Under Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education is poised to push forward on the issue of school choice and voucher programs, leading to greater scrutiny of the institutions receiving taxpayer money.
Clearwater Academy International is one of dozens of schools and tutoring centers in the U.S. that use learning materials based on the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the church of Scientology. Five of these schools and tutoring centers, including Clearwater Academy, receive public funding through voucher or tax credit scholarship programs, HuffPost has found.
The materials are supplied by a company called Applied Scholastics, which bills itself as non-religious but "dedicated to spreading educational methods developed by Hubbard."
Karin Pouw, a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology, told HuffPost in an email that while the church “and its members have proudly supported Applied Scholastics in numerous ways through the years ... Applied Scholastics is not part of the Church of Scientology or any other religious organization.”
But the line between Scientology and Study Technology - the learning method developed by Hubbard to teach Scientology - is not always clear.
Leah Farrow, 38, an ex-scientologist who now lives in Alabama and works as a tattoo artist, said the link between the church and school was not always obvious.
“They use methods that are ingrained in Scientology, but they don’t necessarily teach Scientology,” Farrow said. “I can see the loophole that they’re using. I do think it’s pretty disingenuous.”
Beyond the potential blurring of the religious line, the Study Technology method itself has been called into question. Despite a lack of research showing its effectiveness, the materials have been approved for use in public schools as well.
[O]n at least three occasions, Applied Scholastics materials have been approved for use in public schools. According to news reports, the materials have been used in Arizona, Colorado and Florida public schools.