Over at FOXNews.com, Cato Institute Center for Educational Freedom director Andrew J. Coulson proposes a solution to the battle over whether evolution or “intelligent design” should be taught in public schools: more privatization of schooling.
We’re fighting because the institution of public schooling forces us to, by permitting only one government-sanctioned explanation of human origins. The only way for one side to have its views reflected in the official curriculum is at the expense of the other side.
Fortunately, there is a way to end the cycle of educational violence: parental choice. Why not reorganize our schools so that parents can easily get the sort of education they value for their own children without having to force it on their neighbors?
Doing so would not be difficult. A combination of tax relief for middle income families and financial assistance for low-income families would give everyone access to the independent education marketplace. A few strokes of the legislative pen could thus bring peace along the entire “education front” of America’s culture war.
While I’m in favor of more choice in education, I don’t think it would end the culture wars over ID and evolution. What happens at the next stage, when private school graduates start applying to universities? Consider, for instance, this story (hat tip: John Cole):
Cody Young is an evangelical Christian who attends a religious high school in Southern California. With stellar grades, competitive test scores and an impressive list of extracurricular activities, Mr. Young has mapped a future that includes studying engineering at the University of California and a career in the aerospace industry, his lawyers have said.
But Mr. Young, his teachers and his family fear his beliefs may hurt his chance to attend the university. They say the public university system, which has 10 campuses, discriminates against students from evangelical Christian schools, especially faith-based ones like Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, where Mr. Young is a senior.
Mr. Young, five other Calvary students, the school and the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents 4,000 religious schools, sued the University of California in the summer, accusing it of “viewpoint discrimination” and unfair admission standards that violate the free speech and religious rights of evangelical Christians.
A lawyer for the Association of Christian Schools International, Wendell Bird, said the Calvary concerns surfaced two years ago when the admissions board scrutinized more closely courses that emphasized Christianity. In the last year, the board has rejected courses like Christianity’s Influence in American History, Special Provenance: Christianity and the American Republic, Christianity and Morality in American Literature and a biology course using textbooks from the Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book, conservative Christian publishers.
The officials rejected the science courses because the curriculum differed from “empirical historical knowledge generally accepted in the collegiate community,” the suit said. Calvary was told to submit a secular curriculum instead. Courses in other subjects were rejected because they were called too narrow or biased.
With more private schooling, the debate will simply shift to the next level when universities quite rightly refuse to recognize ID-based biology courses as fulfilling science requirements. (One more example here, by the way, of a phenomenon I mentioned recently: religious conservatives — some, at least — adopting the victim politics of the cultural left, complete with daffy lawsuits.) I should add, by the way, that the Christian schools’ association may have a point with regard to the history courses rejected as too “narrow” or “biased”: I’m not sure they’re much worse than a lot of the stuff taught in many public schools under the guise of multiculturalism. But when it comes to science, the universities are on solid ground. We will, no doubt, see more such battles in the future.