In a recent op-ed article, the McClatchy-Tribune's Ann McFeatters begins by raising the controversial issue of whether creationism should be taught in government schools. She correctly rejects that notion, but then:
President Barack Obama says he is against teaching creationism as an alternative to evolution to children because it is religion-based. He calls science the never-ending search for knowledge and truth. He says science holds the key to our planet’s survival (climate change). And he says it is time to put science at the top of our agenda.
Notice the subtle switch. What starts out as a legitimate and important discussion about science vs. religion, and how that relates to government schools, morphs into Leftist political advocacy.
Obama is right that religion has no place in government schools. Science is the never-ending search for knowledge and truth, and education is about knowledge and truth.
But science tells you nothing about what to do with that knowledge. And here McFeatters smuggles in statism under cover of science.
We can translate as follows: According to Obama's worldview, climate change is a threat to "the planet"—meaning, the planetary environment unaltered by human activity—and human activity is the cause. Therefore, human activity that drives climate change—so-called carbon "pollution" (fossil fuel use)—must be forcibly curbed in favor of "renewables".
But McFeatters isn't through. In the very next paragraph, she goes on:
[Former and possibly future GOP presidential candidate Mike] Huckabee and many millions like him do not agree. They want “belief” at the top of the agenda, or rather, they want their form of belief. Their belief that America can do no wrong. Belief that their God loves this country more than others. Their belief that scientific findings can be cherry picked and denied. Their belief that parents may decide what truths their children are taught and which are inconvenient.
On the clash between religion and science, McFeatters comes down on the right side; the side of science. But their is a more fundamental clash going on in America; the clash between the individual and the state. And in education, McFeatters come down squarely on the wrong side; the side of the state.
McFeatters is right that Huckabee and his ilk should not be able to impose their religious agenda on the rest of us by law. But consider that last sentence—"Their belief that parents may decide what truths their children are taught and which are inconvenient"—and you'll see where McFeatters is going. She is not against an agenda being imposed, just the Religious Right's agenda.
This is particularly galling since "climate change" has itself morphed into a kind of religious dogma, as Alex Epstein exposes here. McFeatters conflates scientific truth with the Leftist political agenda in a sneaky little package deal, and then hopes to use government schools to impose that agenda under cover of scientific knowledge and truth. We can't have any kind of parental liberty in education, because that would stop anyone, not just Huckabee and company but also the Left, from imposing “their form of belief" on the rest of us.
McFeatters supports substituting Leftist dogma for religious dogma in government schools, with science as the cudgel. In so doing, she highlights the need to get government out of education altogether; i.e., to establish a free market in education. Parents do have a right to "decide what truths their children are taught and which are inconvenient"; i.e., to direct the course of their own children's education.
A free market would bring to an end controversies like whether or not to teach creationism in the schools. Such controversies are inherent in tax-funded schooling, because everyone pays for the schools through their taxes, but some taxpayers’ ideas take precedence over others, forcing some to pay for educational ideas that they oppose. (In this sense, the rights of religious taxpayers are being violated.)
True, in a free market, some parents will "teach" bad ideas to their kids. But they do anyway. As McFeatters acknowledges, "If you think the U.S. education system is doing its job, here's a statistic to contemplate: 46 percent of Americans believe humans were created just 6,000 years ago."
But so what? This doesn’t mean religious parents are necessarily bad teachers. A good overall educational curriculum that fosters independent thinking and love of learning will give the child the proper mental tools needed to critically reexamine and question—as an adult—everything he’s been taught. This will arm him with the independence to form his own fact-and-truth based opinions. A good education sprinkled with religious dogma would be better than a "progressive," Leftist-oriented “education” that fosters conformity to the collective, which leads to submission to authority, which fosters state supremacy. As is generally recognized, private schools—most of which fold religion into the curriculum—do a better job of educating children than do the secular public schools.
McFeatters is right that creationism should not be imposed in government schools. Religion must be kept out of government schools, for reasons of church-state separation. But no one should be able to impose their ideas on everyone else, as McFeatters accuses many religionists of trying to do but which McFeatters herself aims to do with her allegedly science-based ideas. A free education market would accomplish that. That’s the real lesson to be taken away from McFeatters’s column.
Toward a Free Market in Education:School Vouchers or Tax Credits?