The Accelerated Christian Education program (ACE) is an example of the sort of subtle cancer that’s slowly eating away at our education system.The program began in Texas back in the 1970s; it currently claims to have books distributed across 6,000 schools in 140 countries. Since ACE operates within private schools, the workbooks are published internally, and the vast majority of people have no clue what’s being taught. There are no ACE books in public libraries, and they’ve been ignored by the mainstream media, leaving them to operate as a force for the last 40 years without anything resembling scrutiny.
Just in case you forgot where you were living, most ACE schools are the beneficiaries of various voucher programs in the United States and in the United Kingdom, despite these schools lack teachers in the conventional sense and having a backwards notion of education. Rather, students are set inside of cubicles, and complete workbooks (called PACEs), separately and in silence.
And about the workbooks; they’re full of lies. They’re little better than propaganda tools, teaching children that solar fusion is a myth and that the Second Law of Thermodynamics disproves evolution. It teaches children that the scientific method begins with throwing out all reasoning and trusting God, and have even been condemned by Bob Jones University (you know, the place that banned interracial dating because the 1960s scared them).
The main vehicle of indoctrination is the cartoon strips that the PACEs use. These strips echo the very best of Jack Chick; to call them “repugnant” would be akin to saying it’s “sort of unpleasant” on Mercury. Just what do these propaganda tools peppering the books show?
Nothing good. It’s time to get out the thinking caps, class, so we can study the Three R’s — Racism, Right-wingers, and Religion.
R is for Racism, Segregation, and Apartheid
The PACE comics are horribly racist. These are books that promote segregation; for instance, look at the following two strips, each one taking place in a different school:
Well, here’s Harmony:
Now do you see it?
As it’s laid out in ACE’s Procedures Manual I — Learning Center Essentials (even in 2010 edition), the PACE characters go to three different schools. The white kids go to Highland, the black kids go to Harmony, and the Asians go to Heartsville. If you still think this cherry picking, here’s another example of outright racism that appeared in the ACE schoolbooks of Johnny Scaramanga, the blogger over at Leaving Fundamentalism:
Although apartheid appears to allow the unfair treatment of blacks, the system has worked well in South Africa… Although white businessmen and developers are guilty of some unfair treatment of blacks, they turned South Africa into a modern industrialized nation, which the poor, uneducated blacks couldn’t have accomplished in several more decades. If more blacks were suddenly given control of the nation, its economy and business, as Mandela wished, they could have destroyed what they have waited and worked so hard for.
A quote that appeared in later books regarding apartheid but has since been removed discussed the consequences of taxation and the end of apartheid, and how those “poor whites” who benefited would suddenly have “twenty million Blacks, who are not taxpayers,” to contend with at the voting booths. I can’t do this quote justice; you have to read it to believe it:
The government must be responsible to the taxpayers who provide the money that the government spends. Since that is true only taxpayers should be given the privilege of voting…
The apartheid policy of South Africa is a modern example of this principle. Under the apartheid system, the population of five million Whites controls most of the nation’s wealth. If apartheid were done away with, the twenty million Blacks, who are not taxpayers, would be given the privilege of voting. Within a short period of time they would control the government and the means of taxation. ‘The power to tax is the power to destroy.’ Heavy taxation could become a burden to the property owners who actually finance the government and provide jobs. Economics is the major reason that apartheid exists. Some people want to abolish apartheid immediately. That action would certainly alter the situation in South Africa, but would not improve it.
The replacement text wasn’t much better, but it excised a lot of the blatant racism (while leaving the subtle implications behind). It’s also in an entirely different font from the rest of the text:
“Since ‘the power to tax is the power to destroy,’ white South Africans attempted to create a system that would protect their interests from a nontaxpaying majority. Under apartheid, the economic system in South Africa was controlled by the minority population of whites who, therefore, controlled most of the nation’s wealth. Apartheid was excused for several decades because of the advanced industrialization of the nation. However, due to the carnal nature of man, apartheid was also used to exploit the nonvoting black majority. God’s Word teaches that no people should ever be wrongfully treated because of their race, since all people are created in God’s image. Apartheid was abolished in 1991 and a new government established that provides for equal representation by all races.”
R is for Right-Wing Sexism and Misogyny
There’s nothing wrong with being modest about things; nobody likes a show-off. At the same time, though, there’s something implicitly creepy about telling women they must dress modestly, lest they incite those poor, helpless men into the “sin of Lust.”
Especially when the cartoon teaching the lesson depicts a girl less than 10-year-old.
It’s like the joke about Victorians hiding piano legs, but they’re serious.
This logic implies that women are to blame for the inability of men to control sexual impulses, which leaves open the door to blaming rape victims. Apparently, this 10-year-old is capable of “inciting lust” and it’s her fault if she does; thus, by insisting on “purity,” ACE sexualizes women and girls.
ACE also depicts women as being capable of only doing traditional activities marked as “female”, such as cooking:
But not painting:
So of course, it goes without saying that feminism is doubleplusungood:
I’m not even sure where to start with this cartoon, other than by noting that straw-stuffed “liberated” women aren’t the only ones who have a problem feeding their children.
R is for Religious Bigotry and Religious Authoritarianism
ACE strives to offer different views; there are two characters that provide a “humanistic, worldly aspect of life. These two personalities ‘show up’ throughout the inserts as examples of the consequences of unrighteous living.” They’re named Susie Selfwill and Ronny Vain, because subtly is for the weak.
In their quest to give a balanced look at these different world views, they flesh out these characters as fully realized, three-dimensional beings. For instance, Ronnie is very good with bikes:
He also knows a bit about motivating others:
And he knows all about capitalism and might someday become an industry representative or marketer:
Most of the characters occasionally make mistakes, but Ronny’s every action is so hamfistedly stupid or unprovoked that he comes across as a Captain Planet villain in the making.
For instance, later, he gets a motorcycle and paralyzes one of the characters in the accident. After that, he mocks that same character for needing a wheelchair, since, according to the PACE books, this is just something non-Christians do:
Never fear, however; the giant neon pink hand of “karma”, with the deftness of a nail-studded baseball bat, is here to even the scales. See, Susie, Ronnie’s girlfriend, is killed as a result of an accident and Ronnie winds up destitute. All because he didn’t save 15% on his life insurance policy by switching to Jesus.
Later, a character talks about how Ronnie and Susie had it coming, because they didn’t believe in or follow Jesus. If they’d followed Jesus, and obeyed Jesus, they wouldn’t have this problem.
Which brings me to my last point. The PACE workbooks do a good job of boiling it all down to one thing: obedience.
Blind, submissive, North Korea-style obedience:
You don’t educate someone by telling them what to think; to discourage questioning of authority is fundamentally at odds with the nature of education.
It does, however, fit really well cult-style indoctrination. Cult-style indoctrination, it should be mentioned again, your tax dollars are paying for.