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Yet More Problems With Charter Schools

[ 56 ] March 13, 2013 |

Among the many problems with decentralized charter school systems is that students end up being taught anything that the crazy people who often run them want. Such is the case in Louisiana with its loony state voucher system (presently under court review). The 8th grade history book for some of these schools is teaching an, um, controversial view of history. Take this passage about hippies:

They went to Canada or European countries to escape being drafted into military service.

They went without bathing, wore dirty, ragged, unconventional clothing, and deliberately broke all codes of politeness or manners. Rock music played an important part in the hippie movement and had great influence over the hippies. Many of the rock musicians they followed belonged to Eastern religious cults or practiced Satan worship.

All codes of politeness or manners. Those darned Satan worshipers!!! Clearly, they should have followed the moral guidelines of Louisiana native Jimmy Swaggart.

Other textbooks used in this system have taught such great things as that most slaveowners were real kind to their human property, the KKK was a totally reasonable organization, and lots of other special things that will leave the young people of Louisiana hopelessly clueless about the world.

Of course, it’s not like direct state control is always a wonderful solution so long as non-professional ideologues can take over the system. See Texas with its crazy history textbook ideas. But at least there solving the problem is reasonably straightforward, if difficult. With hundreds of charter school/voucher school systems, these fires can’t be put out.

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  • Warren Terra

    My favorite nugget from the state-purchased Christianist textbooks of Louisiana is the math book that denounced Set Theory as impious and leading to the dark side: as I recall the argument, Set Theory teaches us that some infinite sets (the set of whole numbers, for example) must though infinite be in some way smaller or less dense than other infinite sets (the set of rational numbers, for example). Thus the student is taught that infinity can be exceeded, and will come to doubt the omnipotence of God. QED Set Theory Bad.

    • shah8

      So, can God make a number so big, even he can’t count it?

      • Étienne Tempier

        The omnipotence of God cannot be limited, you damn Thomistic heretic.

        • Francis the Talking Pope

          Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere applicatin of set theory, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.

      • Hogan

        Yes. And then he would count it.

    • JerBL

      I suppose this is a bit of a tangent, but that sort of religiously/politically-motivated math-quackery can get pretty entertaining. Check out the ConservaMath medal, the conservative alternative to the Fields medal (created in response to the “liberal” Fields committee’s decision to award the Fields medal to “an underachieving woman and to a communist-trained mathematician from Vietnam”).

      That quote is from Andy Schlafly, who also has pretty kooky ideas about other areas of math.

      Also, small correction: in order to get different sizes of infinities you need to compare the whole numbers to the reals not the rationals; the rationals are the same type of infinity.

      • Jo

        I thought that too, about the reals vs. the rationals, but noticed that Warren Terra allowed for the fact that they don’t like differing densities either. The conservapedia stuff is super-weird, thanks for the link.

      • Colin Day

        Does his mom know about this? Yes, that mom.

        • sharculese

          I would assume she tries not to think about how he spends his time.

          • That period is, of course, only measurable by transfinite numbers………

            • sharculese

              I don’t understand this joke because I majored in Saying Swears. But I assume it’s funny.

  • We had a charter school before the Planning Board over the past few months. I ended up voting for the project; it was just a site plan review, and their site plan was fine. I did manage to extort squeeze prod appeal to their concern for the public good and get $100 grand for some sidewalks.

    Anyway, the school is going to be run by something called the SABIS Corporation, which is notable for making all of their materials and educational practices restricted intellectual property. So much for the wonders of competition and experimentation improving all schools.

    Somehow, I doubt that the school in Louisiana is going to be as restrained in sharing their ideas.

    • Malaclypse

      SABIS has one very uninformative web site. Long ago, when I was young and naive, I worked for an EMO. I never saw one that kept the curriculum a secret.

    • Jon H

      It’s not a Scientology front, is it?

      (Actually, probably not, if they’re willing to spend $100k on sidewalks.)

  • Many of the rock musicians they followed belonged to Eastern religious cults or practiced Satan worship.

    Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Thank you for Thee Slayer Hippie.

    • sharculese

      Is that a little ascii goatse that pops up when I hover over your links?

  • When I was in junior high and even high school they did not teach the history of hippies. But, then I went to Grinnell college and got to see real hippies up close. I don’t remember any Satan worshiping bands followed by hippies, however. That was something on the very extreme edge of the metal head set. The two had very different tastes in music despite both having long hair.

    • rea

      When I was in junior high and even high school they did not teach the history of hippies.

      When I was in junior high and high school, hippies were taught as Current Events, not History.

      • Try taking hippies in the sciences. The dissection lab was something else.

        • BigHank53

          Oh, you think you had it bad. You weren’t at an Ag school, trying get the little fuckers to breed reliably.

      • DrDick

        Yep and I studied them up close and personal in college.

        • rea

          OMG :)

        • Malaclypse

          You have some beautiful nature pics.

          • DrDick

            Thank you. The joys of living in the northern Rockies. Most of those are within 30 minutes of my apartment and all are within 5 hours. There are, however, bears and, occasionally, mountain lions in town at times, as well as a sizable urban deer herd.

        • herr doktor bimler

          I bet he still wears the same hat.

          • DrDick
            • rea

              Oddly, you bear a strong physical resemblence to a close friend of mine from those days, including the hat. I think we discussed this before–didn’t you and I both go to OU, but not quite at the same time?

              • DrDick

                I believe so. I was there in grad school 1876-1987.

                • DrDick

                  URK! That should be “1976-1987.” Took me long enough as is without exaggerating it.

                • rea

                  You arrived the year after I left. My best friend Chuck, who looked quite like you, overlapped with you (He still looks that way).

                • Colin Day

                  That makes me feel better. :-)

            • Malaclypse

              Her hat is better.

              • DrDick

                Indeed. She is also better looking. She is one of my Ph.D. students.

    • McKingford

      This is a story that’s too good to be made up, as it conflates every cliche about the latte sipping hippie liberalati.

      The #1 radio show in Toronto, by a fair margin, is CBC (our NPR). And for years it was hosted by a guy named Andy Barrie. He retired a couple years ago because of Parkinson’s, but he was a legend, and, obviously, the host of the #1 radio show in Toronto. He came to Canada as a draft dodger.

      So when he retired, there was much fanfare, and he was replaced by a guy named Matt Galloway. Matt Galloway’s father CAME TO TORONTO AS A DRAFT DODGER!

  • sharculese

    Peace, love, and blood for the Lord of Pain.

    • Linnaeus

      the Lord of Pain

      Iuz?

  • Anon21

    It really seems like this is a problem with decentralized education in general, not particular to charter schools. Local school boards can put all kinds of crazy shit in the curriculum, as we’ve seen with the creationism wars. Maybe they won’t have a textbook to back them up (but then again, maybe they will if there are enough crazy school boards), but I have the feeling that that won’t hold them back.

    • I agree, but the charter school phenomenon makes it worse.

      • Cody

        Can you challenge a voucher school’s curriculum?

        Obviously your local school is managed by your local politicians. You have recourse. Not so much in voucher schools. All you can do is change schools, but even with their crazy teaching it may be safer than the public school available that gets 1/10th the funding for twice as many students.

        • daveNYC

          Not sure if having more resources available to make your child stupid is a good thing.

        • Malaclypse

          Can you challenge a voucher school’s curriculum?

          In something like half of charters, the charter contracts with an EMO for curriculum/payroll/finance. And EMOs, contrary to Republican propaganda, are pretty top-down in terms of curriculum development.

  • Hogan

    And that, boys and girls, is how you punch hippies.

  • Malaclypse

    They went without bathing, wore dirty, ragged, unconventional clothing, and deliberately broke all codes of politeness or manners.

    But enough about how Ted Nugent dodged the draft.

  • wengler

    The problem with charter schools is they have no accountability whatsoever. It’s so great that the same people that want to test students to death and label public schools as failing see the solution as totally unaccountable experimental schools.

    • Richard

      Depends where you are talking about. In California, charter schools have to do the same testing of students as public schools do and the results, for both public and charter schools, are made available for anybody to look at. They also have to post records, for high schools, of college admissions for seniors so that their rates can be compared with public schools.
      In Southern California, we dont have a problem with crazy right wing or Christian charter schools and even have some crazy leftist ones (one within a mile from my house teaches kids one of the Mexican indigenous languages (Nahuatl) as a co-primary language with English and Spanish)

      • wengler

        I was speaking generally, but the lack of accountability is only one problem with them. They get to be very selective, unlike public schools, and so can essentially stack themselves with higher achieving students.

        They are also the perfect vehicle for embezzling money and often have very few requirements for teaching.

      • Cody

        I noticed our Charter schools in Fort Wayne are getting closed down due to failing testing scores too many years in a row.

        I was surprised to find out Ball State oversees these places.

  • Sebastian H

    It is too bad that standardized testing is impossible for even an omnipotent god. Because it would be a great way to check up on charter schools.

    • Zifnab

      Question 1): How smelly were the hippies that fled the Glorious American War Against Atheist Communism?
      (a) Smelly
      (b) Very Smelly
      (c) Super Smelly
      (d) Stupid answer that only a dirty hippie would choose

      Question 2): Please consult your teacher for the answer to the following question, as it may vary depending on whether your administrator remembered to tip his local elected officials.

  • Zifnab

    Other textbooks used in this system have taught such great things as that most slaveowners were real kind to their human property, the KKK was a totally reasonable organization, and lots of other special things that will leave the young people of Louisiana hopelessly clueless about the world.

    Sure, you might believe differently. But that’s only because you’ve fallen victim to the horrors of unionized ultra-leftist public education indoctrination.

  • Sly

    Among the many problems with decentralized charter school systems is that students end up being taught anything that the crazy people who often run them want.

    Also in the “it’s feature and not a bug” category, the students who don’t want to be taught by the people who run those schools are somehow, inexplicably and more assuredly without intent, are kept segregated from those they do want to teach.

  • TribalistMeathead

    Wait, that’s the quote that has a bunch of panties in knots? Sounds like something that would’ve appeared in my junior high/high school history textbooks (early to mid 90s).

  • I’m glad Manju finally found some remunerative work.

  • Jon H

    Sounds like something an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church would teach.