18.12.04

AN ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE FOR EDUCATION? Constrained Vision picked up a Will Wilkinson column in which the Menu Board is much like the School Board.
There is a publicly elected “Menu Board” that determines each year’s offerings. You wanted rye this year? Sorry! The Board voted for Wonder Bread. Again! You could, in principle, opt out of the public food system and buy rye, pumpernickel, or seven grain oat-nut crunch at a fancy private store. But you’ve already paid thousands in taxes, and can’t afford to pay twice for everything you eat. The Menu Board picks it. You eat it.
Years ago, you could, in principle, opt out of the public church system. That could get you excommunicated, or killed in such a way that your soul would go to Heaven. Or you could move from Lowell to Lowell Center. Thus, the Establishment Clause.

Today you opt out of the public school system by moving from Chicago to Winnetka. (Or something ... New Trier is on the state watchlist??)

But whether you're at Chicago or New Trier, there is still this little problem. The School Board picks it. You learn it. Or not, as this nugget from Dean's World, involving anomalies in the evolution paradigm, illustrates.

No one said what they thought would happen if children in the science classroom were allowed to be told that there are unexplained problems in current evolutionary theory, or if they heard that some people — even some smart people! — believe there might be some sort of intelligent design behind much of what we see in biology.

So far the strongest answer I've heard (it's the only answer I ever seem to hear, really) is that such a statement is "not science." To which I can only reply, "a belief to the contrary is not science either. Now, is a science classroom a good place for critical inquiry, or is it not?"

Those who vigorously assert that any examination of the question of intelligent design behind life is, ipso facto, a "religion" and therefore has no place in the public schools or any science classroom have yet to convince me of their case.

Unfortunately, as long as local governments hold a monopoly on both designing the curriculum and on providing it, the tyranny of the majority (if it is organized) or of the minority (if it is sufficiently vocal) will get in the way of learning. Time to consider unbundling the design from the provision, which is Mr Wilkinson's position.

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