Rick Snyder has made it no secret during his 4 failed years as governor that he wants to privatize as many government institutions as possible. Education has been on his agenda since he took office in 2011. Snyder launched a program called the Education Achievement Authority, a for-profit education system that undermines the authority of the public school district, local and state school boards, but requires public funds to function. The first EAA program in Michigan was in Detroit, where there have been nothing but problems, high teacher turnover, and scandals that forced the chancellor to resign and leave the state. The entire program is a failure, but Snyder still intends to push the EAA into the rest of the state.
Another education reform Snyder wants to force on Michigan taxpayers are school vouchers. Vouchers are unconstitutional in Michigan, but this didn’t stop Snyder from having his right hand man, Richard Baird, set up secret meetings discussing a back-door school voucher program that became known as ”skunkworks.” Once the secret was leaked, Snyder pretended he knew nothing about it but suggested he thought it was a good idea.
School vouchers allow parents to pick any school they want their children to attend, including private religious schools and force tax payers to pay for it. In Michigan, most of the money behind the push for vouchers comes from the DeVos family, through their school choice organization GLEP and through personally offering bribes to state legislators if they vote in favor of school vouchers, right to work, and anything else they want. So far it hasn’t happened in Michigan, because it will require a constitutional amendment, but if Snyder wins another term it’s a guarantee school vouchers will be something he pushes for, and the DeVos family will write as many checks as needed to those who vote in Lansing.
Students attending a parochial school would have their education funded by school vouchers, meaning Michigan tax payers would be required to pay for religious education. This is a clear violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, but many states in the country, including Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Colorado and Utah and others allow school vouchers to pay for religious schools. The fastest growing church schools are fundamentalist Protestant Christian schools, and there are a number of companies providing curriculum for these schools. The largest of these is Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) published by School of Tomorrow in Garland, Texas.
How many children are being taught with ACE? It’s hard to say, because numbers are not public information. Currently 22 private schools using ACE curriculum operate in Michigan, 8 of those schools in Northern Michigan. This doesn’t include children who are home schooled using ACE, or students using the online curriculum. The program resembles nothing you would ever see in a traditional classroom.
ACE began in 1970 as a reaction to desegregation in the Southern United States. Parents who didn’t want their children attending integrated public schools where other progressive ideas were also taking hold demanded conservative Christian education, and School of Tomorrow was the first to offer an education curriculum and model that churches could easily adopt and use. Other popular curriculum designed for Protestant Christian schools include Abeka and Bob Jones. ACE was the first and enjoys the largest share of the Christian education market. ACE is taught in 135 countries worldwide, including the UK and China. In fact, Chinese parents who intend to send their children to the United States to attend college want to send their children to schools operated by Americans, and ACE schools are usually the option they have. Chinese students come to America believing ACE is the standard for American education.
So what does an ACE school look like? A.C.E. is set up to function as a top down, literal ‘Skinner Box’ for children. Every action is monitored and either immediately punished or rewarded. Students work alone in total silence, there is no social interaction or group projects. There are no lectures, lesson plans, or teachers. Only workbooks called “PACEs” (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education) and “supervisors” to monitor the students progress. Students are isolated in their own cubicles called offices. The only time they may speak to anyone is by using a small flag to get the attention of a supervisor. Otherwise, they work individually on all of their subjects using PACEs. Individualized education where students work on their own is a main component of ACE, because according to their promotional material, it’s based on the bible.
What does a PACE look like? Former ACE student from the United Kingdom Jonny Scaramanga in this video shares a high school level Ancient History PACE, which amazingly enough is considered acceptable A Level (college prep) work in Great Britain.
ACE curriculum contains the standard school subjects. Math, Science – including health education, English/Language Arts and Social Studies. Remedial grammar is available by computer. Foreign Language instruction is offered through Rosetta Stone software. The difference that is immediately apparent however is the obvious bias that permeates throughout every booklet the students use for their lessons, including subjects such as art. Below is a passage on why Apartheid was actually Godly and why it was wrong for South Africa to abolish it:
The government must be responsible to the taxpayers who provide the money that the government spends. Since that is true only taxpayers should be given the privilege of voting…
The apartheid policy of South Africa is a modern example of this principle. Under the apartheid system, the population of five million Whites controls most of the nation’s wealth. If apartheid were done away with, the twenty million Blacks, who are not taxpayers, would be given the privilege of voting. Within a short period of time they would control the government and the means of taxation. ‘The power to tax is the power to destroy.’ Heavy taxation could become a burden to the property owners who actually finance the government and provide jobs. Economics is the major reason that apartheid exists. Some people want to abolish apartheid immediately. That action would certainly alter the situation in South Africa, but would not improve it.
Accelerated Christian Education Social Studies PACE 1086 (1990, p.29)
Many of the comics included in ACE curriculum are meant to teach proper character traits, such as obedience.
ACE also instills the belief that sexual orientation is a choice and people who choose wrong are doomed to eternity in Hell:
Some people mistakenly believe that an individual is born a homosexual and his attraction to those of the same sex is normal. Because extensive tests have shown that there is no biological difference between homosexuals and others, these tests seem to prove that homosexuality is a learned behaviour. The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin. In Old Testament times, God commanded that homosexuals be put to death. Since God never commanded death for normal or acceptable actions, it is as unreasonable to say that homosexuality is normal as it is to say that murder or stealing is normal.
Science 1107, p. 10
The curriculum of ACE is designed for learning subjects, but to also instruct children on how to be righteous Christians in a world rife with evil things such as homosexuality, liberalism, evolution, secular humanism, feminism, abortion, and disobedience to God’s law, which surpasses any other law in the universe, including federal law.
If Rick Snyder gets his way and school vouchers are allowed in Michigan, then our tax dollars will pay for children in the state to learn from curriculum like this in churches and at home. Parents have the right to educate their child based on their religious beliefs, but expecting tax payers to cover the cost is unconstitutional, and frankly unacceptable. It’s ironic that the churches that use ACE and teach children that the government is bad and against God’s will would accept money from that government to pay for educating children to hate the government.
We can stop Rick Snyder, the DeVos family and other school “reformers” from getting the chance to allow school vouchers in Michigan on November 4. Go to the polls and vote for Mark Schauer, and Democratic Party candidates who will protect tax payers from having their money wasted on substandard education like ACE.
Obedience and control are strictly enforced in ACE programs. Discipline will be the subject of a future article.