Friday, August 05, 2005

The "Weak" in (National) Review: NRO Editors on Intelligent Design - Well, I'll be! With all the brains (i.e. intelligence) supposedly on display at the conservative standard-bearer National Review, I never would have imagined that I would be reading an editorial that says this:

So a local school board's failure to teach evolution becomes, literally, a federal case: a violation of the Court's version of the separation of church and state.

Whatever the outcome of the debate over evolution, it should be conducted at the local level.
I understand the point here, which is that the editors are taking issue with the courts deciding that the "absence" of evolution in the curriculum is somehow a religious statement in and of itself. But if they aren't teaching evolution in life science classes, then, what are they teaching? One hopes that they are teaching something! But it's the bigger implication underlying this point that astonishes me. If I am reading the editors correctly, they are suggesting that local school boards should be at liberty to decide what to teach in public schools, that there should be no educational standards whatsoever. [In fact, they say as much at another point in the editorial when they write: "There are no national standards that require evolution, or any other subject, to be taught in a certain way in the public schools. Nor should there be."] So that, if the local school board decides simply not to teach evolution, to ignore it altogether, so be it. I can't imagine what the editors of National Review would say if a local school board decided not to teach algebra or U.S. history, or, conversely, if a school board should decide to teach the fundamentals of witchcraft and wizardry or some version of world history predicated on the literalist biblical idea that the earth has only been around for some 4,000 years.

All I can say is that if the local school board in po-dunk city, USA, wants its children to be uncritical intellectual neanderthals, well, I guess, so be it.

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