Louisiana Vouchers Pay For Teaching Students About Nessie the Evolution-Debunking Plesiosaur
This week, in “News That Sounds Like an Onion Article,” The Scotsman reports that a publicly funded Christian school in Louisiana uses a biology textbook that states that the Loch Ness monster is a real-life evolution-debunking plesiosaur. Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, which accepts taxpayer-funded vouchers, is not the only school using an Accelerated Christian Education textbook; researcher Bruce Wilson estimates that 200,000 children use this and similar textbooks intended for a fundamentalist Christian education.
The ACE Biology textbook, edition 1099, has a lot to say about dinosaurs. Unnamed “scientists” are “becoming more convinced of their existence.” The book states matter-of-factly, “Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.” Their evidence for Nessie? She’s been “recorded on sonar, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others.” The textbook also notes that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur.
Thanks to a recent bill signed by Governor Bobby Jindal, large sums of public education funds are being funneled into student private school vouchers. Louisiana lawmakers have balked at extending vouchers to Islamic schools, and a majority of schools receiving funds are Christian. A number of sectarian private schools that teach religious beliefs (and ignore well-established scientific fact when the two conflict) are included in this group.
Unsurprisingly, the ACE curriculum is especially hostile to the theory of evolution, noting that the “gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis,” because “God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals.”
If the Loch Ness Monster is a dinosaur that co-exists with humans, the thought process goes, it would be a great boon to the Young Earth Creationists’ belief that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark fewer than ten thousand years ago. Evolution would then be incorrect in stating that dinosaurs have long been extinct.
Nessie’s existence is unsupported by current science, but ACE is willing to throw science under the bus in the interest of maintaining a fundamentalist belief system. This means that Louisiana taxpayer funds are being spent on an education that, as the principal of Eternity Christian Academy, Marie Carrier, says, “stays away from all those things that might confuse our children.”
Parents have always been able to pay to have their children taught in private schools that support their belief system. If a family that embraces creationism or identifies as Muslim chooses to homeschool their children or sends them to a private school, then there’s no issue. But a school that receives public funds must, without special treatment, be held to public standards, one of which is an accurate scientific education. That excludes Nessie.
Teaching that the Loch Ness Monster is real would almost be funny if many children were not being misled by scientifically unsupported information and valuable public funds were not funding explicitly religious pseudoscience.
It’s not uncommon to hear conservative politicians call the separation of church and state a “myth,” but when mythical beasts are taught as fact… perhaps some myth-busting is in order.