My daughter was in grade 9 when the whole “creationist” idea started to become an issue in more than just some backwoods private schools. It was also around that time that Charter Schools started to become popular, and my only experience with the concept was with a group in town. They wanted to ‘provide a nurturing environment with Christianity at the forefront of all teaching” and wished my tax dollars to pay for it. None of the ‘administrators’ or parents had any educational background, and to this point were driving their children from 30 minutes to an hour away to attend a “Bible based” school.
Since the town we lived in had a fairly decent public school system, and a parochial school that shared bus transit, lunch program and many clubs with the other schools – I didn’t see the need to cater to a group of 20 children whose parents were tired of driving and paying for a school towns away. I wasn’t asking the town to take tax dollars to pay for my daughter’s private education – and the kids at the parochial school had their CCD classes on Saturdays and Sundays, much like the kids at the Congregational Church had Sunday school.
The debate raged on, with many bad jokes and misconceptions on all sides. And recently there has been a move to ‘integrate’ creationist theory into the curriculum in many school districts in what is commonly termed “the bible belt”.
The charter application in our little town was denied – and parents either continued to transport their children out of town, or started to ‘homeschool’ their children according to their preferences. I still wonder if any of those children are qualified to do more than marry and have more kids. The parents were an interesting group – most were high school graduates at best, and their ‘prospectus’ that was presented to all who attended was full of typos, monosyllabic words, and a lack of facility with the English language. I don’t hold out tons of hope for those kids.
But – the other day, I was shown a link to a book that is on sale for homeschooling parents – it’s a science text. These are actual photos, a cover shot and an excerpt.
What is MOST disturbing to me is the complete lack of information provided. And misinformation stated as fact. And yet, it is for sale at the big bookseller on the web.
Let’s just start with the obvious bits glaring at me: “All anyone knows is that electricity seems to be everywhere and that there are many ways to bring it forth”. Once my eyes stopped rolling in my head, and I stopped the interior monologue best described as “wtF?” I had the ability to be properly horrified.
No one has seen electricity? I do believe most everyone has seen in in the form of lightning an electrostatic release that you SEE. Observed – anyone who watches a storm has “observed” it … and the millions of people who work as Electrical engineers deal with it daily. Felt it? YOU manage to slip between 2 lines of electric fencing, stand up too soon with one foot in a puddle and tell me you don’t feel it.
So then I began to wonder what else this author has penned: several “inspirational” romance novels (one of which I have read – and I’ve seen far better), a book on real estate transactions, spicing up your marriage within guidelines of faith, and an Austen spinoff. No author page, no information about her ‘qualifications’. And incorrect information passing as fact in a textbook geared to homeschooling notwithstanding; the obvious lack of information supplanted with fable is an injustice to the children she pretends to inform.
America has received scores of approximately 500 on a 1000 point scale: 487 in maths, 500 in reading and 502 in science. In the most recent report (2010) the knowledge and skills of fifteen year olds from 70 countries around the world were compared with this scale. The United states ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in maths.
In NO form or measure should it be acceptable for the United States to condone a generation of C students. But, it appears to be as more school districts are trending toward the ‘inclusion of creationist ‘science’ even at the exclusion of the science of Galileo, Einstein, Curie, Bohr, Edison, Fleming, Schroedinger .. shall I go on?
Perhaps this is trickle down from pop culture – when a Kim K and a sham wedding are more important, athletes on a football team are revered and held up as “role models” and the Real Housewives are rarely ‘real’ and most are NOT wives. Education isn’t cool, schools are overcrowded and underfunded, teachers are asked to provide results without kids having the basics. And let’s be honest – mainstreaming and the removal of “achievement based” class placement where no child is left behind has done just the opposite. Every child is suffering with the need for teachers to teach to the ‘lowest achievers’ in each class, teaching to a test, not to learn the “how” to get the answers. But the answer is NOT to present fiction as fact, as the only fact. Because when that report comes out again next year – and our 15 year olds are tested I can’t see hope for improvement.
And that scares me, almost more than it saddens.