Louisiana School Voucher Decision Banishes Children to the Bronze Age

Bobby Jindal
Photograph by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Delusion runs rampant in Louisiana. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s new private school voucher program will, reports Right Wing Watch, “exempt private schools receiving vouchers from participating ‘in the state testing and accountability program imposed on traditional and charter public schools.”’ The new system, which will bring to the fore Bible-based church schools, goes into effect this fall.

Jarvis DeBerry, in an opinion piece appearing in the Times-Picayune last week, wrote that “Gov. Bobby Jindal dismissed every concern about his school vouchers bill as yelps of pain from the status quo. Even folks whose reform credentials shouldn’t have been questioned got the brush off from Jindal, who programmed his spokespeople to say the same thing of every question asked of them: Parents are the best accountability system we’ve got.”

But as the Times Picayune reported in the wake of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s July 24 decision,

The independent Bureau of Governmental Research released a report Monday criticizing White’s plan as too soft, both for excluding schools with fewer than 40 voucher students from facing consequences and for setting such a low bar for those with 40 or more.

“Short of no accountability standards at all,” the report reads, “it is difficult to imagine a lower standard of performance than what the proposed system offers. Yet the proposal also allows waivers in some circumstances.”

We will call this the “it’s okay to be dumb if you’re Christian” program, because as RWW goes on to say, those Christian students won’t have to “pass state exams to advance to the next grade level and won’t even receive state letter grades meant to evaluate student performance.”

And believe it or not, Christians are celebrating their right to be left behind.

Hard to believe just a few years ago Evangelical hero George W. Bush was selling America his No Child Left Behind Act, and now his former supporters can’t wait to backslide into the Bronze Age.

What happened?

Well, a neo-Luddite reaction to a fast-paced modern world is part of the problem. Change – technology and globalization – just scares the hell out of conservative religionists, Christian and otherwise. You have only to look at recent offerings like Wallace Henley’s Globequake (2012), which purports by reminding readers of the “unshakeable promise of God” to protect believers from the shifting sands of a cultural “globequake.” Conservative Christians want a life-line. The past is a life-line.

The difference is, conservative Christians have the clout to regress while conservative religious minorities are dragged into the future, like it or not.

They’re the lucky ones.

Who ever thought privilege and power could be a handicap? But it is – at least in Louisiana.

Rev. Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, who prayed over Jindal at his group’s Christmas Gala, said RWW on Monday, “told David Barton and Rick Green today on WallBuilders Live that the program will increase student exposure to ‘religious material’ and ‘release the Word of God’ to children.”

You would think learning how the world works – how people work – would be more important than what people believed 3,000 years ago. Instead, a reversion to Bronze Age science and technology, what people believed about the world before they had the means to know anything about it, seem to be major selling points. And that’s the problem with technology: it contradicts the inerrant Word of God. Something has gotta give, and you can bet your Virgin Birth that in Louisiana it won’t be the Bible.

RWW lays out the problem to be faced by the next generation in God-besotted Louisiana:

And who is rallying the opposition from the “teachers unions and the government bureaucrats”? Why, Satan of course. “There is no doubt it’s going to have its impact and it’s going to hit its target and it’s going to strike fast, and that’s why the Enemy is kicking back,” Mills said, “He realizes what’s going to happen when all of the sudden these kids come into a knowledge unlike their former secular humanist seminary, they are being rooted and grounded in foundational and fundamental, timeless principles that can change a person’s eternity.”

If science disagrees with the Bible, it’s gotta be Satan to blame for reality’s liberal bias just as he is for teacher’s unions. It can’t be that advanced 21st-century technology backed up by scientific proof actually means anything compared to the intellectual efforts of Bronze Age man.

Mills said on WallBuilders Live that “For those of us who have a faith background, the idea that the truth can still set kids free, can you imagine what would happen if you uncapped religious clubs, religious speech, student body prayer, religious material, as is the case in most private or parochial schools.”

The truth can set kids free but the kind of truth kids need is the kind grounded in reality and in the findings of modern science. Ignorance doesn’t set anybody free; ignorance is a prison.

Elsewhere in the industrialized world, children are being taught mathematics and science and learning to cope with a world that is racing at breakneck speed into the future. In Louisiana, you have to wonder if the medieval innovation of crop rotation won’t soon be too advanced for a state increasingly dedicated to the days preceding the wheeled plow and the horse collar.

Benighted Louisiana Christians can pretend the modern world does not exist, but they cannot stop living in it no matter how hard they try. The world will be out there waiting while they sink into oblivion. And where will their children be then?

But Rick Green insists that “It’s not just reading, writing and arithmetic they’re gonna do better, they’re gonna become better people.” Better people with no realistic knowledge or understanding of the modern world?

Ignorance has never had such a champion as those who rub elbows with David Barton. Takes Mills for example:

When you remove the federal courts and you release the power of the word of God, there is no doubt it’s going to have its impact and it’s going to hit its target and it’s going to strike fast, and that’s why the Enemy is kicking back. He realizes what’s going to happen when all of the sudden these kids come into a knowledge unlike their former secular humanist seminary, they are being rooted and grounded in foundational and fundamental, timeless principles that can change a person’s eternity. They will be equipped, and they’ll be educated along the way too, but they’ll be filled with character capable of making insightful decisions towards the future.

Release the power of the word of God and the modern world goes away? Luddite fantasies become reality? Creationism in place of evolution? The evidence of paleontology will go away and dinosaurs will have walked with humans? The Grand Canyon will suddenly be created by Noah’s flood, science be damned, or, as Reuters reports, “Bible-based math books that don’t cover modern concepts such as set theory”? Can’t have that 1870’s thinking in our schools!

But because a child is challenged in math is no reason to take math away.

How, exactly, does the “word of God” benefit Louisiana’s children if “he” wants them to believe things that are demonstrably untrue?

The tragedy here is that because of a few, all Louisiana will suffer. DeBerry makes a point:

The money that funds public schools — and now these vouchers to escape public schools — comes from everybody, not just people with children in the system. Consequently, the public — including members of the public who’ve never had children — is within its rights to demand that its money be spent wisely, that it not be thrown away by ideologues who believe without exception that the private sector does everything better.

We’re not talking here about a damage that will be limited to a year. We are talking about damage that will be permanent; something that will scar these children intellectually for the rest of their lives. In this very technological, highly competitive world, there is no room for the Bronze Age.

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23 Replies to “Louisiana School Voucher Decision Banishes Children to the Bronze Age”

  1. Oh, don’t worry. With these blockheads dictating national policy, soon Louisiana will be under water and all these kids, who have been taught to measure in cubits, will build an ark.

  2. This is truly disturbing. These poor kids will then go to christian colleges (the only ones who would accept them) and then run for public office. And win. From what I can see, god is rewarding Louisiana for its piety for giving them a high teen birthrate, poor economy and horrendous test scores…oh, wait, test scores are the work of Satan.
    Or is this just another way to keep the people stupid and controlled….even more insidious.

  3. Industry tells us they want their employees to have excellent critical thinking skills- the ability to take knowledge from many areas and use it to solve difficult problems. What company will want to locate in a state where people 1) have no knowledge of the facts of science and technology and 2) don’t know how to think?

  4. Someone needs to remind the voters of Louisiana that their kids will grow up to compete with their contemporaries in Germany, Japan, Russia, China, India, etc. who learned actual science and didn’t have their educations crippled with this nonsense.

  5. It really is sad that the children have to suffer because of the ignorant delusional rednecks. They seem to really believe that”ignorance is bliss”.

  6. Bobby ‘The Exorcist’ Jindal is evil. His lust for power condemns our next generation to a sharecroppers life – renting the services and facilities their parents bought and paid for.

    Wish France would have taken us back after Katrina. WE begged.

  7. Sadly, companies in the Bible Belt don’t want thinkers, just doers which is exactly what heavily indoctrinated Biblicans are. Thinkers tend to speak up and speak their minds. This upsets the “sheeple” mentality.

  8. I think many of us have experienced Green’s “Better people”. They’re the ones that murder in the name of God, commit arson, destroy property, poison beloved pets, and so on – then are piously praying in church on Sunday.

    Or as I’ve heard it put re fundamentalist preachers in the Southeast – lynching African Americans on Saturday Night and preaching on Sunday morning.

    Seriously, I’ve encountered these types in college classes (the kids put through the educational system they’re trying to bring about), and they’re more numerous than generally thought. In one large introductory biological anthropology class I took (as an undergraduate), the professor said up front that evolution was a foundation of our science and that if the students couldn’t live with that, they should drop the course and take something else. She said that if they disrupted the course because they didn’t accept evolution, they’d be expelled from the classroom, by police if needed, and such activities would not be tolerated. (We still had some lively discussions in the class, but no disruptions.)

    Out of a class of around 300, over 50 stood up and walked out. Most had an outraged look on their face and a couple tried to protest. She politely but firmly told the couple of protesters that was a firm rule and if they couldn’t accept it, they needed to leave. (Some of the foreign students had an amazed or shocked look on their face as the “students” left.)

    That happened in a major state university, and such examples are common – to the point that many professors get evolution out in the open during the FIRST class, to try to prevent trouble (like that professor did). I observed some pretty bad disruptions in other classes where evolution is a core concept. It’s not fun to sit through and can be even a bit scary (veiled threats in one class).

    I’ve also seen their work while helping to teach a 4000 level course (exit course). They’d interrupt the course whenever something disagreed with the Bible, and when creationism and “Intelligent Design” were mentioned they attacked the professor and the other students who didn’t agree with them (tried to grill my friend and mentor about his religious beliefs and wouldn’t stop, for instance – insisting that he HAD to tell them his personal religious beliefs). The ones that did that also didn’t follow the rules set down in the syllabus and repeated many times during the first few weeks. Their writing was also often atrocious… I’ve only seen one case of word salad since then (on this blog!) that approached the ones I’ve seen… Palin didn’t even come close.

    How they graduated with the (lack of) quality of their work, I don’t know.

    I certainly wouldn’t hire them if I owned a business… but then, I’m not a dominionist and don’t value religious ideology over honesty and doing a good job.

  9. Jindal, and his Christofascist agenda are dangerous. It’s infuriating and tragic there’ll be an entire generation of bible-stupid people funded by taxpayers. I defy anyone to argue dominionists, evangelicals are not imposing theocracy. Where’s the outcry and outrage? Oh yeah, I remember, there’s none. Wrap that little cretin Jindal in a flag with his bible and he epitomizes America’s number one enemy; a conservative christian maniac with power.

  10. If you look at what they’re trying to set up, it’s so that people get just enough “edy-me-cation” so that they can do their job, but not enough so that they know to question or catch their employer in lies. They want “corporate-driven” education… train people in job skills and just that – and I saw this in action in every customer I had when I was in business.

    That’s why Scott was so hostile to Anthropology, because our discipline teaches critical thinking skills and exposes the bullsh*t the conservatives spout. We teach about other cultures, which shakes the foundation of American dominionism to its core (we expose the core lies behind the political/economic side of their beliefs). Many of the students we get today know how to regurgitate facts and pass tests, but they still don’t know how to think (much less critically and logically). The system they’re trying to set up now will tend to repress those skills.

  11. Religions are the original “sheeple – makers”. Governments and corporations have learned this and use it to full advantage! WE are currently living in the Matrix and most do not even realize it. Sad but true…

    It’s time to WAKE UP people!!!

  12. This is horrific. Every single one of these idiots would be screaming in the streets if the religion proposed to be taught was different.
    The damage to our society as whole from this is incalculable.

  13. They will also attend educational meetings held to explain Islam to people and of course, jump in an criticize and condemn and contradict – which as they did to Pagans in the Roman Empire during religious festivals and rituals – is the only reason they are there in the first place

  14. Since I am now the enemy, I do not want one penny of my taxes going to these religious school. Especially since there are no guidelines or requirements for graduation except being far dumber than someone from a real school.

  15. Its okay..republican constituents are their GOP masters’ slaves. Their leaders come first..then their leaders richest corp buddies then their richest constituents. Notice none of this list includes their lower income or middle class constituency. Because as far as they’re concerned YOU DON’T EXIST OR MATTER. YOUR MONEY FOR THE RICH HOWEVER DOES! The RW constituency doesn’t mind not having a decent education for their kids. ITS OKAY FOR THEIR KIDS TO BE STUPID FOR THEIR PARTY AND ENVER ACHIEVE ANYTHING IN LIFE THE WAY THE GOP WANTS IT–SO THEY CAN KEEP THE WEALTH.
    They don’t mind if their kids get sick breathing toxins or eating unchecked food products like EPA & FDA keep in check for us. The RW constituency is ready and willing to let their kids get sick and die and heaven forbid if they could help that child by using the ACA..oh no..We’dr rather let them die. Then when they do they WILL NOT BLAME THEIR PARTY they will blame whatever DEMOCRATIC is the PRES at the timne and blame him/her. Thats how it works. RW can do anything. Notice..had we done any of the things they’ve been doing for 3 years now…which as ruined our credit standing..ruined our standing..ruined so many peoples lives..its okay. ITS THE GOP!

  16. Maybe if I speak in a parlance that the Republican leadership promotes they’ll comprehend …clears throat…

    “Shove it” Gov. Jindal, “kiss my ass” NO federal tax dollars for Louisiana’s bible schools.

    Well, it was worth a try.

  17. wow, I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten in the universities. I haven’t been in college since 1994 (graduate school) and that was a Catholic University. The professor mentioned is a wise woman. Make it clear from the get-go.

  18. I think we’re being a little unfair to these private schools. I graduated from a Bible thumping Presbyterian school. I graduated with 37 people.

    Of those 37 people, all 37 went to university and our combined scholarship offers exceeded $2 million. I was actually offered full scholarships to every university I expressed interest in. My class also had 3 National Merit scholars and our average ACT was above 25, I think it was 27.

    If the schools are like this, then state testing isn’t needed. I think the need for state testing would happen if the school was under performing based on graduation rates and scores.

    Of course, it’s also possible that my school was the exception rather than the rule and that most other schools need this sort of accountability.

    What I really don’t understand is the need for vouchers. After my graduation, my school started a financial aid program for those who had problems paying. They take no money from the state and have no vouchers or anything.

    But again, it’s possible that this is the exception.

    Anyway, I just wanted to offer my perspective. :)

    PS. Even with growing up in the South and going to said Bible belt school, I still managed to be a bleeding heart liberal. :P

  19. Consider:
    Red states are desperately needing to stay red for the GOP vote. Tech companies moving into a state generally bring progressive and therefore Liberal thinking jeopardizing the “redness” of the state. In order for red states to remain red, they must shun high tech business (green jobs and bio tech.) Religion is a perfect motivator for this effort. Low wages and lower education help solidify the “red” classification. Look at a map and compare the red to blue states and then consider where the higher education, and high tech companies are concentrated. There might be a political reasoning behind the seemingly illogical ideology in these red states. Just saying.

  20. My niece went to a religious school, and while she has her doctorate now (from a “Christian” college, but one that has an accredited program), she was fed creationism and other nonsense. Her college – they went on “mission trips” and they told her lies about the structure and situation in the country where she traveled… I know they were lies because I have colleagues who work in that country and they’re always having to fight off the lies – put out by “Good Christians” who want the people dependent on the churches for any form of aid whatsoever.

    I worry about her. She doesn’t know how much bullshit was pumped into her brain… since I’m the “Black Sheep” of the family because I’m poor and don’t accept “Good Christian” bullshit any more… I don’t know much of what goes on or what she believes (my family doesn’t talk with us much). I do know these few things that worry me.

  21. Arrgh… got distracted and submitted without adding my point.

    I was going to say that there are supposed to be some decent Christian schools “out there”, but from my point of view, they’re rare. Maybe you got lucky.

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