Public “charter schools” in Texas lie about evolution and push creationism « Why Evolution Is True

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In a new article at Salon, former fundamentalist Jonny Scaramanga examines some shenanigans around the teaching of evolution in Texas’s charter schools. I wasn’t sure what “charter schools” really were in Texas, but they turn out to to be a form of public school that is more loosely regulated than “regular” public schools (the latter are government schools for you Brits), but which are funded by the state. The Texas Educational Agency explains:

To further promote local initiative, the 1995 revision of the Texas Education Code established a new type of public school, known as a charter school. Charter schools are subject to fewer state laws than other public schools with the idea of ensuring fiscal and academic accountability without undue regulation of instructional methods or pedagogical innovation. Like school districts, charter schools are monitored and accredited by the state.

At any rate, Scaramanga’s piece reports that at iSchool High, a charter school in Houston, students in science classes are reading textbooks containing stuff like this:

[Hitler] has written that the Aryan (German) race would be the leader in all human progress. To accomplish that goal, all “lower races” should either be enslaved or eliminated. Apparently the theory of evolution and its “survival of the fittest” philosophy had taken root in Hitler’s warped mind.

Now we’ll learn in a few hours, when I post about a new book on the history of science, that this is a patent lie: Darwin had virtually no influence on either Hitler, his minions, his racial policy, or his acts of genocide.  Chalk up one more lie told to the kids.

Written By: Jerry Coyne
continue to source article at whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com

20 COMMENTS

  1. At any rate, Scaramanga’s piece reports that at iSchool High, a charter school in Houston, students in science classes are reading textbooks containing stuff like this:

    [Hitler] has written that the Aryan (German) race would be the leader in all human progress. To accomplish that goal, all “lower races” should either be enslaved or eliminated. Apparently the theory of evolution and its “survival of the fittest” philosophy had taken root in Hitler’s warped mind.

    This crap is regularly promoted by AIG..

    Hitler and evolution
    It is sometimes claimed, especially by creationists, that Adolf Hitler was inspired or motivated by a belief in evolutionary theory. The Discovery Institute regularly perpetuates this argument, as do many other creationist groups.

    One aspect of the connection, which can cause confusion, is the generally accepted[citation needed] fact that Hitler’s conception of racial of national struggle and supremacy bore some relationship to social Darwinism, a political theory which can be summed up as[citation needed] “survival of the fittest, applied to people”. Social Darwinism is distinct from the biological theory of evolution, and only loosely connected with Charles Darwin, whom Hitler is not known to have ever mentioned.

    Furthermore, using Hitler’s belief in evolution as an argument against evolutionary science is an example of the logical fallacy of an argument from adverse consequences, suggesting that we should not accept the theory of evolution because it could lead to the kind of racist views perpetuated by Hitler. This is also an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, implying that Hitler’s racist views were inspired directly by a belief in evolution. In fact, even if the connections between the theory of evolution, social Darwinism and the Holocaust can be made, this does not imply that evolution is a dangerous theory, only that Hitler had perverted the theory to justify his beliefs and actions.

    However, it seems that there is at least some evidence to suggest that, far from embracing Darwin’s work and social Darwinism, the Nazis tried to ban them. The 1935 edition of the official Nazi journal for lending libraries, Die Bücherei, contains a list of banned books. One of the entries in this edition of Die Bücherei is “Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel)”

    It seems that having established the perverted Nazi “social Darwinism”, the Nazis banned the original biological version which they called “Primitive Dawinism”! (Echoes of RCC “Theistic evolution”???)

  2. [Hitler] has written that the Aryan (German) race would be the leader in all human progress. To accomplish that goal, all “lower races” should either be enslaved or eliminated. Apparently the theory of evolution and its “survival of the fittest” philosophy had taken root in Hitler’s warped mind.

    what really bugs me about this myth is that no theory of evolution is needed to reach such a conclusion. the concept of race existed before darwin, the concept of higher and lower orders of race certainly existed, no one in the US should dare question that. Slavery was perpetuated by the belief that africans were a lower order. they managed to reach that conclusion without having to disturb any field biologists

    also, the very concept of genocide is anti-darwinian (if we were to stretch the term to have some sort of moral value), it is due to fear of the “fittest” (the ones who are taking over resources at the expense of the others who wish to preserve them). You want to create a master race using nerve gas, the correct way is to put everyone in and keep those who survive to continue breeding. hitler’s genocide was an example of “survival of the ones with guns”, and to make any darwinian connection is a bit anti-semitic (i.e. they died because they were less fit, not because they were rounded up and murdered)

    • In reply to #2 by SaganTheCat:

      [Hitler] has written that the Aryan (German) race would be the leader in all human progress. To accomplish that goal, all “lower races” should either be enslaved or eliminated. … the concept of race existed before darwin, the concept of higher and lower orders of race certainly existed, no one in the US should dare question that. Slavery was perpetuated by the belief that africans were a lower order.

      Indeed, the concept of racial superiority existed waay before Darwin and even way before the enslavement of African natives by the European nations. The Greeks were convinced (even smart, moral men like Socrates or Plato) than slavery was acceptable because “uneducated slaves are clearly inferior to us sophisticated Greeks”.

      Ignorance of history and distortion of historical facts is one of the most common recurring themes in the rhetoric of fundamentalists. The spreading of ignorance is the modus operandi of the ignorant. Sort of like a self-replicating virus that devours everything that’s good and useful and leaves only putrid excrement behind. These charter schools are unconstitutional to begin with and should be eliminated. They are a festering boil on the face of the US education system.

    • In reply to #4 by bluebird:

      push creationism

      Breech.

      AKA, touching cloth?

      What has Hitler got to do with Science anyway. Like it or not, Evolution, Natural Selection, are facts. Like Ebola, or the destructive power of nuclear fission, as witnessed by 200,000 cheering Japanese civilians.

  3. what has occurred is that politicians have given special exemption from testing and measurement of student achievement because (are you ready for this?) the politicians have financial stake in the charter schools. They divert funds and students from the public schools and “educate” them in an unregulated and unmeasured manner. hey skirt all he LAWS that they themselves have put in place that hold the public schools hostage.

    You want taxes to go down? Let public school teachers educate their students properly. Remove the bullshit. Allow districts to expel drug dealers and gun toters. Allow kids to FAIL again. (Oh, you didn’t know that?) Failure is obsolete. Don’t even get me started!!!

    Stop worrying about self esteem and social status of the kids. Self esteem comes along with accomplishment. Raise the bar so that they are proud of their accomplishments. Stop lowering it. They respond by doing less and less and less…

    • In reply to #5 by crookedshoes:

      Stop worrying about self esteem and social status of the kids. Self esteem comes along with accomplishment. Raise the bar so that they are proud of their accomplishments. Stop lowering it. They respond by doing less and less and less…

      Couldn’t agree more. Stop giving medals and awards to kids BEFORE they accomplish anything. If one gets an award whether or not he/she deserves it or has worked for it, then what is that award worth? This idea short-circuits the whole idea of recompense by making it null and void and robbing it of all value.

  4. [Hitler] has written that the Aryan (German) race would be the leader in all human progress. To accomplish that goal, all “lower races” should have bombs dropped on them. Apparently the theory of gravity and its “things dropping” philosophy had taken root in Hitler’s warped mind.

  5. I was looking for these and I suspect others might be interested in seeing the exemptions for open enrollment Texas charter schools:

    Exemptions that Apply to Open Enrollment Charter Schools
     

    Open enrollment charter schools are exempt from many of the requirements that public schools must meet. 
    Charter schools are exempt from the following:  
     

    The charter describes the manner in which an annual financial audit is conducted, rather than 
    requirements that exist for school districts. 
     

    Site based decision making committees and the formulation of campus improvement plans are not 
    required as campus performance objectives are stated in the charter. 
     

    Charters are not required to employ certified teachers, except in cases of special education and bilingual 
    education. 
     

    Charters are only partially subject to curriculum requirements.
     

    Charters are exempt from disciplinary provisions of Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code (TEC), as they 
    design their own discipline policies. 
     

    Charter schools are exempt from the salary provisions in the TEC and may set their own salaries for 
    professional employees. 
     

    Charter schools are not required to offer prekindergarten. 
     

    Charters are only subject to student teacher ratios or class size limitations contained in their charter. 
     

    Calendars and hours of operation are determined by the charter. No minimum days of attendance exist; 
    however funding is linked to days of attendance. 
     

    Charters do not have to comply with the “Ninety Percent Rule” that prohibits districts from giving a 
    student credit for a class unless the student is in attendance for 90 percent of the days the class is offered. 
     

    Charter schools may deny enrollment to students with a criminal record or discipline problems if the 
    charter allows for such an admission criteria. 

    And this from the education code concerning establishing charter schools:

    This chapter may not be applied in a manner that unduly regulates the instructional methods or
    pedagogical innovations of charter schools.

    But the same document says students at charter schools aren’t exempt from assessment testing.

    [continuation of the charter is contingent on] … acceptable student performance on assessment
    instruments adopted under Subchapter B, Chapter 39;

    which states among other things:

    The agency shall adopt or develop appropriate
    criterion-referenced assessment instruments designed to assess
    essential knowledge and skills in reading, writing, mathematics,
    social studies, and science.

    If I understand that correctly I’d like to know how they get around it.

    exemptions

    Education Code Charters

    Education Code Accountability

    • In reply to #10 by Sean_W:

      I was looking for these and I suspect others might be interested in seeing the exemptions for open enrollment Texas charter schools:

      Exemptions that Apply to Open Enrollment Charter Schools
       

      Open enrollment charter schools are exempt from many of the requirements that public schools must meet. 

      Knowing all this, how could anyone send their kids to a Charter School? You’d have to be mad!

    • SeanW,
      Your research is great. The last part where you say:

      But the same document says students at charter schools aren’t exempt from assessment testing.
      which states among other things:
      The agency shall adopt or develop appropriate criterion-referenced assessment instruments designed to assess essential knowledge and skills in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science.

      If I understand that correctly I’d like to know how they get around it.

      Here’s the deal. I as a Biology teacher am responsible to get my students ready for a state developed test of which I have a very nebulous idea of what will be on it. I cannot teach to the test, as i do not know what they will ask my kids. I am fine with that, we teach Biology and if the state wants to test it, so be it.

      However, read the language, the Charter school can DEVELOP THEIR OWN TEST. The playing field is so so so not level that it is an absolute sham. They get to decide what is on the test and what is “appropriate levels of knowledge.” So, not only can they write a simple test, but then they can arbitrarily set the bar so low that most of their kids pass. Pretty impressive, no?

  6. Comment 5: Thanks for that information crookedshoes.

    We in England have the same infuriating situation developing with “Free” schools; free to set their own curriculums and to be funded by the state. NB: me, the tax payer.

    One’s already had to be closed down for among other things obliging female pupils and staff to wear head scarves and sitting girl students at the back of the class. No prizes for working out what kind of an institution it is.

    The lie about transitional fossils is so blatant and they repeat it so often that I’m amazed they get away with it.

    The trouble is that this Free school policy, like so many other schemes, is the crackpot pet project of a politician who wants it to succeed at all costs, so won’t criticize it himself or brook any criticism from others.

    And of course creationists are colonizing the niches provided by these “schools” and jeopardizing childrens’ education; it’s the kind of madness that only blind faith can induce; and whence stems blind faith?

  7. @labman #3

    “Charter Schools” sound exactly like the UK Free Schools. The freedom implied in the title “Free Schools” seems to be a hedge to create schools that can easily replace “religious” schools. Then if the pressure to get rid of the latter becomes too strong, the government can ban religious schools, safe in the knowledge that the Free Schools will do the same indoctrination thing. The difference is that “parental choice” is more subtly sustained. (Parental choice being the means by which strongly believed stupidities can be transmitted down the generations.)

  8. BTW, parents get duped into sending their kids to a charter school because the papers publish how the local school is “failing” Annual progress and the charter school gets to boast that 90% of their kids are passing a “test”. The charter school robs kids and tax dollars from the local tax base and then the politicians who have financial stake in the profits of the charter school, line their pockets with money that is earned on the felony they are committing upon these children’s futures.

    Teachers are not certified, not paid well, not unionized and they are hard working people, doing their best, but they are being lowballed and ripped off and the surplus goes to the “stake holders” — the politicians included. Any actual scrutiny at all would blow this bullshit up, but the politicians are playing smoke and mirrors by creating other “topics” that they manufacture news with. Absolute CRIMINALS. Both sides of the “isle”….

    • Sorry, but parents absolutely do not get duped. They are fully aware of what these schools are doing. This is a way (I’m thinking of the Harmony Schools in particular) for parents to ensure a close-minded Islamic education on the taxpayer’s dime. In reply to #16 by crookedshoes:

      BTW, parents get duped into sending their kids to a charter school because the papers publish how the local school is “failing” Annual progress and the charter school gets to boast that 90% of their kids are passing a “test”. The charter school robs kids and tax dollars from the local tax base and…

      • You may be right for the majority of parents, but these Charter schools also spring up in urban areas and inner cities where the public schools have been taken hostage by the repugnant behavior of the drug dealers and gun toters and the even more repugnant laws that have been enacted to protect them and their “right” to an education that they are busy shitting away. We cannot get rid of these kids. many are over 18 years old but have been issued an IEP that legally binds the districts to “educate” them until they are 21!!!!

        They fight to stay in schools because then their parent gets to keep receiving their SSI payment from the government (as long as they are still “students”) and they get to keep selling poison to the rest of the kids. When you call home they hang up on you. Your emails home bounce back. The parents have no interest in anything other than collecting money and keeping the kid out of their own house. Many of these kids get kicked out of their own houses and live on the streets or on friend’s couches and the parents continue to get and ACCEPT the benefit. no wonder it doesn’t work. It couldn’t possibly!

        This set of conditions has the good folks that live in this deplorable situation (and there are many of them) looking for viable alternatives. So, instead of the politicians stepping up for these good folks by doing their fucking jobs and enacting laws that cause kids who egregiously exceed the limits of behavior tolerable in a school and cutting benefits to fraudulent criminals, the politicians have found a way to earn money and votes at the same time. It is a crime on many levels.

        In reply to #19 by ljparris:

        Sorry, but parents absolutely do not get duped. They are fully aware of what these schools are doing. This is a way (I’m thinking of the Harmony Schools in particular) for parents to ensure a close-minded Islamic education on the taxpayer’s dime. In reply to #16 by crookedshoes:

        BTW, parents get du…

  9. My district has the best program in the area for mentally retarded children. Consequently, neighboring districts send their mentally retarded kids to us. Then when we are “standardized tested”, our “population” scores lower than it “should” and we lose funding as a result. Of course they score lower on a test than their peers — that is the definition of mentally retarded, they are developmentally behind their peers.

    And, cutting funding to schools that underperform? Shouldn’t they HELP those schools? Christ what a cluster fuck. But as long as THEY are making money and can send their kids to private school…. well…. you be the judge.

  10. Unfortunately, New Zealand is about to start down the “charter schools” path, even though it has been shown as a complete failure everywhere it has been attempted. While I don’t think it will be quite as bad as Texas (NZers being a bit more laid-back and less concerned with religion in general), it does concern me somewhat. I need to do a bit more digging with regard to what the charter schools can and can’t get away with.

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