The fight over what belongs in a science textbook has been going on for decades. But a new study has revealed just how prolific scientific misinformation is in publicly-funded schools in the U.S.
The study suggests textbooks that miseducate students about evolution and climate change are rampant in private schools that receive public funding through voucher or tax-credit schemes.
Incidentally, these are the very same private school choice programs Secretary of Education Betsy Devos has been championing all year.
The root of the problem is this: Because the institutions that receive money from these programs are private, they are allowed to teach anything they want with those tax-payer dollars. Even if it is wholly unscientific.
In an in-depth article for the Huffington Post, reporter Rebecca Klein explains her research on evangelical curricula.
"It is difficult to ascertain exactly how many students use taxpayer funds to attend schools with evangelical curricula," writes Klein, "but we do know that over 400,000 students nationwide currently attend school using money from a voucher or tax credit program, according to the education reform group EdChoice."
Klein and her team focused their research on Christian, non-Catholic schools that receive taxpayer dollars - there's already a large body of research on Catholic schools. These schools represent around 42 percent of the 8,000-some institutions in public funding programs.
The research reveals 32 percent of non-Catholic Christian schools use Abeka, Bob Jones or Accelerate Christian Education (ACE) textbooks in at least one subject or grade.
And, according to Klein, "The ideas in these textbooks often flout widely accepted science and historical fact."
Here's a little taster of the unscientific nonsense these textbooks spew.
In the Abeka textbook, not only is human-caused climate change denied, "radical environmentalists" are accused of worshipping the environment and presenting "mankind as the enemy of nature."
The textbook seems to be suggesting environmentalists have ulterior motives, and to Southern Methodist University history Professor Edward F. Countryman, that's not factual, "That's party propaganda."
But the best part is when the Abeka textbook claims Satan created science and psychology to confuse worshippers of God.
That's right - a student textbook legitimately argues Satan was responsible for "the ideas of evolution, socialism, Marxi-socialism (Communism), progressive education, and modern psychology."
No pun intended, but what the hell?
Meanwhile, the other textbooks aren't much better. A passage on evolution from an ACE textbook reads:
"Not only is evolution untrue Scripturally, but it does not even make good science. The theory of evolution has no real scientific basis, and even Darwin himself expressed doubts as to its veracity."
Of all three controversial textbooks, the findings reveal Abeka is the most popular (used in about 27 percent of these schools) and ACE is the least popular (used in about 5 percent of these schools).
The lack of scientific understanding among our schoolchildren isn't all that surprising when American taxpayer dollars are being used to prop up such inaccurate curricula.