Monday, May 09, 2005

Political Pork and Fundamentalist Financing

According to this morning's WaPo, Congress has assisted in the financing of a five-year old, unaccredited College in Alaska to the tune of $1 Million over the past 2 years. Alaska Christian College (ACC) is a small school associated with the Evangelical Covenant Church and has 37 students that will be eligible to receive certificates in biblical studies for the completion of 1 year of study or certificates in biblical and general studies to those who complete 2 years. The Madison, WI based Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the Education Department to rescind the funding as a breach of the separation of church and state. Under current guidelines, the federal government is permitted to give money to schools with religious affiliation provided that money is used for secular purposes.

According to ACC President Keith Hamilton, the purpose of the school, which is predominantly Native American, is to help students make the transition from high school to college. Hamilton also notes that the school has applied for accreditation beginning in 2007 and teaches much more than bible-study, non-biblical courses are offered in choir, physical education and leadership which, he asserts, makes the school a Christian College and not a Bible School.

According to the Association of Biblical Higher Education, in order to be accredited,
undergraduate institutions
require students to complete a substantial general education core involving study in such areas as humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral science, and natural/information science. General education is a common element in most college degree programs. The idea of general education is to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need for thinking and citizenship throughout life.

ABHE undergraduate institutions insist on general education in order to help students learn how to think Biblically about every area of life. The goal is the development of a comprehensive Christian world view. Graduate education normally would not have a general studies component; however, graduate students would need to have an appropriate general education background in their undergraduate studies. Graduate students would be expected to engage in research and writing at a progressively more advanced level than undergraduate students.
The above description doesn't even begin to describe ACCs programs. Even the description of non-religious courses don't seem to support the stance that the school assists students in preparing for a transition to post-secondary school as they appear to be akin to what many of us took as non-academic/extra-curricular courses in secondary school. I tried to obtain more information about the curricualum from ACC directly, but the web-site is down for maintenance. Regardless, it appears as though Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has done a fine job finagling some pork to support his constituents, unfortunately that money was applied in an obviously unconstitutional fashion.

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