A number of news outlets are seizing upon some silly claims, purportedly made by a Christian textbook, about the Loch Ness monster, in order to cast Louisiana’s monumental school choice law in a negative light.
“A biology textbook used by a Christian school in Louisiana that will be accepting students with publicly funded vouchers in the fall says that the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland is real,” the Washington Post reported last week. “And it isn’t just any monster but a dinosaur — an effort to debunk evolution and bolster creationist theory.”
According to the Post, the Biology 1099 edition makes the following claim:
“Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”
This is troubling, the Post says, because schools using such curriculum could soon receive state money.
“The reason all of this matters now to the public is that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal recently signed a law that sets up the largest voucher program of any state in the country,” the Post contends. “Some 125 private and religious schools from across the state are qualified to participate in the Louisiana Believes program, which gives families public money to pay school tuition for their children.”
And obviously, the newspaper seems to imply, we can’t allow children to be exposed to such silly statements.
But hold on.
First, state money isn’t going to religious schools — at least, not directly. Critics seem to have missed this important detail. Vouchers go to parents — and they then choose where to send their children to school.
If they decide to send their child to a private Christian school that teaches evolution is false, that’s their choice. Sure, the education establishment will harrumph, but the education establishment was against the vouchers program to begin with. It knew its monopoly on the state’s poor children was at stake.
And can anyone argue that those children won’t be getting a better education than they’d receive in some of the state’s worst schools? Jindal didn’t get such sweeping reform passed because the state schools were succeeding.
Look at the Post’s conclusions about the program:
“The state is sending millions of tax dollars that would have gone to public schools that need it to private schools run by church leaders, businessmen and others — with no initial effort to find out whether the schools are any good or not,” the Post says. “This is where support of vouchers is leading us — to the public paying for a child to learn that the Loch Ness Monster was a dinosaur and co-existed with humans… If people want to believe this and they want their children to learn it in school, that’s fine. The public shouldn’t have to pay for it.”
That’s true; the “quality” of the schools was not determined by the state before they were accepted into the program. But that’s the genius of it; parents will determine quality, and their ability to change schools if they’re not satisfied will be a more powerful incentive to the schools than anything the state can impose.
And lest we forget, the “public” is already paying to have Louisiana’s children learn some pretty silly things; from politically correct history to radical environmentalism, public schools are already preaching fire and brimstone to a captive audience.
They’re just upset someone has a more appealing message.