Louisiana funds schools that teach creationism? Indiana does too

Louisiana’s school-voucher program has been getting a lot of media attention for providing public funding to religious schools that teach creationism and far-right ideas about U.S. history. The fact that Indiana’s voucher program does the same thing has largely escaped scrutiny.

Associated Press and Reuters news service have reported on Louisiana’s program and the controversy over whether taxpayer dollars should pay for the teaching of religious doctrine that is contrary to state science education standards.

And Mother Jones magazine mocked the Louisiana voucher program, listing “14 wacky ‘facts’” about science and history that Louisiana students will learn in voucher schools – for example, that humans and dinosaurs “probably hung out,” that “slave masters were nice guys” and “the Great Depression wasn’t as bad as liberals made it sound.” The magazine’s source is the A Beka and Bob Jones Press textbooks that are used in evangelical Christian schools that qualify for vouchers in Louisiana.

IUPUI professor and former Indiana Civil Liberties Union chief Sheila Kennedy laments such “rejection of science and rewritten history” in a blog post. “Welcome to Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana,” she writes.

Yeah, and to Mitch Daniels’ Indiana.

A number of Indiana schools receiving vouchers use A Beka and Bob Jones textbooks, according to their websites. Here are a few: Liberty Christian School in Anderson, Kingsway Christian School in Avon, Lighthouse Christian Academy in Bloomington, Covington Christian School, Horizon Christian School in Indianapolis, Mooresville Christian Academy, Richmond Academy and Grace Christian Academy in Scottsburg. Other Indiana voucher schools aren’t specific about their texts but refer to science lessons based on the idea of “God as sovereign Creator,” for example.

In Louisiana, Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, tells the Associated Press that students will be learning “phony science” at taxpayer expense. And C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister in Louisiana, argues that voucher programs are bad for religious freedom and bad for public education, according to the Huffington Post.

“Teaching the theology of Creationism is part of the mission of religious schools, and religious education more broadly – I defend with my life’s work their right to teach future generations about their faith,” Gaddy writes in a letter to the governor. “But they should not receive financial support from our government to do so.”

Louisiana Superintendent of Public Instruction John White counters that students in voucher schools will take exams based on state science standards that include the teaching of evolution, and “if students are failing the test, we’re going to intervene.”

Are Indiana education officials concerned that voucher-funded schools are teaching beliefs that conflict with state science standards? Katie Stephens, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Education, pointed out that the state voucher law specifically prohibits the DOE from dictating what religious schools can teach, even if the schools receive state money by way of vouchers.

As for holding the schools accountable, Stephens noted that private schools can be barred from accepting additional voucher students if they fare poorly on Indiana’s A-to-F school grading system. Voucher schools are required to administer state science and social studies exams, but those particular tests don’t have consequences. School grades are based on student scores and improvement on state tests in English and math, not science or social studies.

5 thoughts on “Louisiana funds schools that teach creationism? Indiana does too

  1. My son attends Grace Christian Academy. The academics they learn are much more advanced than public schools. They start a language in first grade, learn strong morals and bullying does not exist. Children and what is best for them is what should really matter. Teachers in public are so overwelmed large class sizes to give the individual attention some students may need. Schools are held accountable for what they teach her in Indiana. There are those in Indiana that oppose this still who I believe are most likely backed by those within the public school system

  2. “Section 6. No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.”

    -Indiana Constitution.

    Send your kids anywhere you want if you desire religious indoctrination or if you think the earth is 6,000 years old.

    Just don’t make me pay for it or drain money out of public schools (remember those overcrowded classes?) where legitmate science is required to be taught.

  3. Please be careful about lumping all religious schools together. My kids go to a religious school that takes vouchers, but they have a more rigorous science experience than most public school students get. I am a public elementary school teacher, so I feel confident saying that. My kids are not taught creationism or intelligent design. They are taught evolution and fact-based science that would be acceptable to any mainstream scientist. They use the same FOSS science curriculum that many of our public schools use.

    While I agree that vouchers should not pull critical funds away from public schools, do be careful about your criticisms of schools that have chosen to accept vouchers. They are not all cut from the same cloth.

  4. Vouchers are pulling critical funds from public schools, and it will only get worse. I suggest you go to the governing entity of your school and demand they no longer accept vouchers.

    Speaking of indiscriminate lumping:

    “My kids go to a religious school that takes vouchers, but they have a more rigorous science experience than most public school students get.”

    You have no way to confirm this.

    Please be careful about using such sweeping generalizations.

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