Federally Funded Tutoring Program Has Ties to Scientology
AnonRanGER 2012/04/10 09:40:57
ABCs OF SCIENTOLOGY
Tutoring program hides close ties to church founder Hubbard
By Noreen O’Donnell Monday, April 9, 2012
A federally funded after-school program for poor children is based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s theories.
With Uncle Sam’s help, underprivileged kids across the country
are being exposed to the ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
of public school districts are using a tutoring program with close ties
to Scientology, according to tax documents filed by Applied Scholastics
International, a nonprofit that promotes Hubbard’s teaching methods.
The group has government approval to provide federally funded
after-school tutoring in 12 states, including California, Texas and
On its most recent IRS records, Applied Scholastics
reported that 248 public schools purchased its services in 2010 — three
times as many as in 2009, when it worked with 74 schools. The group
claims to have provided tutoring to more than 1,600 students.
Scholastics gained a toehold in public education a decade ago through
the No Child Left Behind law, one provision of which requires failing
schools, typically in poorer communities, to offer tutoring to
low-income students. Federal funds are used to pay tutors who meet
criteria set by each state.
Although religious organizations are
eligible to provide secular instruction, Applied Scholastics maintains
that its tutoring programs are not connected to the Church of
Scientology and are based only on the educational theories of church
founder L. Ron Hubbard — specifically, on a teaching method he developed
called study technology, or “study tech.”
According to study
technology, three barriers prevent people from learning: not having the
physical object of what’s being studied, not having mastered prior
skills, and misunderstanding words.
"Study Technology has as its
sole purpose teaching people how to learn," said Christine Gerson, a
spokeswoman for Applied Scholastics.
On forms filed with the
IRS, the group describes Hubbard as an educator and humanitarian. No
mention is made of Scientology, though “study tech” is a founding
principle of the religion.
“I think that the school districts
that are buying into this particular program may or may not know that
the Church of Scientology is printing this garbage up,” said Christine
Anderson, a San Antonio mother who got Scientology-linked teaching
materials removed from her son’s middle school seven years ago.
“You have got to be aware of the education that your children are getting,” she said. “Don’t sit by.”
Scholastics said that in 2010, it took in $1.3 million from its
education and literacy programs. The information is included on Applied
Scholastics’ 990 tax form, a filing submitted to the IRS each year by
The organization does not distinguish
between revenue from public schools and its privately run schools and
community centers, but Gerson said that a substantial portion of the
$1.3 million was from tutoring. The average cost per student was
approximately $680, she said.
Critics discount any distinction between Applied Scholastics and Scientology.
claim that they’re an independent organization is a fiction,” said
David Touretzky, a professor in the Computer Science Department and the
Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University
who has written extensively about Scientology.
Applied Scholastics is staffed by Scientologists; it familiarizes
students with Scientology terms and allows them to become comfortable
with its ideas. As an academic program, it lacks credibility, he and
“It’s garbage,” Touretzky said. “Kids benefit from
adults who pay attention to them and are interested in seeing them
learn, and so I can’t say that Applied Scholastics is worse than
nothing. It may be better than nothing. But it’s certainly not better
than other approaches that could be used.”
If parents understood
that their children were receiving subtle indoctrination into
Scientology, they might choose a different program, he said.
Linda Behar-Horenstein, an education professor at the University of Florida, said the concepts were simplistic.
“We need to help students learn how to learn, and learn to ask questions when they don’t understand,” she said.
responded: "In my experience, the few individuals who have opined
against Study Technology do not know enough about it to render a
The future of the mandated tutoring under No
Child Left Behind is uncertain. The Obama administration, in a fight
with Congress over its failure to update the law, has begun offering
waivers from the law’s requirements.
Of the 12 states in which
Applied Scholastics is approved for tutoring, five — Colorado, Florida,
Massachusetts, New Mexico and Tennessee — got waivers in February. As a
result, schools in those states can discontinue the mandated tutoring if
they believe they can better help students in some other way.
states and the District of Columbia have applied for waivers in the
second round. Those include Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and
Washington state — all states where Applied Scholastics is approved. But
the two most populous states, California and Texas, are not seeking
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