Texas students in publicly funded charter schools run by Responsive Education Solutions are learning that, “in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth,” as well as that feminism is responsible for single women turning to the federal government as “surrogate husband[s].”
According to Zack Kopplin at Slate, Responsive Education Solutions has been “infiltrating and subverting” the charter school movement in order to push an explicitly Christian, conservative agenda.
Responsive Education Solutions has 17,000 students, more than 65 schools, and receives $82 million in public funding annually.
Kopplin acquired workbook for the school’s biology “Knowledge Unit,” which shares a first sentence with the King James Bible: “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
The material that followed was equally misleading, including sections that claim that scientists “question the validity of the conclusions concerning the age of Earth.” The biology workbook is replete with other creationist arguments against evolutionary theory, including that there is no experimental data to back it; that transitional fossils which should exist, don’t; and that the theory can be directly linked to the rise of eugenics in Nazi Germany.
The book manufactures doubt where none should exist, and it does so deliberately. Rosalinda Gonalez, Response Education Solution’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, told Kopplin that the workbook “teaches evolution, noting, but not exploring, the existence of competing theories.”
However, even merely “noting” the existence of non-scientific “competing theories” was held to be unconstitutional by Edwards v. Aguillard.
The “Knowledge Units” pertaining to history are similarly problematic, only instead of pushing creation science on unwitting students, they showcase a version of history that contains a distinctly conservative ideological bias.
They claim that the First World War is the result of “the abandoning of religious standards of conduct” that began with the Enlightenment. The New Deal “ushered in a new era of dependency on the Federal government,” and feminism created a class of women who “lacked male financial support and who had to turn to the state as a surrogate husband.”
According to Kopplin, its explicitly moral components refer not to civic virtues, but to “values” borrowed whole-cloth — and without citation — from the website of Bill Gothard, a minister whose demands his followers incorporate “biblical principles” into daily life.
One significant problem with crypto-Christian charter schools operating in Texas is that the state only allows for 300 charter schools to operate at any one time. This means that these stealth-creationist, conservative outfits are preventing legitimately innovative charter schools from opening in the state.
Kopplin calls this “a moment of truth for the charter movement and for Texas politicians. Will they support removing from charter programs these schools that break the law?”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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