Pennsylvania Omitted from Slate's Map of Schools Receiving Public Funds and Teaching Creationism
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 02:34:14 PM EST
 photo sciencevsevolutiongraphiccopy.jpgA current article in Slate Magazine includes a map of the schools in the U.S. teaching creationism while receiving taxpayer funded vouchers or "scholarships."  A substantial number of Pennsylvania schools that both teach creationism and receive public funding through "school choice" programs were not included on that map.  It will be important to keep updating the map to include all of the programs that divert public funds to private schools, and to emphasize that the public-funded teaching of creationism is not limited to the South. [Graphic at right is title of a chapter on creationism in A Beka's Matter & Motion in God's Universe textbook.]
Also see Rob Boston's post at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It's "National School Choice Week," but Boston warns that it really about school vouchers.

Pennsylvania is one of the states with a back door voucher program in which corporations get credit against their state taxes for "donations" to private schools.  In other words, if you own a company, you can give the tax money you owe the state to a private school program, some of which teach young earth creationism as well as bigotry toward other religions and the gospel of the free and unfettered market.  This program is advertised in Pennsylvania as costing taxpayers nothing, although these corporate taxes are owed to the state, and the diversion of those dollars to private schools reduces state revenue.  The program now cost the state 150 million dollars per year.

In Florida, a corporation can get 100% credit for that "donation" and in Pennsylvania, a corporation can receive 90% credit for a two-year commitment.  In other words, the donation costs the business little or nothing, as touted on many private school websites promoting the corporate tax credit.  The "scholarships" are distributed by a central entity in Florida called Step Up For Students, one of several names used by a nonprofit founded by John Kirtley, vice chairman of the Betsy DeVos-led  American Federation for Children. In the latest statistics on Florida's program, 48,981 of the 60,123 students in the program, attended religious private schools. In Pennsylvania, the EITC funds are handled by a by a long list of "Scholarship Organizations," a list that includes schools that teach young earth creationism.

 photo mockingglobalwarmingcopy.jpg I have not done a recent or complete survey of Pennsylvania schools teaching creationism and receiving public funding.  However, in 2011 Bruce Wilson and I produced a video titled "School Choice: Taxpayer-Funded Creationism, Bigotry, and Bias." In the process of making the video, we quickly found more than two dozen schools in Pennsylvania that were receiving the corporate tax credit funding or Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and using A Beka, Bob Jones University Press (BJU), and/or Accelerated Christian Education curricula. The curriculum of each of these companies teach young earth creationism.  Specific examples from A Beka and BJU textbooks are  featured in the video, including verses and cartoons mocking evolution and climate change. [Graphic above right from page 167 in A Beka's Science: Order & Reality textbook.] We also found additional schools using other young earth creationist curricula.

Following is a the 34-minute version of the video on Pennsylvania.  Farther down in this article is a seven and a half minute segment (pulled from the longer video) that is limited solely to examples from A Beka and Bob Jones University Press textbooks.

In 2011, over 150 schools in Pennsylvania also belonged to the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), which both supports the teaching of young earth creationism and organizes member schools to lobby the state legislature for private school choice programs.  ACSI was the organization that brought a case against the University of California - ACSI v. Stearns, filed in 2006 - to try to force the university system to accept credit for high school courses taught with A Beka and Bob Jones University Press textbooks, including coursed founded on young earth creationism. Ultimately the University of California system won the case and was able to keep it's standards for determining whether to accept high school credits. ACSI currently claims 3000 member schools in the United States.

If you are interested in viewing examples from A Beka and Bob Jones University Press curricula, see this seven and a half minute video.

Pennsylvania has been a primary target of the school privatization movement for more than a decade and a half.  Following are links to a previous series of articles on the Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children and its privatization efforts in Pennsylvania and other states.  Also see other Talk2action articles written over the last eight years, providing insight into the process that has resulted in the both the widespread teaching of creationism at schools receiving public funds and the privatization of public education.

Links to previous articles: 

The Right's School Choice Scheme
The Public Eye of Political Research Associates urriculum-from-a-christian-nationalist-worldview/
From Schoolhouse to Statehouse: Curriculum From a Christian Nationalist Worldview
The Public Eye of Political Research Associates super-wealthy_right-wingers_working_with_the_religious_right_to kill_public_education
Meet the Super Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education

Talk2action articles on Betsy Devos-led American Federation for Children, privatization, and creationism.
Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Styled Attack on PA Public Schools
This was the first article in a series on the national pro-voucher movement and is focused on the money and organizations behind the pro-voucher efforts in Pennsylvania including the Students First PAC and the Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children.
Pro-Voucher Astroturfing: Campaigns Across Nation Coordinated by DeVos, Funded by a Few Mega-Donors

Part Two in this series tracks millions of dollars contributed to American Federation for Childrens' Indiana PAC in 2010, and then distributed to pro-voucher efforts in several states.
Betsy DeVos Announces PA Governor Tom Corbett Will Keynote Pro-Voucher National Policy Summit
The article also includes information on the funding of media attacks against a PA Senator opposing the school vouchers bill.
Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled Out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech
The article includes a short video clip from Dick DeVos' 2002 speech to the Heritage Foundation about pro-voucher strategy.
Protesters Object to School Privatization Efforts of DeVos, Michelle Rhee and PA and WI Governors
This article was written following my participation in the protests outside the American Federation of Children conference in D.C., which featured Gov. Tom Corbett and Michelle Rhee as speakers. The article includes links to other sources of information on Pennsylvania's school voucher bill.
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
The Prince and DeVos families leading the national pro-privatization of schools effort are also promoting other privatization efforts and funding Religious Right entities.
Vouchers/Tax Credits Funding Creationism, Revisionist History, Hostility Toward Other Religions
Through corporate tax credit programs in Pennsylvania, Florida, and other states, private schools are receiving public dollars.  Many of these schools are using A Beka and Bob Jones University textbook series, teaching Creationism and hostility toward Roman Catholicism and non-Christian religions.
Preview of "School Choice: Tax-Payer Funded Creationism, Bigotry and Bias"
34-minute video on Pennsylvania private schools receiving corporate tax credit funding while teaching from textbooks that promote creationism, revisionist history, and  hostility toward Roman Catholicism and non-Christian religions.  The article includes the full 34-minute  video and a 6-minute preview.
Theocratic Libertarianism: Quotes from Gary North, Ludwig von Mises Institute Scholar
This is an indirectly related article with quotes from Christian Reconstructionist Gary North.  These quotes provide a background for understanding the Religious Right's arguments for ending public education.
Lousiana School Voucher Debacle
Louisiana Vouchers Students Headed to Schools Using A Beka, Bob Jones, and ACE Curricula
Nessie a Plesiosaur, Louisiana to Fund Schools Using Odd, Bigoted Fundamentalist Textbooks, by Bruce Wilson

Articles by Barbara Forrest:
Bobby Jindal: George Bush Redux in Louisiana
The Discovery Institute, the LA Family Forum, and the "LA Science Education Act"
Bobby Jindal's Creationist Talking Points
Neutrality That Isn't:  The Case of the Texas Education Agency

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