Religion

Publicly funded private schools in Florida teach that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark

A new report reveals that some private schools in Florida that receive public funding are teaching curriculums that say humans and dinosaurs co-existed, that God intervened to prevent Catholics from dominating North America, and that slaves who accepted Christianity were actually better off than free people who weren’t Christians.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, around 2,000 schools that “accept, and often depend on” nearly $1 billion in state scholarships, or vouchers, are utilizing pseudo-scientific and pseudo-histiorical lessons in textbooks from Christian publishers. As part of their investigation, the Sentinel asked educators from various Florida colleges and school districts to review teaching materials from these publishers and evaluate their educational veracity.

They found numerous instances of distorted history and science lessons that are outside mainstream academics. The books denounce evolution as untrue, for example, and one shows a cartoon of men and dinosaurs together, telling students the biblical Noah likely brought baby dinosaurs onto his ark. The science books, they added, seem to discourage students from doing experiments or even asking questions.

According to one of the educators tasked by the Sentinel to review the material, students who are educated under these standards “are not prepared for college experiences.”

“They would be intellectually disadvantaged,” said Cynthia Bayer, who is a biology lecturer at the University of Central Florida.

The review found that social studies books published by the Christian companies diminished the horrors of the slave trade and past genocides against Native America people. One section of a textbook reportedly said that “most black and white southerners had long lived together in harmony” before the civil rights movement and that civil rights leaders who were “power hungry” only “stirred up the people.”

The books are rife with religious and political opinions on topics such as abortion, gay rights and the Endangered Species Act, which one labels a “radical social agenda.” They disparage religions other than Protestant Christianity and cultures other than those descended from white Europeans. Experts said that was particularly worrisome given that about 60 percent of scholarship students are black or Hispanic.

The scholarships that private schools may use to purchase these academic materials are paid for either directly by the state or with tax credits – money diverted from the state budget by corporations that make scholarship donations and then write off an equivalent amount from their state tax bills. The scholarships are available to students from low-income families or to those with disabilities, and their parents are free to enroll them in any private school that accepts the state-backed vouchers.

The Florida Department of Education is prohibited by law to monitor the curriculum taught to students who use state vouchers for private schools.

According to the educators speaking to the Sentinel, there was “little to demand students think critically” in the Christian textbooks. Additionally, the educators found that social studies textbooks put out by the publishers in question sought to portray American history from “God’s point of view.”

Among the most alarming things discovered by the educators was one particular workbook’s claim that Noah took baby dinosaurs into the Ark. The same book also posits that the Loch Ness Monster was actually a living dinosaur, furthering the humans-dinosaurs co-existence narrative.

“That was just plain-old, misguided, bad, horrible science, talking about dinosaurs and humans living together,” said high school science teacher Brandon Haught.

You can read the Sentinel’s full report here.

Featured image via frowzivitch 

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