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August 13, 2008

Court: UC Can Deny College Prep Credit For Christian Classes

Last Friday, a federal district judge ruled that the UC system of schools can deny college prep credit (which is necessary for admission to UC schools) to Christian school courses which fail to meet standards of analysis and critical thinking. The judge's summary judgment order is here (PDF).

High school students qualify for admission to the UC system by taking a set number of approved classes and either of the common standardized tests. The issue in this case is whether UC can withhold approval from some classes being taught in Christian schools. One school sued, claiming that UC was intentionally discriminating against religion in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. UC replied that all courses must meet the same critical thinking and analysis requirements without regard for religion and that it could not make an exemption for religious schools. The judge agreed with UC.

Christian advocates are characterizing this as an attempt to secularize private religious schools, though to be perfectly honest, the schools are allowed to teach whatever they want about religion. It's just that their students will have trouble getting into UC schools if they teach revelation to the exclusion of reason. Let's take a look at some of those rejected courses.


Christianity and Morality in American Literature -- An English lit class was rejected because it uses an anthology rather than full-length works. UC generally requires that students read full-length works in college prep classes rather than excerpts. The UC reviewer also objected to the way the anthology insisted on "specific interpretations" of the already-shortened readings.

Christianity's Influence on America -- A history class was rejected because it did not use adequate historical analytic methods. The UC reviewer wrote that the textbook:

instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events, attributes historical events to divine providence rather than analyzing human action, evaluates historical figures and their contributions based on their religious motivations or lack thereof and contains inadequate treatment of several major ethnic groups, women, and non-Christian religious groups.

The school did not refute that characterization.

Unnamed Biology Course -- It was rejected because its textbook, according to the SF Chronicle quoting the judge, "declares on the first page that 'if (scientific) conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong.'"

The judge disregarded the school's argument that UC was attempting to secularize private schools because UC approved many courses that used texts like Chemistry for Christian Schools and Biology: God's Living Creation. He also noted that courses which included discussions of creationism as well as evolution had been approved.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:28 PM

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