Louisiana’s new voucher program will kick in during the upcoming school year, giving students in failing public schools the funds to attend certain highly rated public schools and private institutions. Some of these private schools will be spreading ignorance to their students by using curriculum that openly clashes with modern science.
One textbook used by many private schools makes the creationist claim that no transitional fossils showing evolutionary changes have ever been found, which is simply not true. “This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis,” the book reads. “For the change, to have taken place many transitional forms would have been developed. However, no transitional fossils have been or will ever be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsman fashioned them all” [poor reasoning and use of commas theirs; emphasis ours].
This excerpt comes from a high-school science book used in the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum, an educational tool in many Louisiana schools, like the Eternity Christian Academy in Calcasieu Parish, which is offering spots for 135 voucher students. British musician Jonny Scaramanga, who attended an ACE school while growing up as a Christian fundamentalist, has published this and other alarming textbook passages on his blog, Leaving Fundamentalism, including the creationist claim that the second law of thermodynamics disproves evolution.
ACE isn’t the only company whose unscientific lessons stand to get a big boost from public funds turned loose in Louisiana. Some institutions, such as New Living Word in Lincoln Parish (which currently invites 315 scholarship students worth $2.7 million in state support), instead use the A Beka Book homeschooling program. Over at the Talk to Action blog, researcher and writer Rachel Tabachnick has recorded certain unscientific claims in A Beka Book’s educational material. Science texts describe evolution as belief-based rather than scientific, and the 1994 edition of an 8th-grade science textbook claims that “Creation, not evolution, is based on a reasonable faith.” In addition to creationism, one economics textbook denies global warming, calling it “simply not supported by scientific evidence…Global environmentalists have said and written enough to leave no doubt that their goal is to destroy the prosperous economies of the world’s richest nations.” And environmentalists aren’t the only ones to watch out for—other excerpts contain hostility towards non-Protestant religions and non-conservative politics.
One of the nice things about publishing creationist textbooks based on the unchanging Bible is that when you put out new editions, you don’t have to worry about modifying the text to include any new, inconvenient discoveries, like the “fishapod” Tiktaalik roseae, an amazing transitional fossil showing a key part of one fish lineage’s evolutionary journey onto land. When asked about whether ACE made any recent, substantive changes to Biology 1099, a science textbook now in its third edition, a staff member at the customer information desk said, “Most of our curriculum is solid. Most of our updates are cosmetic—as we grow as a company we’re able to update the look of [a book] more than the content sometimes.”