That’s the headline to a piece by New York Times columnist Charles Blow. Blow suggests that confusing comments by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, about his thoughts on the age of Earth are just another example of modern American conservatism trapped in the grip of anti-intellectual zealots. Money quote:

This anti-intellectualism is antediluvian. No wonder a 2009 Pew Research Center report found that only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republican and 9 percent identified as conservative.

Furthermore, a 2005 study found that just 11 percent of college professors identified as Republican and 15 percent identified as conservative. Some argue that this simply represents a liberal bias in academia. But just as strong a case could be made that people who absorb facts easily don’t suffer fools gladly.

Last month, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said on CNN:

“We need to stop being the dumb party. We need to offer smart, conservative, intelligent ideas and policies.”

Unfortunately, as Blow then points out, Jindal has signed into Louisiana law a voucher scheme for using public tax dollars to fund religious schools that teach, among other nonsense, that the

Another sign that private school vouchers will be a battle in the 2013 legislative session in Texas: at least 35 Republican candidates for the Texas House of Representatives on November 6 have indicated that they support an argument used by voucher advocates for draining tax dollars from public schools to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools.

The candidates were responding to a voter guide questionnaire sponsored by several religious-right groups. The 35 said they either “strongly agree” or “agree” with the following statement:

“Free market competition for education dollars, rather than a government monopoly, would create a better education for all students.”

Advocates of publicly funded vouchers for private and religious schools have long argued that “competition” will improve education (despite research debunking the claim). The 35 GOP candidates who indicated their support for the pro-voucher argument:

District 6 Matt Schaefer District 12 Kyle Kacal District 15 Steve Toth District 17 Tim Kleinschmidt District 23 Wayne Faircloth District 24 Greg Bonnen District 26 Rick Miller District 29 Ed Thompson District 33 Scott Turner District 45 Jason Isaac District 47 Paul Workman District 59 JD… Read More

Later this morning we’ll be at the state Senate Committee on Education hearing that will take up school vouchers. As we told you yesterday — and as we’ll be telling the committee today — vouchers are always a bad idea. But at time when school district budgets have been slashed, a scheme that drains even more funds from public schools is an even worse idea.

Today we bring you two critiques of vouchers.

The first is from Jim Dugan, an education activist in Louisiana who has been monitoring that state’s controversial voucher program approved earlier this year. Mr. Dugan has given us permission to disseminate his preliminary analysis of the church-state issues already cropping up in Louisiana’s experiment with vouchers. In that report, he provides concrete examples of state funding for schools that:

1. Teach religious doctrine throughout the curriculum, rather than just in specific courses on religion. 2. Weaken or omit core subject content normally covered in public schools. 3. Have admissions policies that discriminate in ways that public schools would not permit.

It’s like looking into a crystal ball and seeing what we could expect here, should Texas implement a voucher… Read More

This Friday we’ll be monitoring a state senate photo op committee hearing here in Austin on one of the longstanding pet causes for the far right: school vouchers.

Yes, vouchers are back. Again. After failing to pass voucher legislation at each legislative session since 1995, the far right seems poised to try, try again next year when they reconvene for the 83rd Texas Legislative Session.

We’ve said it many times before: All voucher schemes accomplish is to drain scarce taxpayer funds from public schools and funnel them to private and religiously affiliated schools. And, if you were paying attention during the 2011 Legislative session, public schools don’t have much more to give after lawmakers stripped school district budgets of roughly $4 billion.

But such concerns won’t stop the far right from giving it another shot. State Sen. Dan Patrick, who will act as chair at Friday’s Senate Committee on Education hearing, made his intentions quite clear in a Houston Chronicle story just a few weeks ago:

“To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session. Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They’ve been wanting us… Read More

Vouchers drain tax dollars from neighborhood public schools to pay for tuition at private and religious schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers and not held to the same standards as public schools. State rules just issued for Louisiana’s radical new voucher scheme are a case in point — especially when it comes to defining and setting consequences for “failure.”

The Lone Star State’s neighbor to the east will allow students in “failing” public schools to use tuition vouchers — at an average cost to taxpayers of $8,000 each — to enroll in private and religious schools. But while the performance of public schools is rated based on the results of standardized tests their students must take, voucher students won’t be subject to similar testing unless their new schools enroll a certain number of such students.

Moreover, voucher students won’t even take the same standardized tests that public school students must take. And voucher students can still be promoted to the next grade even if they fail their version of the tests.

In fact, private and religious schools can continue to accept taxpayer-funded vouchers even if their students are failing the tests. And most voucher schools will… Read More