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Wisconsin Taxpayers Need To Be More Concerned About Science Standards In Voucher Schools

November 10, 2013

There is no doubt as the retrospectives start in earnest concerning the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy that it will be demonstrated how important not only setting a national agenda is for our future, but also why we must have the ability to reach any goal.

It was a most audacious statement for Kennedy to make in 1961 that we were going to the moon, and creating weather satellites.  Aiming to show the world that we were the leader in science, he staked our national prestige on the line.  When Kennedy made that speech this nation had no means of actually getting to the moon, as the rockets were not even yet designed.  But we used our talent and skills to achieve the result that is still a lesson from which we can learn.

Meanwhile Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal had a front page story about Madison’s first voucher school, and as I read it there was nothing I could grasp at that allowed me to view this concept as a worthy one in Dane County.  While the school seems interested with instilling the idea people be kind to one another I recall from being a kid that virtue was something parents taught at home.  School for me as a kid was about big ideas and new ways of thinking about the world.

It concerned me greatly (though did not surprise me) that Lighthouse Christian School in Madison highlighted creationism while treating evolution with suspicion and even derision.  While the rest of the world is moving at a faster pace and with better results when teaching math and real science so to better move their nations forward and create healthier economies, many in America seem content with willfully falling behind.

Evolution is just one of those core concepts that can not be air-brushed away simply because someone who claims to be a science teacher does not believe it to be true.  Science education is not something that can be glossed over and deemed unimportant simply because it does not mesh with someone’s need to claim their religious text is literally true.  That is why public schools are important for kids to attend Monday-Friday.  Parents who want their children to have religious studies can do that on Friday/Saturday/Sunday.  Personally, I have never felt that there needs to be chasm between being a believer in God and also aware of what science has demonstrated as evidence for evolution.

Wisconsin taxpayers should not be paying for vouchers for any school that does not meet certain educational standards, and I feel strongly that evolution is one of the basics that needs to be taught and understood in the classroom.  There are countless reasons for the way I feel.  Let alone from the very idea of how science knowledge is gathered and determined to be valid comes the practical reasons students need to understand evolution.

We live in a farm state where we need to better understand how insects in the field change through natural selection and therefore find more effective pesticides for better crop production.  As climate change endangers some species around the globe we need to better understand how natural selection works so we can perhaps find ways to prevent extinction from taking place.  From local to global there is a need for a whole new generation of thinkers who can tackle the issues that we will confront.

It is clear the slow but continual creep that vouchers are making within the educational system means taxpayers are going to subsidize inferior educations that will then weaken our national standing.  It is imperative that the majority of the state residents come to better understand why public schools matter, and why voucher schools be made to conform to some higher standards than they now do.

It almost seemed ironic that with the story about this voucher school in the paper that on the front of the opinion section there would be a quote from Sarah Archibald, education adviser to State Senator Luther Olsen.  When commenting this past week on Olsen’s idea for increasing the number of science and math classes students would need to take for graduation she said, ” If you look across the country, we have the lowest required credits for graduation.”

And it seems, as in the case of  Lighthouse Christian School, we also allow for some of the lowest standards.

The Wisconsin taxpayers should demand more accountability from these private schools that get state money.

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