Is Our Children Learning?

« August 2005 »

Here's a fun little fact. Did you know, that in over 300 school districts, in 37 states, American public school students are being taught:

  • Creationism. And not watered-down Intelligent Design, either. Full-on Christian creationism.
  • That the Bible has been upheld by archaeological fact 100% of the time.
  • That NASA has proven the sun stopped for two days, just like in the Bible.
  • The Bible is America's "founding document"

Yeah, neither did I. And this is the kind of thing I like to know about, because it is, in the vernacular of this column, JUMPING FUCKETY DUMB.

How do they get away with it? Well, aside from the current political climate, the class is an OPTIONAL Bible study course. You can have optional Bible study courses in the public schools, because they're optional, and because they are ostensibly supposed to be a cultural and historical study of the Bible.

Now, you leave a loophole like that in place, and you guarantee the Jesus-freaks are gonna jam a big old cross in there and pry that fucker wide open. And that's just what the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools did. They developed a curriculum that could kindly be described as "a bit heavy on the psychojesus", trained up teachers, and got their curriculum taught all over the country. Including, most recently, Odessa, Texas.

Now, the separation of church and state is a thorny issue, with room in the middle for a nice, well-groomed gray area. That said, I think a handy guideline would be this:

If, when your school board approves a policy, the audience is reported to have "dropped to their knees in prayerful thanks that God would be returned to the classroom" (New York Times), then you should probably be very, very fucking concerned.

I mean, admittedly, I live in the Upper Midwest, a fairly reserved area when it comes to godly apoplexy, but I have never seen anybody spontaneously drop to their knees in prayer before. Not in the supermarket, when pork roasts are buy one, get one free. Not on the sidewalk, when the light changes just as people reach the corner to cross. So I suspect that even in Texas, the fervor threshold required to trigger kneeling hallelujahs in the public space is high enough to make sane people worried.

And the Texas Freedom Network was worried. They put out a warning about the curriculum, including the above bulleted details, and were immediately branded a "far-left" extremist organization by the acronymically-challenged NCBSPS. Which cracks me up. First, the Texas Freedom Network supports Bible study in schools, which, as a member of the far left, is not the kind of thing we generally approve of. And second, they're named the TEXAS FREEDOM NETWORK. That's not the way lefties name things. That name is one "family" away from thinking these Bible courses are TOO SECULAR.

To give you an idea of the rigor involved in this curriculum, allow me to present two of its sources, as tracked down by the TFN. The first is a scientist who has also claimed he's read Jesus' school records in India, and that the Giza Pyramid was used to transmit radio messages to the Grand Canyon in ancient times. In other words, someone COMPLETELY BUGFUCK. So bugfuck Alan Keyes read his paper and reportedly exclaimed "Damn, that guy's CRAZY."

The other source was Microsoft Encarta 2001, which these nuts apparently lifted entire huge chunks from. Which is just fucking sad. I'm no expert on education, but I'm guessing it's a bad idea to base your class on something that came bundled with the Compaq Pentium 3 in your church's basement. Even if the information is correct, it's the kind of thing you'd expect the C student in the class to pull, not the organization responsible for the course.

As our glorious leader pointed out, rarely is the question asked: "Is our children learning?" And even more rarely asked is the followup - what the FUCK is our children learning?