Twelve days ago anti-creationism activist Zack Kopplin wrote a long piece for Slate about how Texas’s “charter schools” (special schools that are supported by state money), particularly those using the Responsive Education Solutions system, are openly teaching not only creationism (using, of course, materials provided by Responsive Ed), but a grossly distorted right-wing view of history. Have a look at that article to see some egregious examples; suffice it to say these schools teach lies to 17,000 students in 65 schools, and get about $82 million in taxpayer money.
It is, of course, illegal to teach creationism in public schools, for it violates the First Amendment mandating the separation of church and state. Court after court has supported this stand, but the schools persist simply because bringing a court case requires a student and his/her parent to complain to a legal organization such as the ACLU or the Freedom from Religion foundation. And to do that in a place like Texas makes you a pariah.
Now Slate has published a complementary map showing where in the U.S. publicly-funded schools either teach creationism or are permitted by law to do so. Each dot on the map below represents one such school, and the map at the Slate site is interactive, so you can place your mouse over the dot and identify the school. Note that both Tennessee and Louisiana are ridden with such schools (the color of the dots represents the type of funding supporting creationism; green represents places where teaching creationism of some sort is legal). In Louisiana, for example, they have a law allowing teachers to use supplementary materials to analyze and criticize “controversial” science like evolution and global warming, and Tennessee likewise has a “teach the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories” law.
The many green dots in Louisiana and Tennesee are mostly just regular high schools (there are more), and many don’t teach creationism, so this is a bit of an exaggeration. In Texas, however, the red dots are Responsive Ed schools that can and do teach creationism. The orange dots in other places are largely Christian schools that are publicly funded and do teach creationism:
Note that Ohio, Indiana, and Florida are rife with creationism taught at taxpayer expense. As we learned this year, Indiana, at least, is a hotbed of religious conservatism. Note as well that the number of dots surely underestimate of the number of schools teaching students lies about science, since many schools may not have been investigated. Finally, realize that every single one of the red and orange dots, and perhaps many of the green ones, is a school that violates the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps you’re a parent of a student attending one of these schools, which would entitle you to file a lawsuit. Check it out on the map at Slate if you’re interested.
Here’s the roll of shame, taken directly from the Slate piece. (And thanks to the many readers who brought this to my attention.)
Arkansas: Responsive Education Solutions operates two campuses in Arkansas that use creationist curricula. (See Texas.)
Florida: At least 164 schools teach creationism while participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship programs for disabled children and children from low-income families.
Georgia: At least 34 schools teach creationism while participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship program for disabled children.
Louisiana: The Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008 allows teachers to use “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner,” specifically theories regarding “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning”—in effect, allowing creationist material inside classroom. It’s no coincidence that the Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank that provides such “supplemental textbooks,” helped write the bill, which the American Association for the Advancement of Science described as an “assault against scientific integrity.”
Tennessee: A 2012 state law, like Louisiana’s, permits public school teachers to teach the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of theories that can “cause controversy,” specifically citing evolution, global warming, and cloning, thereby providing legal cover for teachers who want to forward creationist pseudoscience.
Texas: The state’s largest charter program, Responsive Ed, receives $82 million in taxpayer money each year, but that hasn’t stopped its schools from adopting a creationist curriculum that seriously misrepresents the science of evolution. These materials wrongly portray the fossil record and the age of Earth as scientifically controversial, assert that there is a lack of “transitional fossils,” and claim evolution is untestable.
Utah: At least five schools teach creationism while participating in a tax-credit scholarship program for disabled children.
Wisconsin: At least 15 schools teach creationism while participating in a Milwaukee or Racine voucher programs.