I’ve heard a lot of scary stuff in my day but the following excerpt is right up there at the top of “scared straight” list:
Far more openings are available at smaller, less prestigious religious schools, including some that are just a few years old and others that have struggled to attract tuition-paying students.
The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.
The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding.
At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution.
“We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children,” Carrier said.
This is an excerpt from an article discussing Louisiana’s plan to privatize their public education system, which is already one of the worst in the United States.
I used to think that privatization of the prison system was the most dangerous of all privatization schemes (closely followed by privatization of national defense) but this story has quickly pushed privatization of education to the top of the list. Why? Because when you fund private entities that have little or no educational resources coupled with little or no interest in providing true academic rigor the poor (literally poor) kids that end up at these schools have virtually no shot of developing the crucial critical thinking skills (like skeptical thinking & scientific inquiry ) or technological proficiency needed to excel in today’s quickly evolving and tech-heavy world.
And that doesn’t bode well for the US economy or society as a whole.
Wonder what your thoughts are, Gabe.
Hey Hugo, actually I am not that shocked, but let me explain why. For quite some time now, many of us who are very close to the teachers that work in the public school system have known what the ultimate chess move of charter schools would be, and beside the ridiculous notions they initially put forth of essentially privatizing public schools, the part that is way worse is their overall lack of regulation because they are outside the domain of the public school system. Within the charter school system, essentially, parents get a voucher worth a dollar value (mind you, those dollars are actually our collective tax dollars), which they can apply to the school of their choice. And of course, there is no rule that says a religiously-driven, private schools can’t be included. Even though it clearly seems to undermine the separation of church and state in my opinion.
Nonetheless, the conservatives are getting exactly what they aimed to do from the beginning: 1) find yet another way to put public tax dollars into private corporations; 2) indoctrinate the youth with core religious values that will ensure they grow up to be good old conservative voters.
It truthfully makes me sick every time I hear about the charter school scam. They’ve been trying to sell it as a better educational system, with more accountability from teachers, and all because it can be ran as an efficient business, without the bureaucracy of unions. But to me, it is a cop out and a load of shit. Anytime people stand to profit from such endeavors, it makes it really hard for me to believe that it’s being done for my own good. Much the same way that all these new voter fraud laws in Florida are to my supposed benefit, all the while they also conveniently benefit conservative politicians at the same time by disenfranchising many ethnic, minority voters who would vote against them.
And more importantly, why have we given up on the Public School System that is currently in place? If we invested the same money that’s funding charter schools back into the original system, I’m sure it would make a difference. In the end of the day, it has pretty much been proven that class sizes and exceptionally great teachers don’t play the biggest roles in education; as a matter of fact, it’s the amount of hours kids spend in the classroom which makes the biggest difference. But to be able to compete with the same amount of hours other developed nations are providing their children, who are out ranking our kids across the board on scholastic tests, we’d have to hire more teachers. And that will never happen in a state where conservatives are in charge. It goes completely against their philosophy and agenda.
Based on their track record, it seems that when it comes to cutting spending, education is where it always seems to be taken. Rather than raising taxes to previous levels in the US by getting rid of all kinds of loop holes that only benefit the top 5% of earners, they would prefer to keep taxes where they are and zap funds from education. Thus, Public Schools can’t hire more teachers, can’t offer kids and improved education with more hours, and also can’t compete in Math and Science globally like we used to. Instead, they’ll convince us we’re better off with a voucher system that anyone can take down to the school of their choice. In this case, a religious school, since that’s what the people who voted them into power prefer any way. And so, those people can provide their children with the same traditional religious education they grew up with on our (the tax payers) dime.
To me, it is essentially publicly funded discrimination. Our tax payer dollars go into private religious schools, under the charter school system, those schools then with all the new incoming money, reinvests in their school (couldn’t decide if “business” was the more appropriate word there); thus, test scores improve, those schools get better ratings and recognition, and as a result, more parents enroll their children into those schools and overlook the religious indoctrination by justifying the education their kids will get. But what about the Muslim kid whose parents prefer not to send him to one of those “top” Christian schools? It goes back to that convo I told you I had earlier where the opposing parties logic was: “well, you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. No one is forcing you.”
I try to avoid generalizations, so I’m not sure that I can paint charter schools with such a broad brush. There are some tremendously solid, secular charter schools all over the country. That said, I do agree that there are currently too many loopholes that allow theocratic institutions to thrive despite their lack of academic rigor and inability to provide students with the resources needed to open young minds.
When charter schools are used a back-door way to skirt separation of church and state everyone in the United States loses, because kids will ultimately come out of school less educated, more close-minded, and less capable of helping the US compete in the new technical, digital economy.