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Strange standards

"Strange standards" Continued...

Issue: "Trailer park blues," Nov. 26, 2005

"Why is UC telling ACSI schools to do what public schools are doing when standardized testing data show better-educated students coming from ACSI?" Mr. Bird said.

In its motion to dismiss, the university says it is "not stopping Plaintiffs from teaching or studying anything. . . . [A]lthough the University does not accept every high school class as college preparatory, it also does not penalize students for taking additional classes that are not so accepted."

But Mr. Bird points out that with California's growing exclusion of Christian courses, ACSI students-and parents of state residents whose tax dollars support the university-face an extra burden when applying for admission. Students electing to take classes UC has rejected would either have to take extra, UC-approved courses, or be admitted to the university "by exception" to the school's standard policies.

After ACSI and Calvary Chapel Christian School filed suit in August, some mainstream media quickly painted the case as the Scopes trial revisited. CNN Headline News filled television screens nationwide Aug. 27 with a huge graphic: "Creationism Suit." That same day, David Rosenzweig of the Los Angeles Times cast the suit against the backdrop of the "mixing of science and religion," and wrote that "University of California admissions officials have been accused in a federal civil rights lawsuit of discriminating against high schools that teach creationism and other conservative Christian viewpoints."

"This is not a creationism case," said Mr. Bird. "This is a case about all major subject areas in high school, where the state of California has taken it upon itself to reject textbooks and courses because of Christian content." Mr. Bird noted that, to his knowledge, no other states practices similar censorship.

While the majority of school parents support the school's legal action, the case has caused some disruption. In the category of "minor annoyance," Superintendent Des Starr said he has received a smattering of postcards and e-mails from as far away as Kansas, accusing him of being backward and small-minded. Of more serious concern have been parents who, learning of UC's disapproval of proposed courses, worried about their children's university eligibility.

"They've said, 'Well what are we going to do now? What if we want our kids to go to UC schools?'" Mr. Starr said.

He has had to reassure parents that the school is not using the disapproved courses or textbooks, in order to ensure students remain fully eligible for admission. That hampers the school from fulfilling its mission, he said: not simply to teach academic subjects, but to teach a Christian worldview.

"We teach to the whole child, to that spirit that may be lying dormant within them," he said. "We want them to understand that Christ upholds the universe and we want that thinking to become second nature to them."

For the University of California, that may be precisely the problem. A hearing on the university's motion to dismiss is set for Dec. 12.

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