In 2017, the Orlando Sentinel published a powerful three-part series about unregulated and unaccountable voucher schools in Florida, called “Schools Without Rules.” In Florida, voucher schools receive $1 billion each year of taxpayer funding.

In 2018, the Orlando Sentinel published an article about the textbook companies that supply teaching materials to voucher schools and homeschoolers. Their books incorporate religious values into their content.

Prominent among them is the ABeka company in Florida.

Their textbooks reflect a religious approach to science, history, and other subjects.

The Orlando Sentinel wrote:

One of the largest suppliers of materials for private schools and home-school students across the United States is affiliated with a small Christian college in the Florida Panhandle.

Abeka, formerly known as A Beka Book, is named for Beka Horton, who along with her husband, Arlin, founded a small Christian school in 1954 and Pensacola Christian College in 1974…

Today, Abeka Academy Inc. takes in $45.6 million in revenue — $6 million less than its reported expenses of $51 million — according to the nonprofit’s tax documents for the financial year that ended May 2017.

Abeka, along with the Bob Jones University-affiliated BJU Press and Accelerated Christian Education Inc., is among the most popular curricula used by Christian schools that take part in Florida’s $1 billion voucher program, which pays for children from low-income families or those with special needs to attend private schools.

Though the Hortons retired from the college in 2012, Abeka carries on the couple’s legacy of what it calls a “Biblical perspective.”

For example, the company describes its teachings in the subject of history this way: “We present government as ordained by God for the maintenance of law and order, not as a cure-all for humanity’s problems. We present free-enterprise economics without apology and point out the dangers of Communism, socialism, and liberalism to the well-being of people across the globe. In short, Abeka offers a traditional, conservative approach to the study of what man has done with the time God has given him.”

The Orlando Sentinel described the curriculum in Christian schools that are funded by taxpayer dollars:

Some private schools in Florida that rely on public funding teach students that dinosaurs and humans lived together, that God’s intervention prevented Catholics from dominating North America and that slaves who “knew Christ” were better off than free men who did not.

The lessons taught at these schools come from three Christian publishing companies whose textbooks are popular on many of about 2,000 campuses that accept, and often depend on, nearly $1 billion in state scholarships, or vouchers.

At the Orlando Sentinel’s request, educators from Florida colleges and school districts reviewed textbooks and workbooks from these publishers, looking at elementary reading and math, middle school social studies and high school biology materials.

They found numerous instances of distorted history and science lessons that are outside mainstream academics. The books denounce evolution as untrue, for example, and one shows a cartoon of men and dinosaurs together, telling students the Biblical Noah likely brought baby dinosaurs onto his ark. The science books, they added, seem to discourage students from doing experiments or even asking questions.
“Students who have learned science in this kind of environment are not prepared for college experiences,” said Cynthia Bayer, a biology lecturer at the University of Central Florida who reviewed the science books. “They would be intellectually disadvantaged.”

The social studies books downplay the horrors of slavery and the mistreatment of Native Americans, they said. One book, in its brief section on the civil rights movement, said that “most black and white southerners had long lived together in harmony” and that “power-hungry individuals stirred up the people.”

The books are rife with religious and political opinions on topics such as abortion, gay rights and the Endangered Species Act, which one labels a “radical social agenda.” They disparage religions other than Protestant Christianity and cultures other than those descended from white Europeans. Experts said that was particularly worrisome given that about 60 percent of scholarship students are black or Hispanic.

The newspaper story contains illustrations that appear in the textbooks, showing humans and dinosaurs co-existing.

Page from a high school biology workbook
Page from a high school biology workbook (ACE)