Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Evangelical Schools and the University of California: "Keeping Out the Christians"

"Keeping Out the Christians" by Naomi Riley describes the efforts of the University of California's admissions system to keep out students coming from evangelical high schools. This article in the latest issue of Education Next (a journal by the Hoover Institute for educators), begins with the specific case of Calvary Chapel high school in Murietta, California. After careful efforts to make three new classes comply with state standards, they found all three classes rejected for reasons that appear to reflect anti-Christian bias rather than fair and objective concerns. The content of the science textbook, for example, was fine -- but the apparent problem was that each chapter began with a verse from the Bible. Think what that would do to make students unfit for college.

The elite minds leading the University of California seem quite concerned about religious education:
Indeed, a list of "helpful hints" from the university suggests stripping religion even out of the religion classes: "Religion and ethics courses are acceptable ... as long as they ... do not include among its [sic] primary goals the personal religious growth of the student." This idea would probably sound odd to parents who send their children to any religious school--whether Catholic, Jewish, or evangelical--since character building is one of the foundations of the education excellence these institutions pride themselves on.
The article points out that evangelical schools are actually doing an excellent job in educating students, and also provide a surprisingly high level of racial integration, contrary to the suspicioun of some that Christian schools will promote racism and exclude minorities.

With students outperforming their public school peers in basic tests, the University of California should be happy to admit students of religious schools. But it seems likely that the UC system will increasingly go after evangelical schools and make it harder for their students to get in unless they weaken the religious aspects of their education.

As a Latter-day Saint, I suspect that students in evangelical schools are more likely to be exposed to anti-Mormon rhetoric than those in public schools. Sadly, the bulk of anti-Mormon literature appears to come from evangelical Christians. But I believe the typical student from evangelical or other Christian schools is much more likely to enter college with not only a decent education in math, science, and other fields, but with faith in Christ, knowledge of the Bible, and high moral standards. I don't think that's something we need to fear.

To the University of California system, I say, "Let those Christians in!"

7 comments:

Chris said...

The Hoover institute has a long history of right wing politics, not that what they are saying has no merit, just take it with a grain of salt. All California state Universities are extremely competative and as such one can find evidence of possible bias based on any grounds if you look hard enough, and pretty much everybody does http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ucla16jun16,1,43615.story

My own experience backs this up as I went to an Ivy league school and had several students in my class, from California, who got rejected from one or more California state schools!

Mark Butler said...

The problem here is not that the students were not academically qualified by any objective standard - the problem is that the UC system is refusing to certify high school classes that include a religious perspective as insufficiently rigorous, which is out and out anti-religious discrimination. Students do not need to believe in neo-Darwininism, they need to *understand* it - there is a difference.

Serenity Valley said...

I really don't trust the Hoover Institute, because it's not known for objectivity. But on the other hand, I'd not be surprised to find some religious bias in university admission. Which just drives me nuts. We're such a religiously balkanized country right now--the last thing we need to do is prevent kids who may have had little contact with those outside their religious culture from mixing with others.

I must say, though, that UC Berkeley seems to have a strong Evangelical presence--the majority of student groups I see advertised on campus are Evangelical, and CCC certainly has a strong organization. In fact, there are enough Evangelical students that they've balkanized a bit themselves, usually by ethnicity. Of course, I have no numbers to support this; beyond that, plenty of students in California public high schools are probably Evangelicals, and maybe they make up the bulk of the kids we see with signs advertising bible studies.

In any case, it's strikingly different from what I saw as a U of U student in the late 90s. (CCC, for example, had four or five members, all female; one of my close friends was involved, and was always trying to get me to go watch VeggiTales with them).

Mark, the question here is whether these kids do understand evolutionary theory. That may not correlate with the representation in their textbooks. Beyond that, I've noticed that it's hard for textbooks oriented toward creationism to accurately represent other theories--the ones I've seen tend toward statements about how evolutionary theory claims we descended from monkeys.

Does anyone have a link that shows the disputed textbook content? I'd love to see it, as well as UC's full commentary on it.

Sarah said...

My application to one college honors program in Ohio (I was trying to double major in History and Physics) rejected me on the (stated) grounds that my Physics textbook was published by A Beka books. I went to a different college honors program (at a public university) instead, and my student loans are much lower because of it.

Mark Butler said...

It is so ridiculous to reject a student over a *textbook*. What is college for if not an opportunity to attempt to reprogram the student to believe in the way of truth and light? Or is it that colleges want their student bodies to be untainted by heresy?

Either way, I seriously doubt this policy (at a public university) will survive a sustained court challenge. The Supreme Court generally requires government to be neutral on any form of dogmatism, religious or otherwise. Doctrinaire neo-darwinism is a philosophical dogmatism, almost an atheism.

The problem with most scientists is they cannot tell the difference between science and philosophy - to them materialist orthodoxy is the one true religion, established and endorsed by the state, and every other view is apostate or worse.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Mark! But it's just some scientists that feel this way - the ones that get all the publicity and pretend to speak for all of science, unfortunately.

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