There are two big stories floating around this week dealing with the subject of faith-based schools.
In the first story, Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN) caused quite a stir when he said the following at an Islamic Circle of North America convention:
“America will never tap into educational innovation and ingenuity without looking at the model that we have in our madrassas, in our schools, where innovation is encouraged, where the foundation is the Quran. And that model that we are pushing in some of our schools meets the multiple needs of students.” – HuffPo
Right-wing conspiracy websites like World
Net Nut Daily went into low earth orbit over this. Had Rep. Carson gone on about how the Quran needed to be the foundation of every school, etc, I might have had agreed with them. I shudder at the thought!
But he didn’t.
I listened to his speech, in the video below, and following his admittedly really poor choice of phrase, Rep. Carson went on to talk about how public schools should change their methods based on the fact that there are different learning styles, Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic in particular.
The comments in particular come at 6:19.
The second story comes to us from Louisiana.
Seems that Gov. Jindal signed into law HB976, which proposed, among other things, a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups.
The uber Christian Conservatives celebrated this as a great moment in “school choice”… until they discovered that Islamic schools were taking advantage of the program, too. That led one lawmaker, Rep. Valarie Hodges (R-naturally), to rethink her support of the program.
Why, you ask?
“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges told the Livingston Parish News. The paper said Hodges “mistakenly assumed that ‘religious’ meant ‘Christian.’”
“Unfortunately [the voucher program] will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “…There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.” – The New Republic
There’s so much wrong with “the founders’ religion”, I can’t even begin to go into it. Additionally, the fact that she’s ok with spending public money on Christian schools, but not on Islamic schools is, unfortunately, the common view of ‘religious liberty’ held by the uber Christian Conservatives.
For them, ‘religious liberty’ is very narrowly defined as not only Christianity, but only Christianity that is either lined up with, or married to, the far-right Republican platform.
- Louisiana Republican: When I Voted for State Funds to go to Religious Schools, I Didn’t Mean Muslim Ones (patheos.com)
- Rep. André Carson Calls For U.S. Schools To Be Modeled On Madrassas (jonathanturley.org)