Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Education is Important? Bah.

Well, lawmakers in South Carolina have made it very clear that they don't actually value education, unless, of course, it furthers their political and religious agenda. Supporting a private school with a very specific political and religious agenda (and let's not ignore that these two are linked more often than we'd like) is ok --apparently even if you have to change the rules to allow a substandard, non-accredited school. Wasn't the legislature in SC nice to make such a special exception for Bob Jones University?

State lawmakers shot down a request for extra financial help for low-income students who will attend South Carolina's public colleges and universities next year.

Meanwhile, they approved $2.5 million to help low-income students attend Bob Jones University, a private school in Greenville.

The State Commission on Higher Education had requested $10 million to increase grants for some needy students attending public colleges and universities. Last year, low-income public school students received, on average, $1,158 in grants while their private-school counterparts received $3,100, nearly three times as much.

It's not that I'm upset that private schools get grants (although, why they would need 3X the public support than a public school is a bit questionable)--Private schools have been able to get grants in NC for years, of course, as long as they were accredited schools, non-profits, with a major campus in SC. But, the rules were changed so that any school that gives bachelor degrees and was started before 1962. Hey! That describes Bob Jones University to a T! What an amazing coincidence, isn't it? Like it was designed just for them!

And then, well, we better made sure that we fund the program enough so that can attend BJU with financial aid. Oh, we don't need to increase the amount for non-private schools! But look at all the people who want to attend BYU and just can't

Eddie Shannon, executive director of the Tuition Grants Commission, said that with the extra money, the commission can give about 800 low-income Bob Jones University students $3,200 next year. That's the same amount most other needy private school students will receive, he said.

The bill to include Bob Jones University was sponsored by Sens. Michael Fair, R-Greenville, and Darrell Jackson, D-Hopkins. Shannon said that although the bill didn't specifically mention Bob Jones University, "it happens to be the only new one that qualifies."

Must be nice to have he legislators looking out for you, eh? And it seems a pretty innocuous piece of legislation (you can view the actual text here) -- unless you, like me, actually value education.

In general, the rest of the collegiate world views Bob Jones as a bit of a joke, and for years they wore their non-accredited state as a badge of honor -- making it very clear that they were more interested in indoctrination and specious curriculum than reality. But hey, you can't focus on religion and dogma if you are actually being held to some sort of standards.

Bob Jones, like many other ultra-conservative religious instituations, teach creationism in their science department instead of, you know, actual science. One of the sponsors of the bill was also a sponsor of the failed bill to require teaching intelligent design in schools in SC last year. Well, this just deftly bypassed the Instead of funding highly accredited schools like Clemson, the University of South Carolina, legislators decided to keep South Carolina in the Dark Ages.

Bob Jones University is finally an accredited school (in April 2005) -- no, wait, that's not entirely true. They are accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. TRACS grants accreditation only to evangelical Christian institutions of higher learning. One of the nurses that works at the same hospital as the husband was denied the ability to join the military as a nurse, because her degree was not considered from an "accredited institution" -- in this case? BYU.

Yeah, they need all the help they can get.

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