Applied Scholastics Tutors Still Approved in 11 States (2010-11)

Applied Scholastics ExposedDuring the 2009-10 school year, Applied Scholastics (AS) was on the approved under Federal NCLB legislation as Supplemental Education Services (SES) list in 14 states. This was slightly higher from our previous report at the end of the 2008-09 school year.

For the 2010-11 school year, Applied Scholastics continue to be approved in 11 states, with reports of considerable questions being raised about the numbers of students actually attending AS classes. Several states who have dropped Applied Scholastics from the approved SES lists have stated that lack of utilization was one of the main reasons.

States that have dropped Applied Scholastics from 2008 through 2010 included California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia and Kansas. The following list is the States where Applied Scholastics was currently approved as of April 2011.

1. District of Columbia [pdf]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

2. Illinois [doc]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

3. Indiana. Contact info is on the same page. (more contacts)

4. Iowa [pdf]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

5. Louisiana [doc]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

6. Massachusetts. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

7. Missouri [pdf]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

8. New Mexico [xls]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

9. Tennessee [pdf]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

10. Texas [xls]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

11. Washington State [pdf]. Contact info to file complaints here. (more contacts)

For more information and additional ammunition for use with countering the cult infiltration disguised as SES tutors in the States listed above, check out the new Applied Scholastics Exposed Info Pack collection of documents on scribd compliments of whyweprotest.net.

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Boston Herald ~ Scientology school gets close study

By Dave Wedge | Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Local Coverage

A Boston city councilor is raising concerns about a pilot school’s proposed curriculum and its ties to an arm of Scientology, while a prestigious Hub charitable foundation is taking a second look at its grant to help launch the controversial school.

“We’re reviewing the grant proposal in light of new materials,” Boston Foundation spokesman David Trueblood said of the organization’s $20,000 gift to the proposed “Cornerstone for Success Academy.”

The Herald reported yesterday that the proposed taxpayer-funded high school would base its curriculum on a model created by Applied Scholastics International — the educational arm of the Church of Scientology. Applied Scholastics officials, however, say the program is not religious and is run separately from the church.

The grant will be used as seed money by a group of Hub teachers pushing for the new pilot school, which needs approval of Boston school and union officials. Trueblood said the Boston Foundation did “no evaluation” and didn’t know of the Scientology link — despite references to Applied Scholastics in the group’s application.

Scientology is a federally recognized religion but has been widely criticized as a destructive, mind-controlling cult. A national anti-Scientology campaign was recently launched by Anonymous, a group of computer hackers and protesters who have blasted the church’s teachings.

Boston Teachers Union spokesman Richard Stutman criticized the Boston Foundation grant as “irresponsible,” in light of financial woes facing existing city schools.

“The $20,000 could be far better used in any of the 144 other schools,” Stutman said. “To them (the foundation), $20,000 is not a lot of money. Tell that to a school suffering hardships.”

City Councilor Sam Yoon has called a hearing on the plan, citing concerns about a taxpayer-funded school with a “hidden agenda.”

“It’s about full disclosure,” Yoon said. “I would want to know if a school I’m considering is basing its entire curriculum on something that comes out of the Church of Scientology and what that connection is.”

In a statement, Boston Church of Scientology spokesman Gerard Renna said the teaching methods pioneered by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard are “tremendously effective.” He added that the curriculum “is entirely secular and recognized throughout the world.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1087424

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Chartwell Educational Consultants Push Study Tech

January 9, 2008 under Study Technology

Former Bush administration Secretary of Education Rod Paige and his former Chief of Staff, John Danielson, have joined together to form an education consultant company called Chartwell.

Chartwell’s website, http://www.chartwelleducation.com/ [dead link] describes the company thusly:

“The firm expands access to the best innovations in products and services designed to accelerate student achievement, and provides strategic services to the private sector and the philanthropic community enhancing their ability to link their investments to education needs.”

One might ask then, why Chartwell is pushing the Study Tech. Surely a former Secretary of Education would have the discernment necessary to identify and utilize effective educational techniques. The funny thing about Americans though, is their mindless affinity toward celebrity. When Tom Cruise seeks out your company, maybe rational thought flies out the door.

For example, Dr. Paige was invited to a premiere screening of Cruise’s latest movie, ‘Lions For Lambs.” Other guests of Cruise were mainly high level Scientologists.

You might wonder where the former Bushite got his invitation from. Turns out, he and Danielson have been using Chartwell and their former positions to push Applied Scholastics on unsuspecting schools.

On Wikipedia, it is noted that, “A professor of educational administration who reviewed the Applied Scholastics text used at Prescott described the concepts as overly simplistic and called the activities ‘moronic.’”

The same article notes, “In October 2005, St. Louis Public Schools superintendent Creg Williams discovered the group’s Scientology connections and immediately put out the word to area principals to cease working with Applied Scholastics. Additionally, St. Louis’ Hazelwood School District superintendent Chris Wright discovered that CEO Bennetta Slaughter had been falsely claiming a “partnership” with Hazelwood. She admonished Mrs. Slaughter to cease and desist doing so.”

And:

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported on September 22 that the district’s superintendent of education has decided that teachers will no longer participate in training programs offered by Applied Scholastics International, a front group of the Church of Scientology. Teachers who had attended these programs were uncomfortable with what they saw there, and complained to their union. School Board member Bill Purdy called for an investigation of the program last week, and after visiting the center, expressed his own concerns about all the materials being labeled ‘based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard.’

Now, Paige is a great score, and a big win for Tom Cruise! Scientology often boasts about using Mr. Cruise to reach world leaders, and Paige and Danielson have credentials that Scientology would hustle for. Mr. Daniels was featured on an internal Scientology video in 2004, discussing education and “the drugging of children.” Former Chief of Staff Daniels is beginning to parrot Scientology propaganda. Scientology is clearly using Chartwell to promote Applied Scholastics. As we can see, it didn’t work in St. Louis. No matter how hard Scientology tries to distance itself, it always comes back to L. Ron Hubbard. And that is often the kiss of death to any program bearing his name. All it takes is a little web research to determine that Applied Scholastics, like all the other covert front groups, are simply a regurgitation of Scientology’s basic, flawed principals.

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WBRZ News 2 Louisiana – The Advocate ~ Study skills class linked to Scientology

Educators say school benefiting

By CHARLES LUSSIER
Advocate staff report
Published: May 29, 2007

Although created by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, a study skills class at Prescott Middle School has impressed initially skeptical local educators who say they see no evidence of religious instruction, but do see profound changes in the children who participate.

“The kids have benefited from the interaction with the trained tutors in positive ways,” said Bob Stockwell, chief academic officer for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.

“I’m all for anything that gives these kids success, and these kids are experiencing success,” said Roxson Welch, a highly regarded former teacher and now an adviser to Mayor-President Kip Holden.

A May 20 story in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times raised questions about the possible religious content and the academic value of the studies skills class, known as Applied Scholastics.

The story prominently featured Prescott Middle School in Baton Rouge, which adopted the class 16 months ago, soon after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

David Touretzky, a research professor from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is perhaps the harshest critic of the program.

On Glenn Beck’s CNN show Wednesday, Touretzky admitted the course doesn’t actively convert children to Scientology. Instead, he described it as “covert instruction in the Scientology religion,” introducing underlying concepts that create familiarity with Scientology.

“What they’re trying to do is gain a foothold for Scientology in civilized society,” he said.

None of the people interviewed for this story, however, have observed anything religious about the program at Prescott Middle, even covert. This reporter, though unaware of the Scientology connection, visited one of the classes last year and noticed nothing religious in the instruction.

According to Scientology literature, Hubbard developed the study techniques now used at Prescott to help the followers of his young religion learn its intricacies and unfamiliar technology — churchgoers still use them. Hubbard, however, decided the techniques were the answer to the problems of education in general.

In 1972, Scientologists started the nonprofit Applied Scholastics as a secular initiative to bring his techniques into schools. In 2001 Applied Scholastics began a major expansion. It reports now that it has licensed the program with 738 different educational entities around the world, including public schools in at least 13 states.

Several prominent celebrity Scientologists, including actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta and singer Isaac Hayes, credit the study technique with improving their own academic skills.

In the wake of Katrina, Hayes and Travolta were two of the many celebrities who visited Baton Rouge offering help.

Bennetta Slaughter, chief executive officer of Applied Scholastics International and a Scientologist herself, said Hayes talked up the program with Holden.

Hayes thought Baton Rouge might benefit from the course, which is taught at her alma mater, Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn.

Holden had a school in mind: Prescott Middle.

The low-performing school had recently revamped itself to stave off a takeover by the Louisiana Department of Education. In spring 2005, Elida Bera was named principal. She hired an almost completely new staff and instituted an ambitious set of changes.

Bera said Holden called her in fall 2005. Bera took a look. In her reading, she saw that Hubbard had created the techniques.

“I’m leery about that,” Bera said. “I’m 100 percent Catholic.”

Applied Scholastics representatives, however, assured her that the program steered clear of religion.

The Scientology connection, however, was not well known in the parish school system. Stockwell, the system’s chief academic officer, said he learned of the connection only after it had begun. He said the main attraction was the price, free.

“The fact that it’s related to Scientology is probably fascinating to a lot of people, but it was not our focus or concern,” Stockwell said.

In January 2006, Bera placed about 140 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in the program. The other students in those grades took a separate, school system-approved study skills course.

By May, when results from last year’s eighth-grade LEAP test arrived, all 20 eighth-graders in the pilot had passed. The passage rate for the rest of the eighth-grade was 77 percent.

Applied Scholastics had a big advantage over the school system studies skill program: a small pupil-teacher ratio of no more than five to one.

Bera, however, said that small classes don’t automatically translate into better results.

“If those teachers are not trained with working with a small group, they would do the same things they would if they were working with a large group,” Bera said.

Another early skeptic was Southern University physics professor Diola Bagayoko. Founder of the Timbuktu Institute, a summer ACT prep course, Bagayoko had already formed a partnership with Prescott, where he helped train teachers and improve parental involvement.

Bagayoko said he did a lot of homework, reading a copy of the curriculum and several books provided by Applied Scholastics. Applied Scholastics is based on the idea that there are three barriers to learning: lack of mass, too steep a gradient and words not understood or wrongly understood.

Although the terminology is unique, Bagayoko saw in these concepts ideas widely used in education, and ones he had written about himself in academic papers.

In practice, he says, he’s been impressed. The tutors are well trained, the students are closely monitored and students can’t move on until they’ve mastered the material, he said.

“The origin of the material is not going to be a stumbling block for me to save the lives of thousands,” he said.

Applied Scholastics has thus far eschewed recognition in academia, particularly getting its results published in education journals. Bagayoko, however, said Applied Scholastic representatives have ample data for educators to evaluate them.

“It’s rooted in the most solid and established ideas of teaching and learning,” he said.

Bagayoko now plans to train Southern students in the study techniques, so they can tutor children at nearby Southern Laboratory School.

Bera has added the program to her budget and hopes to locate tutors for next year. In the meantime, she’s still examining this year’s Louisiana Educational Assessment Program results to see how Applied Scholastics students did, but said other in-house tests show strong growth.

Stockwell said those results may decide whether the school system continues or perhaps expands the program.

Applied Scholastics CEO Slaughter said she hopes Baton Rouge leaders will soon run the program on their own.

“The most efficient method is to hand it over to the people there on the ground,” she said.

JWBRD

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Saint Petersburg Times ~ Church tutors embrace methods

May 20, 2007 under Study Technology

An East Tampa pastor stands united with Hubbard’s study technology program.

By Robert Farley

TAMPA – The red letters on the white sign in front of the Glorious Church of God in Christ read “Free Tutoring in the C.L. Kennedy Center.” An arrow points to a building behind the church.

Every afternoon after school, as many as 42 Hillsborough County public school students gather for tutoring in reading and math skills. Most start with a Learning to Learn course, which teaches the basics of L. Ron Hubbard’s how-to-study program.

The tutors, all wearing red vests, are members of the Glorious Church in East Tampa. They learned how to teach Hubbard’s “study technology” at the Church of Scientology in Tampa.

Glorious Church’s pastor, the Rev. Charles Kennedy, embraces Hubbard’s education and drug treatment programs, which Scientologists say are secular. Kennedy also endorses Hubbard’s moral code, outlined in a pamphlet called “The Way to Happiness,” which is widely distributed by Scientologists.

Kennedy’s bottom line is this: Hubbard’s educational program works. And Scientologists do not push their beliefs. So he sees no reason not to provide it to neighborhood kids who need a boost in academics.

The books used at Glorious Church — like most study tech texts — include a two-page biography of L. Ron Hubbard. The bio does not mention that Hubbard created Scientology. The “about the author” pages are not contained in the books used at Prescott Middle School.

The Church of Scientology in Tampa trains the tutors for free and donates the program’s textbooks for the Glorious Church’s after-school tutoring.

But the program still costs more than $20, 000 a month to operate. Donations from church members and the community pay some of it, but the bulk is subsidized, Kennedy said, by his private businesses, which he refuses to discuss.

He expects more students to enroll in the popular program when school starts next fall. Other Christian churches in Tampa and out of state have contacted him, he said, for advice about starting their own tutoring programs using Hubbard’s methods.

Kennedy’s wife, Yolanda, runs the after-school program. While she and Scientologists have different spiritual beliefs, she said, “in everything else we do in life, that’s where we have found common ground.”

Robert Farley, Times Staff Writer

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LA Weekly ~ Letters to the Editor – December 12-18 issue

Dear Editor:

Sara Catania’s sarcastic piece about L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology ["The Learning Cure'" November 14-20] was a disgrace. As international spokesperson for Applied Scholastics, I have firsthand experience with the work that volunteers all over the world are doing utilizing Hubbard’s discoveries. These individuals devote hundreds of hours of time and heartfelt effort to help both young people and adults improve their study skills. Their work daily changes lives.

As a parent, I also have firsthand knowledge with the application of study technology. There is no question as to its efficacy. It works, plain and simple, and I have a terribly bright and terrifically competent son who reminds me of the fact daily.

There is no good reason to deny students in our public schools access to study technology. Millions of parents have become so desperate that they allow their children to be drugged in the false belief that Ritalin will succeed where the schools have failed. In such a context, how dare anyone suggest that using a dictionary or learning the correct meanings of words could be even slightly controversial?

-Anne Archer
Beverly Hills


Dear Editor:

Sara Catania’s cynical and cursory review of L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology was surprising above all for its naivete. The real problems of illiteracy and educational failure are a serious matter, not a joke, and any effort to remedy them deserves more than offhand sarcasm.

According to a recent report from the California Reading Task Force, a majority of California’s children cannot read at basic levels. These are our children. Yet rather than education, Catania seems fixated on the relationship between Applied Scholastics and the Church of Scientology. I can clear the matter up in one sentence. At Applied Scholastics, we are grateful and proud of the many years of tremendous support we have received from the Church of Scientology – and we will welcome that support for years to come.

Catania also apparently couldn’t find time to interview even one of the hundreds of Applied Scholastic’s volunteers who are working one-on-one with inner-city youth. Or the non-Scientology religious and community leaders who consider Hubbard’s methods a lifeline for underserved minorities.

If Catania had exhibited any real curiousity about how Hubbard’s methods benefit students, she might have had something substantive to discuss with the experts she interviewed. Instead, she presented speculative comments from individuals with almost no familiarity with them. Further, she chose not to interview any of the many experts and educators who do have firsthand experience with their efficacy.

But let’s get down to the real issue – our educational crisis becomes graver with each passing day. And the real story, which Catania chooses to ignore, is that L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology is making a difference.

Let’s face facts. If we do not solve the problems of illiteracy, we could be headed for a new dark age. Hubbard had the courage to provide revolutionary solutions to our 20th-century educational crisis – and we need to raise our sights to the level of a man of such vision.

-Rena Weinberg
President, Association for Better Living and Education
Los Angeles


Dear Editor:

I was surprised and disappointed at the poor journalism in your article “The Learning Cure.” I felt it was written to prove a point, not written from actual research.

I am the founder of a technology company that has grown from two employees to 800 in just over three years. I’m 26 years old, and have been written about in many national publications as a young success.

I never attended college, and I attribute much of my success to my education at the Delphian School of Oregon, which trains its students in the use of Hubbard’s study technology. This technology allows you to get the most out of the study of any subject. Knowing it, I was able to accomplish my post-high school education on my own.

Being able to thoroughly understand any subject you tackle is an invaluable skill, and Hubbard’s study technology made this possible for me. If Catania had taken the time to objectively interview several people who actually use Hubbard’s technology, she would have discovered that they were thriving in their studies, and actually studying faster than previously.

I walked away from that article with the feeling the author had an ax to grind. Why? The “crisis of education” is a national concern, and everyone agrees that our school system needs major reform. We need something that works in schools and makes universal education possible. If Hubbard’s technology is working, why attack it?

-Sky Dayton
Founder
Earthlink network Inc.


Dear Editor:

The answer to the question “Can L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology make kids smarter?,” posed and never answered, is an emphatic “Yes!”
It is very easy to be a critic. It is not so easy to roll up one’s sleeves and step in to help people who are having difficulty in literacy and learning, as the volunteers, parents, tutors and teachers involved with Applied Scholastics are doing every day.

Study technology is not an untried theory, but a proven system whereby a person can become self-sufficient in any learning environment using effective “tools,” including a dictionary. The result of this process is that one understands and can use the information being learned – a goal that education is seeking in our fast-paced techno-society. These tools for learning are not some new study aid or memorization technique or phonetic-reading program. Rather, these tools are part and parcel of the subject of how individuals learn, combined with actual procedures and methods of applying these principles on an individual basis, to give one the means to grasp any subject.

Central to Hubbard’s study technology is a delineation of the primary barriers to study that constitute the underlying reasons for most educational failures. Educators may speak of “learning disabilities.” Their students are failing to learn because no one has taught them how to learn, how to identify the barriers to learning and how to overcome these barriers.

A few key symptoms that study technology overcomes include why a student gives up on a particular study (often after initially liking it), why they appear dull and confused after certain studies, and what is the primary reason that students drop out or lose interest in learning.

-Ian Lyons
President
Applied Scholastics International


Dear Editor:

Excellent article. I hope that you are left in peace after publishing it.
I am glad that word is getting out on Applied Scholastics, as it very much is a vehicle to get L. Ron Hubbard technology and ethics into the “WOG” world.

-Betty Rhodes
Los Angeles


Dear Editor:

I’d like to commend Sara Catania and the L.A. Weekly for publishing this article, and I hope you will stand up against Scientology harassment. Your article investigated the heart of the topic: whether this study technology has any educational value. The scholars quoted in the article confirmed my own opinions, based on my experience at university and at work.

I think that Word Clearing (looking up every word in the dictionary) is a thought-stopping technique. like counting sheep or saying “Hare krishna” 2,000 times. While such techniques are excellent to get to sleep or to get obedience, they are counterproductive in an environment where individual thinking is important. This certainly applies to all schools in the Western world.

-Tilman Hausherr
Berlin, Germany


Dear Editor:

Despite the plain-vanilla fluff and rather uninspired teaching techniques that Scientologists try to push into the minds of schoolchildren, there are really only three things that Scientology teaches well: manipulation, deception and the selling of $cientology.

Make no mistake about it – Scientology’s front groups, including those that purportedly offer “”earning technology,” are all pieces of bait on a large, aggressive and expensive hook. The organization itself was founded by a con man and continues to be led by those who will go to great lengths to silence critics and former members of the cult.

-Mark Dallara
Tampa, Florida


Dear Editor:

Fantastic, excellent work by Sara Catania. She and the Weekly should be commended for the production of such a frank and accurate description of Scientology’s study technology. As a mother and a taxpayer, I thank you. I shudder to think of my children being educated with such mind-controlling, thought-stopping material

-Sandra Jamison
Robins AFB, Georgia

Copyright © 1997, Los Angeles Weekly, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Wichita Eagle ~ Quality of tutors goes unchecked

April 24, 2007 under Applied Scholastics, Study Technology

by Icess Fernandez

Here’s a word problem for you: There are two tutoring programs in a Wichita school. One is very structured, complete with math worksheets and teachers giving direction. The other focuses on helping students explore learning with such techniques as playing with dough. Both are part of a $1 million federally mandated experiment. Which one will be the most effective in raising students’ assessment test scores?

Answer: No one will know until next year. And that’s the real problem, some local educators say.

In the Wichita school district, 583 students from schools with a high percentage of low-income families are enrolled in such after-school tutoring services.

The federal No Child Left Behind law, which aims to make all students proficient in math and reading by 2014, requires that school districts pay for these private tutoring services. In Wichita, the bill to taxpayers is $1 million.

But monitoring the students’ progress and holding tutoring programs accountable has been an issue since the law’s inception. The law is up for reauthorization by Congress this year.

The Kansas State Department of Education selects these “supplemental educational services providers.” Critics say there isn’t a provision for measuring whether their programs do any good.

Once parents sign a contract with the tutoring provider, the school district has very little say.

“If parents choose it, we have to go with it,” said Susan Smith, the Wichita district’s Title I director. Wichita is spending an average of $1,800 per student.

In the middle are the parents, who want to ensure their children do well in school, and the students who need help in reading and math.

State education officials concede that the system needs work.

“The big issue is evaluating the effectiveness,” said Judi Miller, the state Department of Education’s assistant director of state and federal programs.

Helping poorer students

Hamilton Middle School, which has been praised for closing the academic achievement gap between races on assessment tests, has 106 students signed up for private tutoring. The district is required to pay for it using part of its Title I money, federal funding for schools that have high percentages of low-income students.

Only parents of students whose family income qualifies them for free or reduced lunches can sign up, and only if they attend Curtis, Hamilton, Marshall, Mead or Pleasant Valley middle schools or Caldwell Elementary — all Title I schools that did not meet certain minimum standards on state tests for four years. The district has several other Title I schools.

Parents chose tutoring providers for their students after attending an informational meeting.

At Hamilton, two providers — Achievia Tutoring and Applied Scholastics International — help students with math. This is the first school year that both have worked with Wichita students.

Achievia, the company that most Hamilton parents chose, uses schoolteachers as tutors. Students work on math problems individually, using cards that are similar to worksheets, while their tutors offer guidance.

Parent Poppilyn DeLano said she has already seen some changes in her sixth-grader’s grades.

“He comes home and he’s more eager to do homework,” she said. “He’s not struggling with comprehension of math.”

Applied Scholastics uses a different approach, targeting why kids can’t learn.

“Students come in with many gaps,” said Mary Duda, director for research and development. “So when they have skipped gradients, students feel confused. We teach students about barriers so that they are independent learners.”

In a recent visit, students were tracing pictures out of a book and working with playdough to learn about why they are not succeeding. “They understand that learning depends on them. When they have that,” Duda said, “they realize that it’s very liberating.”

Deloris Fogle’s sixth-grader is being tutored by Applied Scholastics. She preferred tutors who didn’t already know her son, she said; she wanted to see if they could help in ways his teachers couldn’t. He’s been in the program for two months.

“I don’t feel he’s been there long enough” to see significant change in his school work, she said. “But what I have noticed is that he’s comfortable doing assignments.”

There are five other tutoring providers working in the Wichita district: ATS Project Success, Club Z Tutoring, Huddle Learning, Jefferson Learning and Urban League of Kansas.

Each one functions differently. ClubZ, for example, does individual tutoring in homes, but ATS Project Success sends home a computer and there is never any direct human contact, Smith said.

“They have to have a pre- and post-test, but that’s pretty much it,” Smith said.

The state uses federal criteria to determine whether an applicant can become a Kansas tutoring provider. Requirements include showing the program is:

• High quality and research-based

• Designed to increase academic achievement

• Consistent with district curriculum and state standards

• Secular, neutral and non-ideological

They also have to detail how they will ensure children are learning and how they will measure it.

Which method is best?

The Wichita district does spot checks and has set some basic ground rules for working with its students. But when it comes to the companies’ approach or tutoring curriculum, the district can’t interfere, said Jackie Farha, the district’s Title I improvement supervisor.

Monitoring the private providers isn’t written into the law, said Jeff Simering director of legislative services at the Council of Great City Schools, which represents 66 of the nations largest urban school districts, including Wichita. And he doesn’t know of any data that says additional tutoring by a private company works better than a teacher’s additional face time.

Miller, of the Kansas Department of Education, agreed that even if a student’s test score increases, there is no way to tell why: Maybe it’s the tutoring program; maybe it’s something a classroom teacher is doing.

Or maybe it’s something else altogether: Perhaps the student’s home life is less chaotic or a health problem has cleared up and he’s better able to focus on school.

Tutor monitoring

Although it doesn’t have direct authority, the Wichita school district is monitoring on its own. It does spot checks to make sure providers show up and that the district is being charged for tutoring and not baby-sitting, Smith said. It is watching students’ academic performance closely.

“Every kid is being tracked, because if it’s not working, there will be changes,” said Wendy Lowmaster, Hamilton’s tutoring program coordinator.

The district will report its findings to state education officials.

Smith said the district already has a reputation among tutoring companies of being “hands on.”

“We have a vested interest,” she said.

And parents with concerns are being encouraged to contact their school principal, who will give the message to her office, Smith said.

The state review occurs annually, when — and if — providers reapply to work in Kansas.

Miller said she hopes to have a system for increased state oversight in place by next school year.

Reach Icess Fernandez at 316-268-6544 or ifernandez@wichitaeagle.com. © 2007 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kansas.com

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Saint Petersburg Times ~ Scientology makes it in classroom door

March 20, 2007 under Applied Scholastics, Study Technology

by Robert Farley

BATON ROUGE, La. – Inside the industrial looking brick walls of one of Louisiana’s poorest performing middle schools, Scientologists finally have achieved a longtime goal.

A study skills curriculum written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is being taught as mainstream public education.

All the eighth-graders at Prescott Middle School are being taught learning techniques Hubbard devised four decades ago when he set out to remedy what he viewed as barriers to learning.

The curriculum and textbooks used by Prescott’s 156 eighth-graders are similar to methods and books used among Scientologists worldwide. And teaching the children is a Scientologist hired by the school district.

Scientologists helped usher Hubbard’s program into the school during the chaotic months after Hurricane Katrina. Celebrity Scientologists John Travolta and Isaac Hayes played key roles, as did a former Clearwater resident known for her persuasive voice.

The people who run the program say Hubbard’s teaching technique is divorced from Scientology, that it is just a masterful way to learn. They note that it has won the support of many non-Scientologists, including a number of academics.

Other experts, though, question the quality of the program. And some church skeptics fret that it is an insidious plan ultimately aimed at promoting Scientology.

Prescott’s principal had those same concerns. But after closely monitoring the program for more than a year, she is confident Hubbard’s program is not teaching Scientology.

All she knows is that the school’s long-dreadful scores have turned around.

* * *

“Can you show me what ‘squashed’ looks like?” veteran educator Carol Woodruff asks a student.

The girl makes a sour face.

“Good, ” Woodruff says. “Can you draw it?”

The girl draws a stick figure with a frown.

Woodruff nods. That’s how you sometimes feel if you are learning something and you don’t have “mass, ” she explains.

Hubbard believed a key to learning is having the thing itself, its “mass, ” in front of you.

A “lack of mass, ” Hubbard taught, can cause physical reactions in a student, such as eye irritation or dizziness, or cause feelings like being squashed, bent, lifeless, bored or angry.

That’s why students at Prescott often fashion objects out of clay and use small stones and common objects such as paperclips and rubber bands to represent what they are studying.

Hubbard identified two other barriers to learning.

The second barrier is trying to learn on “too steep a gradient.” One must learn the fundamentals of ideas before moving on to more complex levels.

The third barrier is misunderstood words. When students don’t understand a passage, it’s because it included a word they didn’t understand. Hubbard’s curriculum teaches students to find the word and grab a dictionary.

Students who yawn or doodle are told to “find your misunderstood.”

These concepts are hardly revolutionary. Teachers have long known the value of hands-on learning, the need to build new concepts on the foundation of prior knowledge, and that it is important to understand the meanings of words. Where study tech is different, proponents say, is that Hubbard identified specific and absolute physiological responses to his three barriers to learning. For example, if you yawn, it is always because you misunderstood a word in the last passage you read.

The Baton Rouge School District hired Woodruff, a Scientologist, to teach five 90-minute classes each day. Helping her are another full-time teacher and a half dozen unpaid teacher aides, mostly teenagers from a private school in Oregon that uses study tech. They volunteer for three weeks at a time, fulfilling a community service requirement at their school.

Their presence also assures that Hubbard’s program has the advantage of student to teacher ratios of no more than 5 to 1. The program is self-directed, and students are broken into small clusters of desk. Kids work at their own pace and an instructor is available at each cluster to give one-on-one attention.

A science fiction writer, Hubbard created Scientology in the early 1950s. He taught that a person is a spiritual being called a Thetan, whose mind has a “reactive” or subconscious side that stores mental images and is not under a person’s control. Through spiritual counseling called “auditing, ” he taught, a person can solve personal problems by locating these images and addressing them.

According to Scientology literature, Hubbard began researching the barriers to learning when he noticed some Scientologists struggling with their courses.

Hubbard released his “study technology” in 1964, touting it as a way not only to help Scientologists, but also to solve the world’s struggles with education.

In 1972, Scientologists founded the nonprofit Applied Scholastics to advance Hubbard’s “study technology” outside Scientology. Nothing in its literature notes any ties to Scientology. Nor should it, they say; his study curriculum is secular and, therefore, appropriate for public schools.

It’s used in hundreds of after-school tutoring programs, but perceived ties to Scientology have slowed its expansion into the core curricula of public education. School districts in San Antonio, the St. Louis area and Nevada backed off the program after parents or educators voiced concerns.

In 2001, Applied Scholastics bought and renovated a former retirement home of the sisters of Notre Dame outside St. Louis. The building, on nearly 100 acres, became Applied Scholastics’ headquarters.

Watching from afar was Clearwater’s most prominent Scientology parishioner, Bennetta Slaughter. Time and again, the savvy coalition builder and respected community volunteer persuaded members of Clearwater’s civic establishment to be accepting of volunteering Scientologists.

To Slaughter, Applied Scholastics’ purchase of the St. Louis property signaled a commitment to serious expansion. She became chief executive in 2001 and in the years since, Applied Scholastics recorded dramatic growth.

* * *

Prescott Middle is in a predominantly black neighborhood of small, aging homes with chain link fences and convenience stores with bars across the windows.

More than a quarter of its students have been held back at least two years. Another quarter are special education students.

Prescott was the first Louisiana school to be “reconstituted” two years ago as a result of enduring academic failures. Elida Bera was hired from Texas to take over the school and essentially start over.

“The school was horrible, ” she says. She kept just 10 of the school’s 75 employees.

And that was before Katrina.

Hurricane evacuees made their way to every corner of southern Louisiana. Prescott’s classes swelled.

After Thanksgiving of 2005, Bera got a call from the office of Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden. He had a program he thought the school should consider. He had been visited before and after Katrina by Slaughter – the chief executive of Applied Scholastics.

Holden also had met Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, when the two actors came to Baton Rouge after Katrina. Musician Isaac Hayes, a longtime proponent of Hubbard study tech, also put a word in Holden’s ear.

At Holden’s suggestion, Bera met with two representatives from Applied Scholastics. She had done her homework on the Internet. Her first question: What does this have to do with Scientology?

“I’m so glad you asked, ” Bera says she was told. “We want to put that on the table.” They said the program has nothing to do with Scientology other than sharing a common architect.

Bera was sold. The Baton Rouge school district agreed to pay $20, 000 a year to Applied Scholastics for a licensing fee and to hire a teacher from the nonprofit to help teach the course. Costs were offset by seed money that Travolta contributed and by donations from local businesses. Parents were enlisted to volunteer as tutors.

Bera rolled out Hubbard’s classes as a pilot program for a small sample of students in grades six, seven and eight. She was impressed when Applied Scholastics reps asked her to put the most challenging students in the pilot classes.

Positive results came fast, astonishing Bera and district leaders. Absenteeism dropped. Students became more involved in their studies. But the real affirmation was in the LEAP test scores, Louisiana’s version of Florida’s FCAT. Every one of the 20 eighth-graders in the pilot passed in the spring of 2006. Among the Prescott students not in the pilot, 77 percent passed.

Bera decided to teach the program to all of Prescott’s eighth-graders during the 2006-07 school year.

Last week, the LEAP scores came in. In English and langauge arts, the students performed just slightly better, with 78 percent performing at a level of “approaching basic” understanding or higher. That’s an increase of one percentage point. But math scores increased from 52 percent competency last year to 59 percent this year.

Bera said last week she was “very happy” with the scores, though they remain well below district and state averages. Next year, in addition to teaching the program to all eighth-graders, she plans to make it available to all grade levels as an elective.

Several Prescott students picked by the school for interviews said they like the study skills program. They said when they find themselves struggling with a subject, now they know ways to identify and attack the problem.

Tanika McDaniel, 14, said she was skeptical at first, but it became fun. “You want to see how far you can get, ” she said. “And the next day, you want to get even further.”

Jonisha Williams, 15, said the program has given her “a whole new reading strategy.” And it gave her a system to “find out what’s wrong with me when I don’t understand something. I know how to break down paragraphs and find the main idea.”

It has helped her with her passion, writing poems. Now she knows and uses bigger words.

“It helps you out in other classes, ” said Reginald LeBrane, 13. Before he took the class, he said, he got A’s, B’s and C’s. “Now, ” he said, “it’s all A’s.”

None of the students said they know who L. Ron Hubbard was.

* * *

The folks at Prescott Middle School aren’t the only ones buying in. Diola Bagayoko, a professor at nearby Southern University and CEO of the Timbuktu Institute, a nonprofit think tank on teaching practices, has become a cheerleader for Hubbard’s program.

Study tech puts knowledge into a hierarchical order, one idea building upon another, he said. Students pass tests before they move on to the next ideas, so “progress is assured, not assumed.”

It’s the best program he has seen, he said. “I would like to see this in many more schools.”

The obstacle is money. The program requires lots of one-on-one instruction. Next year, Bagayoko has arranged for student teachers from Southern to be the teacher aides at Prescott, replacing the teen volunteers. But that model is too costly to be expanded beyond Prescott, district officials say.

Slaughter also provided the Times a letter of enthusiastic endorsement from Venetta Whitaker, a University of Missouri professor and former assistant superintendent for the Los Angeles United School District.

“This application allows students to become more accountable, self-directed and self-advocating, ” Whitaker wrote, “while teaching them strategies and skills to help them think, learn and develop more of their potential over an entire lifetime.”

The Times asked two independent academics to review the study tech text used at Prescott. Both were underwhelmed.

“It’s hard to believe that someone is putting stock in this, ” said Linda Behar-Horenstein, a professor and distinguished teaching scholar in the department of educational administration at the University of Florida. “I’m a little stunned. It ignores everything we know about brain-based learning.”

She criticized the concepts as overly simplistic and the activities “moronic.”

“I can’t imagine kids sitting still doing this, ” she said.

Also alarming, she said, is that there is no research to back up whether the concepts work, whether the program is cost-effective and how students fare over time.

The lack of peer-reviewed research was also of concern to Michele Gill, assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Central Florida.

If used as an after-school program, Gill said it would be “fairly harmless and could be somewhat helpful.” But, she said, “I would not want to be taught this way.”

The text is prone to overstatement, she said, like the idea that if you are bored it is always because of a misunderstood word. That may be a good first place to start, but sometimes kids know the words, “but they are hungry or their parents are getting a divorce.”

So how to explain the success at Prescott?

Both said a likely key is the low teacher-student ratio. It also could be attributed to the quality of the instructor.

“There are other things at play, ” Behar-Horenstein said. “It may not be the curriculum at all.”

While critical of the program, neither of these experts saw any hidden Scientology agenda or proselytizing in the text.

According to one of the program’s harshest critics, Dave Touretsky, a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, that’s only because the academic experts don’t know the intricacies of Scientology.

Study tech is “covert religious instruction” and therefore unconstitutional to teach in public schools, said Touretsky, who has studied Scientology and written extensively about Hubbard’s study skills curriculum.

The vocabulary used in Hubbard’s texts echoes the language of Scientology, he said. For example, using “misunderstood” as a noun – as in, “Find your misunderstood” – is part of the argot of Scientology. He also calls the physiological effects attributed to various barriers to learning “nonsense” and “like believing in Bigfoot.”

Scientologists will use the program at Prescott to sell the program to other struggling communities, Touretsky said, and to promote the image of Scientology.

The idea, he said, is probably not to convert people directly, but rather to establish Scientologists as “do-gooders” and then to “slip in more Scientology down the road.”

That’s essentially how it worked for Tom Cruise. The actor has said Hubbard’s study tech helped him improve his reading and writing – and piqued his interest in Scientology.

Slaughter said it’s absurd to characterize study tech as a recruitment tool for Scientology. Sure, she would love for people to check out Scientology, she said, but the study tech program is purely secular. The only fair criticism is that she has been slow to get it peer reviewed.

“I don’t have to justify this, ” she said. “What I care about is that it is working and making a difference for children. I don’t need to care about anything else.”

Robert Farley can be reached at farley@sptimes.com or 727 893-8603.

Fast Facts:

CEO gives Applied Scholastics a boost

L. Ron Hubbard’s study skills program is advanced worldwide by Applied Scholastics, a nonprofit organization that Scientologists created in 1972. It has racked up impressive growth since former Clearwater businesswoman Bennetta Slaughter became chief executive six years ago.

- Hubbard’s study tech now is licensed for use in 738 private schools, community centers and after-school or tutoring programs, more than twice the participation levels from when Slaughter took over (many other programs use its ideas). Florida has 24 such programs, 23 of them in Clearwater, the church’s worldwide spiritual headquarters. The other is in Miami.

- Applied Scholastics has significantly increased its training of private and public school educators. It reports training 45, 000 since 2001 at its headquarters outside St. Louis, compared with 50, 000 trained in the three previous decades.

- Applied Scholastics has licensed 112 private schools to use study tech. Another 3, 500 schools use study tech in some way, Slaughter said.

- Globally, Applied Scholastics has made its biggest strides in Africa, where it claims to have taught thousands of educators who are exposing study tech to hundreds of thousands in Nigeria, South Africa and other nations. Slaughter said 2.6-million worldwide were taught study tech last year.

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St. Pete Times ~ Editorial: A Curious Alliance

November 9, 2005 under Study Technology

Two Tampa churches say they have formed an alliance with Scientology as a vehicle to provide helpful programs to their needy communities. The pastors of Glorious Church of God in Christ in east Tampa and Joy Tabernacle Cathedral in Ybor City are enthusiastic supporters of programs inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and are encouraging their members to utilize the programs and help others discover their benefits.

Members of both churches are learning Hubbard’s so-called “study tech,” which is a method of studying that Hubbard designed and which he claimed improved learning. The church members hope to teach “study tech” to children in the churches’ neighborhoods.

Glorious Church also will host, and its members will help teach, an after-school, phonics-based reading program operated by Bright Sky Learning, a Clearwater-based company run by Scientologists. Public money, as much as $1,300 per child, will be paid to Bright Sky through the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

What’s in all of this for the two churches? Both ministers say their mostly low-income, minority neighborhoods need these kinds of programs. Pastor Charles Kennedy of Glorious Church also wants something more material: He hopes that Scientologists will help pay for construction of a community center on the church grounds – where Kennedy wants to teach Hubbard techniques to more people.

Neither minister seems troubled by linking their Christian churches to Scientology. They say the Church of Scientology doesn’t push its religious practices through the programs and “they don’t recruit people.”

That statement is naive at best. The Church of Scientology does recruit – in fact, it has an extremely active recruitment center in Ybor City. It has missions in towns all over America whose purpose is to market Scientology and recruit new members. However, the church has scored perhaps its biggest gains with a more subtle approach: weaving itself into the fabric of communities through programs that may offer benefits but also familiarize enrollees with the concepts and unique lingo of Scientology while sharing little of the controversial history of the church.

Scientology is getting something very valuable out of its alliance with Glorious Church and Joy Tabernacle: public acceptance in an area the church is targeting for recruitment. If the two churches really want to be helpful to their communities, they will avoid becoming mere mission outposts for Scientology, and they will explore the whole range of public and private programs that could provide valuable services to their neighborhoods.

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Saint Petersburg Times ~ Spiritual symbiosis: A surprising one

October 30, 2005 under Study Technology

Some area churches are embracing teaching methods devised by the Church of Scientology. Tutoring. Anticrime. Antidrugs. Everyone seems comfortable, as long as it all stays secular.

By ROBERT FARLEY, Times Staff Writer

TAMPA – It’s Monday night, and 13 teenagers gather at the Glorious Church of God in Christ, a predominantly African-American church in a working class neighborhood of East Tampa.

The teens bow their heads and pray Jesus will make this a productive evening. Then one hands out pamphlets titled The Way to Happiness.

“Be worthy of trust” is the passage the kids read before launching into a discussion of moral issues touching on race, sex and honesty.

The concepts aren’t unusual for a Christian teen group, but the author is. The Way to Happiness is a moral code written by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology.

And the Way to Happiness class is just part of a relationship between the Glorious Church of God in Christ and the Church of Scientology.

About 20 Glorious Church members have been schooled on Hubbard’s study technology at Scientology’s Tampa facility on Habana Avenue. Soon Glorious Church parishioners plan to teach Hubbard’s so-called “study tech” to children in their neighborhood, where one in five live in poverty.

The Glorious Church also hopes to host Narconon and Criminon programs based on the teachings of Hubbard and aimed at drug treatment and criminal rehabilitation.

Both programs have been labeled ineffectual and thinly disguised recruiting tools by Scientology detractors. But the Rev. Charles Kennedy, the pastor at Glorious Church of God in Christ, is convinced they could help his community overcome illiteracy, drug addiction and crime.

“I need what they are doing to fulfill what I’ve been praying about,” he said.

There’s more.

Next month, Glorious Church parishioners will begin tutoring neighborhood kids through an afterschool program known as Bright Sky. The federal No Child Left Behind law requires Hillsborough school officials to use public money for private afterschool programs, which will get up to $1,300 per child.

Although Bright Sky is not connected to the Church of Scientology and does not use Hubbard’s study tech, it was created by Scientologists as a for-profit company.

All of this adds up to an unusual, if not unheard of, alliance between a Christian church in the Tampa Bay area and the Church of Scientology and its members.

* * *

To understand the relationship, one must look first to Pastor Kennedy.

“I’m not your normal pastor,” Kennedy said. “I’m an enigma.”

Kennedy, 63, is a Tampa native. But he left town as a young man and traveled the world as a professional saxophone player before returning to Tampa in 1972. Glorious Church of God in Christ started with a five-person prayer group and was chartered in 1980. Kennedy has been its pastor from the start.

Kennedy said he learned about Scientology while in Clearwater for a business deal unrelated to his church last year. He met Ed Best, a Scientologist and president of Ebony Awakenings, a small chapter of black Scientologists.

Kennedy attended an Ebony Awakenings banquet and learned about various Hubbard-inspired programs. He knew of the church’s often-controversial image, but his brother-in-law got off drugs through Narconon, he said.

So Kennedy and about 20 others from his 154-member church began taking weekly courses at the Church of Scientology in Tampa, located in two renovated cigar factories on Habana Avenue.

Kennedy said he cried when he took one course on learning.

“Where has this been all my life?” he asked.

Kennedy’s wife, Yolanda, calls the basic study tech “one of the most exciting courses I’ve taken.”

But she draws the line when it comes to Scientology’s “auditing” sessions and other religious practices.

“I’m of a different spiritual persuasion,” she said. “I’m very happy with the balance I have between the two of them.”

Pastor Kennedy said he doesn’t worry that some of his flock may decide to become Scientologists.

“One thing I appreciate” about Scientologists is “they don’t care what your faith is,” he said. “They don’t recruit people.”

* * *

In its three decades in the Tampa Bay area, the Church of Scientology has never before enjoyed such a level of acceptance and cooperative interplay with another local church.

Lynn Irons of the Church of Scientology Tampa said his first conversations with Kennedy touched on religion only briefly.

“We made an agreement,” Irons said. “When we help with literacy and crime and drug addiction, then you and I are going to talk really seriously. How about that?”

Study tech concepts are purely secular, Irons said. There’s “word clearing,” which means not passing over a word you don’t understand. Another core concept is “mass.” Or, as Irons said, “if you are studying about a tractor, it’s good to have a tractor in front of you.”

The program also stresses progressing from simple ideas to more complex ones. Trying to learn too fast on “too steep a gradient” impedes learning, he said.

Kennedy isn’t the only local pastor planning to use the study tech.

Archbishop Clarence Davis of Joy Tabernacle Cathedral in Tampa’s Ybor City heard about the Hubbard programs from Kennedy and also is a fan.

Davis said he thought Scientologists were “kooks” before he took a course on learning how to learn. Despite holding three graduate degrees, Davis said the program taught him a lot. The religion of Scientology has been a non-issue, he said.

“I’m happy because they don’t push the religious aspects,” he said. “If they did, I wouldn’t be involved.”

Eight members of his church are training to become instructors in the Hubbard methods, Davis said.

But church critics say the study tech is simply a Scientology recruiting tool to introduce people to terms and concepts used in the Scientology religion.

In Missouri, a school district superintendent has taken on the Applied Scholastics program, which distributes the study tech materials.

Such materials reflect Scientology church doctrine, said Hazelwood School District superintendent Chris L. Wright. “Because of this association, we have elected not to participate or be associated with their programs,” she said.

Some educators also question Hubbard’s study program.

“I just think it’s a lot of (garbage),” said Johanna Lemlech, a University of Southern California professor emeritus of education. In a review of the program in 1997, Lemlech said Hubbard has a confusing, unclear writing style and his study tech books belong “in the cylindrical file.”

* * *

Along with learning about study tech, Glorious Church of God in Christ members have been trained as tutors for Bright Sky Learning, a Clearwater-based reading program that is branching into afterschool tutoring this year.

This year, the Hillsborough School district will funnel more than $8-million to private afterschool programs.

The Bright Sky program – to be taught in a building behind Kennedy’s church – will not employ Hubbard’s study technology, he said. Rather, it is a phonics-based program devised by Scientologists.

“It so happens they are Scientologists,” Kennedy said. “But Bright Sky is not Scientology. It’s just education.”

Brendan Haggerty, CEO of Bright Sky Learning, said his company’s program does not include any study tech. Glorious Church members were certified to teach the Bright Sky program at the Church of Scientology in Tampa only because they were taking other courses there and they asked to do it there, he said.

But there is potential for confusion. Asked whether Glorious Church tutors would incorporate Hubbard study tech concepts like “word clearing” into the Bright Sky program, Yolanda Kennedy said they would. Haggerty said she was mistaken.

This year the state certified the Bright Sky program to provide afterschool tutoring. The company said in its application that students who took its program in other states improved one to 21/2 grade levels.

In addition, in a Bright Sky tutoring program at the Boys & Girls Club of Jasmine Courts in Clearwater, teachers noticed significant improvement in the students’ reading, writing and comprehension skills, the application stated.

“It wasn’t bad,” said Carl Lavender, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast. “There were a couple parents who saw it as very helpful.”

The program, paid for through private fundraisers, specifically targeted some students in danger of being held back a grade, he said, and “it was effective.”

At Glorious Church, Kennedy said he hopes to use some of the proceeds from the afterschool program to go toward a new community center behind his church.

Nancy Sardinas Lambert, who supervises the No Child Left Behind programs for the Hillsborough school district, said there are no restrictions on how programs spend the money as long as they provide the required services.

But the afterschool tutoring program will not bring as much as hoped. As of Friday, only nine eligible students had selected the Bright Sky program at Glorious Church. Haggerty said Glorious Church’s take will be about $900 per student, out of which it must pay the tutors. The church had hoped for as many as 100 students, so the enrollment is disappointing, Haggerty said, but he noted it is an off-campus program in its first year.

Kennedy said he anticipates Scientologists will help donate money to build his church’s new community center. Once built, the center will be a place where neighborhood kids can experience the Hubbard learning methods, he said.

It’s unclear the degree to which the secular Hubbard programs such as study tech are evangelical, said University of South Florida religious studies professor Dell deChant.

“Do people join because of them? Well, of course, they must,” he said. “Is it a self-conscious missionary tool? I don’t know.”

Scientology is a unique religion, deChant said. Its members claim you can continue to practice another faith and still be a faithful Scientologist. And many non-Scientology groups hand out The Way to Happiness, which never mentions the word Scientology.

Pastor Kennedy is comfortable with it. He said he can find a Biblical source for all of the morals in the booklet.

And just before the Monday night meeting ended with a prayer, Yolanda Kennedy made sure each student had a second Way to Happiness booklet.

“Make sure,” she said, “you give that book to someone tomorrow.”

© Copyright 2003 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved

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