Welcome to Atheist School!
There's been an interesting exchange making the rounds on Facebook the past few days, and I contacted the original author for permission to share it. The decision to change the name to ‘B.C.’ was mine, and based only on the venom being slung towards #OklaEd bloggers lately. (I’d hate for Jay to go after her family and kids without at least going to the trouble to hunt down the original all by his shocked-and-outraged-little-self.)
It begins simply enough…
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 3:18 PM
To: Travis Dunlap
As a parent with children in Bartlesville Public Schools I am very concerned by HB 2949. If this bill passes it would result in a $2.2 million dollar hit to BPS. Please vote NO to school vouchers and HB2949.
Elected representatives don’t get anonymity. That’s not how being in elected office works.
On Feb 24, 2016, at 10:11 AM, Travis Dunlap <Travis.Dunlap@okhouse.gov> wrote:
Thank you for writing B.C.,
I really appreciate hearing from constituents (especially parents!). I would like to provide you with my personal cell phone to be stored in your contacts for use at your discretion. My cell phone number is (xxx) xxx-xxxx.
To his credit, he shared his actual number. You want it, YOU email him and ask for it.
I want to quickly note that the figure you reference is based on an assumption of over 100,000 students participating and taking an unspecified categorization of the ESA funding formula (there are three categorizations: 10%, 60% and 90% of what is spent on the student in a public state using the state aid formula). The estimate also assumes that revenues stay the same over a 14 year period.
A 2.2 million dollar hit for BPS in next year's budget is simply not a reality in this bill.
Fair enough, so far. Numbers and impact and such are always subject to dispute. Plus, he sounds all… facty and stuff. That’s kinda rare ‘round these parts – so kudos to Mr. Dunlap on THAT, even if he's partly just spewing party-talking-point babble.
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 11:22 AM
To: Travis Dunlap
Subject: Re: HB2949
Thank you for getting back with me on this topic. The more I research this bill and read what it allows the more I dislike it. The main issue is the hit, of any size, that our public schools would take. I do not think my public tax dollars should be used to fund private institutions. There is not enough accountability within private schools.
I also do not think that my tax dollars should go towards funding the religious education of others. Many private schools are religious in nature and I am not supportive of my tax dollars being used to further their religious agendas. How would you feel if part of your paycheck was taken and used to send kids to an atheist based private school? Are you OK with your money being spent to teach kids that God doesn’t exist? How about a Muslim school? Would you be OK with your money funding tuition for kids to attend a school and read and study the Koran?
As a former Catholic school student I know how much religion is worked into the curriculum. I am Methodist. I am pro-choice. I truly believe that we should love everyone no matter what their sexual orientation. I do not want my money going to a school that tells young women they cannot make decisions for their own health and well-being. I do not want my money going to a school that teaches that some people are better than others and should have more rights than others based on their sexual orientation. Can you guarantee me that my tax dollars will not be supporting religious schools that teach children views that are opposite to what I believe? If you cannot, then this bill forces me to write a blank check to institutions that I fundamentally disagree with.
This bill is welfare for private schools at the expense of our public school systems. If parents want their kids to attend private schools, whether it is for religious or academic or any other reason, they should pay for it themselves. I should not have to foot the bill, especially when it takes money away from the schools my own children attend.
Thank you ,
So… our friend B.C. got a bit more detailed on this one. VERY well-spoken!
Here’s where it gets interesting, if not exactly surprising…
From: Travis Dunlap <Travis.Dunlap@okhouse.gov>
Subject: Re: HB2949
Date: February 24, 2016 at 1:26:56 PM CST
You communicate all of this very well. Thank you for your dialogue. I only want to point out that I hear many parents who choose alternative education express the same frustration when they see what their tax dollars support at public school (which are atheist-based). I believe we will continue to serve widening range of student needs in our public education. ESA's are the best way to serve the public as a whole. They have typically increased quality at all education institutions when they have been implemented in other states.
Look at the research referenced at edchoice.org for an introduction to this kind of material.
Thank you once again for your dialogue. It has been very kind.
It grabs you enough that you might easily miss the nonsense about vouchers improving school quality in other states. I also liked the slightly patronizing tone of "go look at this neat site to get started with knowing what you're talking about!" It's so... Amway.
Bit I digress.
Now, it’s entirely possible that Mr. Dunlap simply doesn’t know the difference between non-sectarian, secular, and outright atheist. I’ve often run into these dilemmas when dealing with state legislators – are they boldly and cynically lying, or genuinely that clueless about the issues over which they hold such power and authority?
I try to find third options – I really do – but so far they’ve eluded me.
Either way, Representative Dunlap is expressing a mindset quite common among state leadership. We heard it in Sen. Brecheen’s rants over Common Core and our failure to enforce Old Testament law across the state (he wanted supporters chased down with swords, if memory serves). We saw it in Rep. Fisher’s demands that history be sanitized and Xianized or they’d yank AP funding, and we felt it in his shock and hurt when his efforts fell short because – in his words – they’d been misrepresented as a threat to *sniff* yank *gurgle* AP *sob* funding!
Damn #OklaEd bloggers and their socialist grawlixes!
Senators Bennett and Dahm and others annually submit legislation to push their version of Xianity into more of the school day, and when in January we begin rounding up Muslims and placing them in internment camps (no doubt with names like “Religious Freedom Expansion Retreats”), it will bring nothing but joy to Republican leadership and their ilk.
But back to those "atheist-based" schools and the huge danger they seem to pose.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been a committed evangelical, but I don’t recall Biblical Christianity being so fragile.
The constant terror that the One True Faith will be subverted and destroyed by a little high school science, or where we place the Ten Commandments, or moments of introspection regarding our historical sins and national shortcomings - it’s like they have Jesus confused with Tinkerbell, and must devote all their legislative energies to demanding we clap harder and faster before she’s lost forever!
The proverbial “wall of separation” may serve to protect people from religion. In modern usage, it often serves to protect non-majority faiths from government restriction or public abuse. But they’re not the groups with the MOST to lose when the state takes on a new and improved role as Higher Truth Police.
The worst thing you can do to Christianity isn’t to ban it, or fight it, or mock it, or persecute it. Surely they’ve read enough of their Bibles and know a FEW of the many historical examples of REAL faith flourishing under the worst possible conditions.
The worst thing you can do to Christianity is legislate it – to finance it when it does what you want, and defund it when it doesn’t. The worst thing you can do is wrap it up with politics and money and the power of the state polluting and obscuring the Still Small Voice of personal communication with the Eternal. Ask Catholics in the Middle Ages, or Puritans in colonial times, or anyone living under truly radical Islam today.
I don’t teach at an atheistic school, Mr. Dunlap, and I’m not trying to protect my kids from religion – yours, their parents’, or anyone else’s.
I’m trying to protect them - and their journeys of faith, whatever form they may take - from you and your ilk.
No wonder they hate us.
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