Yes,14 states spend “nearly $1 billion” of taxpayer tuition on “hundreds of religious schools” that teach kids the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. This would be more troubling if we didn’t spend hundreds of billions every year not teaching millions of kids how to read. Voucher programs offer a wide variety of choices for parents, unlike the closed, failing districts schools that so many kids are trapped in. As of now, public schools spend around $638 billion on around 55 million students but only 250,000 students – almost all of them poor — are free to use vouchers and tax-credit scholarships. Of those kids, the vast majority do not attend schools with curriculums that feature intelligent design. Yet, judging from all the “special investigations” of creationism in schools, you might be under the impression it was the most pressing problem faced by educators.
I suspect that untold numbers of parents would sacrifice their children to the Gods of Creationism if meant they could attend safe and high-achieving schools. A lot of these schools score well. But that’s not the choice, either. Stephanie Simon’s piece offers a perfunctory acknowledgement that not all private schools are churning out fundamentalists, but then spends around two-thirds of her time discussing school-choice advocacy broadly – with the obligatory “Koch-funded” group playing a part — and conflating all that can be conflated about the issue. School-choice activism (Politico calls it a “big-money push,” which in the context of union money is laughable) focuses primarily on an escape route for underprivileged kids and the need to create a more competitive public schools, not religious education.