No surprises to my readers, I am thrilled with Judge John E. Jones III ruling that teaching Intelligent Design is unconstitutional.
I have blogged here countless times about what I find problematic about Intelligent Desgin. For perhaps my most comprehensive post see "Why Do Smart People Fall into these Traps: On Intelligent Design."
Hence, I am not going to rehearse the arguments that I have already made about why I.D. should not be taught in science curriculum.
I am, however, interested in what Andrew J. Coulson, the director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the libertarian Cato Institute, has to say:
I find this tactic to be a rather insidious way for the "libertarian" think tank, which should be interested in preserving the Constitution and committed to rational thinking, to flame the fires of the cultural wars. I have been nothing but disappointed with the Cato Institute since I started following its positions and stances. I have rarely found them take a position that seems consistent with what I think (or, perhaps, naively thought) libertarian ideals are.
When I first entered the halls of the Cato Institute, I was pleased to see folks like J.S. Mill and Mary Wollstonecraft enshrined in a frieze. Being someone who knows a thing or two about both of these thinkers, I anticipated they would arrive at different conclusions than they often do on social issues. I expected the Cato Institute to be much more socially liberal.
Instead, I discover that their best minds identify the causes of the cultural war over intelligent design thusly:
Amazing how rhetoric and sly manipulation of the facts gives the appearance of a reasonable argument. Curriculum that equips students with the ability to think well about the world and that allows them to participate in a pluralistic democracy is turned into "government-sanctioned" views. Moreover, this statement suggest that there are two legitimate sides to the issue of whether or not to teach I.D. in science curriculum.
What is the Cato solution? Divest the federal government from having any role in designing or upholding specific curriculum in public schools, turn full control of the curriculum over to the parents.
I am not sure what the Cato Insitute counts as a "public good." I imagine very few things are. But, it makes me sick, yes, utterly sick, to know that they think we should make education a private, market-driven choice. What sort of hope does a country have if the majority of the citizens have a sub-standard education? You create a permanent underclass, a huge chasm between the haves and have nots, and ensure generations upon generations of folks to live in poverty.
I am sure their analysts have some seemingly reasonable technocratic way to solve the unequal distribution of the public good of educating your populace. I can see the policy plan: make schools compete with each other, give parents vouchers that allow them to choose which school little Johnny can go to, give full control of curriculum to the PTA blah, blah, blah.
Or, perhaps they don't want to solve this problem of education. Afterall, I have heard more times than I care to remember that all individuals are best suited to make choices for themselves. This sort of rhetoric--yes, it is--makes it sound like Cato is the champion of the little people, protecting them from the fascism of any elite who thinks he or she knows better. Fine, fine.
But, how on earth to you expect anyone to make good decisions if you deny them a real education?, which is what would happen if you turn curriculum over completely to parents. Many parents, who themselves received a sub-standard education, will put their children in schools that will continue to keep them ignorant, poorly prepared, and with little hope for economic advancement.
Schools are not for-profit businesses, nor should they be.
Is nothing sacred to these folks?