It’s time to do a little Louisiana educational potpourri. There are simply too many acts of stupidity being done by people who run religious and charter schools in the state, and one of them is so stupid that it’s probably illegal.
I’m not throwing the word “stupid” around casually. I’m talking about some real, honest to God, poor decisions and worthless statements coming out of the state.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the “prophet” who runs a charter school and the biology textbook that teaches the Loch Ness monster is real. But did you know about the character school conducting a witch hunt for and expelling girls “suspected” of being pregnant? Yeah, that last one caught the eye of the ACLU….
I’m going to let you in on a secret: I kinda, sorta, support school vouchers. I know that’s a horrible thing for a liberal to say, but some of our public schools are in such bad shape that I support putting a little public money into the hands of people with alternative and potentially productive ideas about education.
The problem with vouchers is when people who seem to be charlatans get their hands on the money, and good people refuse to call them out. The case of Leonard Lucas has been in the news. He’s a self-proclaimed prophet and… well, really do I have to say any more about the guy to explain why he shouldn’t get state funds to run a school? Here’s a description about the school from his own website (hat tip: Cenlamar):
The Light City Church School of the Prophets is a training institute for those who sense the flow and pull of the prophetic upon their lives. The mandate of the school of the Prophets just as it was in the Old Testament days is to train men and women effectively in the prophetic. It is a time of proper training, mentoring, and developing of the spirit in the prophetic realm. It is a time that you are taught how to hear from God, how to speak the mind of God, and how to nurture the gift of prophecy.
This man is getting $700,000 of public money. Yay small government.
Of course, there’s nothing illegal about being a whack job. There’s also nothing illegal about being a complete moron. From the Washington Post:
A biology textbook used by a Christian school in Louisiana that will be accepting students with publicly funded vouchers in the fall says that the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland is real. And it isn’t just any monster but a dinosaur — an effort to debunk evolution and bolster creationist theory.
If you believe in the Loch Ness monster you are a freaking idiot. This is not something reasonable people can disagree on. It’s not a question for further debate. Believing in that thing marks you as a person who can not logically process information as well as the rest of us. Sorry.
It took me a while to figure out how believing in something for which there is no evidence makes people question things for which there is plenty of evidence. And then I remembered that most of organized religion relies on this very reality.
Again, while incredibly stupid, if you want your kids to believe they are the prophets of the Loch Ness, so be it. Nobody has a constitutional right to be informed.
People do have a constitutional right to keep people receiving public funds from snooping around their wombs, however. One charter school’s method for dealing with teen pregnancy is to force girls to take pregnancy tests and expel the offenders. From the student handbook at Delhi Charter School:
If an administrator or teacher suspects a student is pregnant, a parent conference will be held. The school reserves the right to require any female student to take a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not the suspected student is in fact pregnant. The school further reserves the right to refer the suspected student to a physician of its choice. If the test indicates that the student is pregnant, the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School.
If a student is determined to be pregnant and wishes to continue to attend Delhi Charter School, the student will be required to pursue a course of home study that will be provided by the school…Any student who is suspected of being pregnant and who refuses to submit to a pregnancy test shall be treated as a pregnant student and will be offered home study opportunities. If home study opportunities are not acceptable, the student will be counseled to seek other educational opportunities.
If only there were some kind of medication that a girl could take that would prevent this kind of thing from happening, I’m sure a school like Delhi would make sure all of their girls were well informed about that medical miracle and they would do everything to make sure their charges had access to the magic birth stopping beans (working title).
The ACLU is not impressed. From ThinkProgress:
The American Civil Liberties Union points out that Dehli Charter School’s discriminatory policy for pregnant students is “in blatant violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution.”
Yes. But this is the problem with charter schools. Republicans could get broad, bipartisan support for these things if we could just agree on some minimum standards before public money is used.
Standard 1: Policies must not be blatantly unconstitutional.
Standard 2: Policies must not invoke: monsters, demons, prophets, angels, vampires, witches, mermaids, or other things that are flagrantly untrue.
Standard 3: Screw it, policies must be independently approved by at least one person who isn’t from Louisiana.