Boston Herald ~ Scientology school gets close study

By Dave Wedge | Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | | 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.”

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