their administrators, they ascertained that "many of the non-Catholic Christian schools (32 percent) were using Abeka, Bob Jones [University Press,] or ACE [Accelerated Christian Education] textbooks in at least one subject or grade," with Abeka the most and ACE the least popular. 

"The ideas in these textbooks often flout widely accepted science and historical fact," Klein observed. Creationism and climate change denial are among those ideas: a former student told the Huffington Post that she was told that climate change was a hoax, and the article quotes an ACE textbook as claiming that evolution "has no real scientific basis." 

Similar studies and critiques of the materials used in Christian schools participating in private school choice programs have been offered before, e.g., by Zack Kopplin writing about the Responsive Education Solutions charter school system — which, he alleged, was connected with ACE — in Slate in 2014.

"It is difficult to ascertain exactly how many students use taxpayer funds to attend schools with evangelical curricula," Klein wrote, "but we do know that over 400,000 students nationwide currently attend school using money from a voucher or tax credit program, according to the education reform group EdChoice."