religious freedom done very, very wrong

August 15, 2012

worshiping crowd

The citizens of Missouri recently approved a “right to pray” amendment by a landslide, which would be huge news if the Constitution of the United States didn’t have an Establishment Clause and there was a law against being a practicing member of a religious group. But it does, which raises the question of why would the citizens of Missouri vote to have a right they already have. Well, if you look at the sneaky clause stating that “no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs,” then you’ll probably note the Religious Right’s typical sneaky tactic of using an existing protection for religious freedoms, tacking on something it really wants, and portraying it as an extension of a basic an inalienable right to believe. Well, a denomination of Christianity. Other religions will have a tougher time being accepted even if they try to use the exact same laws the Religious Right fought to institute.

Now, this is just not good reasoning because under this logic, I could justify that because I’m an atheist and never liked that whole “under God” thing on money, much preferring a return to “e pluribus unum” as the official motto, I could just whip up my own money with the motto which meets my views and use it instead of the officially recognized legal tender. Sure, sure, atheism isn’t a religion, but the Establishment Clause grants me free speech and we can argue that my free speech and beliefs regarding religion are constitutionally protected so I should be allowed to counterfeit. But I’m pretty confident that the Secret Service would disagree with my opinion of the law were I to start printing my own “godless” bills and have much more of a legal leg to stand on when they send me to a federal penitentiary. You see, the right to free speech doesn’t entitle me to always get my own way in everything. Secularists can understand that. The Religious Right, convinced of its own divine moral superiority, simply cannot.

As far as the fundamentalists are concerned, religious freedom can only exist when they’re given preferential treatment and allowed to get their own way every time. If they can’t do as they wish with nary a peer from criticism, they’re being oppressed by hateful sinners and heretics. And God forbid that the delicate little ears of their precious children be forced to hear scientific facts. They would so much rather rehash the same talking points that have been publicly debunked and eviscerated countless times by anyone who passed a science class when it comes to evolution and cosmology, and leave it at that. So this is why they’re trying to make it sound as if closing one’s ears and screaming “la la la, I can’t hear you!” is somehow sane or acceptable behavior in schools when teachers present the findings drawn from millions of papers and hundreds of years of research rather than bow to the zealots and start science class by flipping to the first page of Genesis and proceeding to read it word for word.

Science is not optional. Facts are not optional. There are a lot of facts and findings that I don’t very much like either, but if they have strong evidence behind them, I have to listen to them. Any creationist kook can vomit a Gish gallop and then refuse to accept when he’s proven wrong but that won’t make DNA stop being a double helix, or invalidate natural selection, or make the stars 6,000 years old. To claim that we knew more about the world 2,000 years ago then we do today, and that the vast bodies of work that created the modern, technologically advanced civilization where men have walked on another world were crafted by bedeviled heretics whose only goal is to remove the godly from their faith in a conspiracy lasting since the 1500s, is utterly absurd. But this is exactly what the Religious Right in the United States does day in and day out, coming up with more and more excuses for their intolerance of other faiths, ideas, opinions, and ways of life, and ways to pettily defend their seemingly fragile faith.

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  • Bruce Coulson

    The difference between law and science is that the law seeks to make a decision; science tries to find out what is correct. The two can agree…but don’t have to. From a legal standpoint, a decision that conflicts with the facts may be unfortunate, but does not (in and of itself) invalidate that decision. This is why the religious reich seeks to use the law to enforce their desires.

    With the law on ones’ side, you can ignore facts and science. Granted, this only goes so far; but it’s safe (in the short run) to ignore and outlaw evolution, as opposed to gravity and motion, which impose immediate consequences.

  • Brett

    You just know that some of the conservatives supporting this bill are going to raise heckles when a muslim student uses the “right to pray” rules. It’s like what happened in Louisiana with voucher money that could be applied to religious schools – they balked when they realized that it might not just go to pay for fundamentalist christian schools.

  • venqax

    Wow. We’re really mixing some apples, oranges, and ugli fruit here. The Establishment Clause has nothing to do with free speech. In fact, in has nothing to do with religious exercise. All this amendment does is protect the rights of religious expression in school (some districts do prohibit religious books, prayers, or even religious discussion on school grounds, despite court rulings that such prohibitions are not required by the Constitution). In that sense, the students’ right to free exercise (from the Free Exercise Clause, not the Establishment one) is violated and the rights in question are not “already protected.” And the amendment simply excuses students from counter-religious instruction. It in no way requires the teaching of creationism, or other non-scientific concepts. No, such intentional blindness does nothing to negate the fact of evolution, but people have the right to believe whatever they want to, regardless of its empirical validity. The monetary analogy would be that you, as an objecting atheist, can refuse to use money with In God We Trust (not Under God, that’s the Pledge of Allegiance) on it. You can. It does not authorize you to print your own money instead. It’s worth noting that the Catholic Church—hardly fundamentalists—supported this, and that the main criticism of it is that it is redundant and unnecessary, not that it proactively does anything bad. And no one is being required to fund anything with this. IOW, it has absolutely no affect on the irreligious at all.
    “…freedom can only exist when they’re given preferential treatment and allowed to get their own way every time. If they can’t do as they wish with nary a peer from [sic] criticism, they’re being oppressed by…” Homophobes, perhaps? Just to show that a slight change in character labels makes this statement applicable to another group that, by comparison, has been much more assertive in trying to make everyone act and speak as they wish. What are they forcing anyone to do? Science is not optional, but learning about it is. I am neither a fundamentalist or a believer in general, but people have the right to their own beliefs and should have to live with the consequences of them.

  • Greg Fish

    The Establishment Clause has nothing to do with free speech.

    It’s intimately tied to free speech and it disassociates the church from the state since America would be right back where it started were it to recognize a state religion since the King of England was the de facto head of both the church and the state.

    In fact, in has nothing to do with religious exercise.

    Ok, now you’re just starting to split hairs. The clauses are individual sentences that come from the First Amendment and I’m sure that you, as well as every other reader, know exactly what I meant, even if they happen to have a J.D. and 30 years of experience in the courtroom.

    The key provisions reviewed here is that the government is not supposed to interfere with free exercise of religious practice. This is exactly where things get tricky with an evangelical religion because to it, proselytizing, wanted or unwanted, is free exercise and the government is not to interfere. At the same time, one can’t really have free exercise when it would curtail others’ rights, or at least that’s the legal theory. At the same time, public institutions must remain secular.

    The violations you’re talking about are not sanctioned legal policy, they’re bureaucratic panic by school administrators who are so afraid of an ACLU lawsuit, they violate religious rights. But while we should take these cases on a district by district basis and remind those who punish students for a private prayer in the lunchroom or bringing a Bible to school that they’re out of line, the Religious Right pretends as if this was a personal vendetta of a heretical administrator against Christians, who by the way, is probably a regular churchgoer if you follow the typical demographics of America.

    And this approach to the debate is not rational or factual. The view of the Religious Right is that it’s them against the anti-Christian aggressors, not that they’re believers in a multicultural society that tolerates a wide range of beliefs and ideas, and it seeks to make its members into victims even when they’re they ones doing the bullying. Observe the anti-bullying laws for which it wanted an exception that would basically boil down to “it’s o.k. to punch queers in the nose as long as you say you did it for Jesus.” In this amendment, they wanted the power for a student to walk out of a classroom rather than challenging his or her beliefs in an act of intellectual cowardice.

    And the amendment simply excuses students from counter-religious instruction.

    As well as opens the door for future sneaky bylines which would allow students to write “God did it” on a science test and expect an A+ without a challenge. Missouri is not the first state where such bills were introduced and voted on, it’s just one of the least aggressive. This has been the pattern for years. The Religious Right tries to make exemptions for blind faith against the world, then scales them back in a different state when the exemptions it tries are too aggressive. I’ve seen this movie before, I know how it ends.

    It in no way requires the teaching of creationism, or other non-scientific concepts.

    Nothing in the post said this was the case.

    No, such intentional blindness does nothing to negate the fact of evolution, but people have the right to believe whatever they want to, regardless of its empirical validity.

    Then they should go to a private or voucher school where they can be taught that the Earth is 6,000 years old, Noah rode a T. rex to build the ark, and that George Washington became president because Jesus elected him after writing the Constitution. If they expect to have their right to believe whatever they want respected, they shouldn’t be staging their histrionics in public schools during a science or history class. I didn’t go to religious schools and storm out in demonstrative fury when evolution was pooh-poohed. They shouldn’t go to secular schools and act this way. It’s the lack of respect and recognition of other ideas that ticks me off here more than anything else.

    What are they forcing anyone to do?

    Well, the Religious Right forced the United States to change its motto in the 1950s, promoted more than a century of backward laws that held back public health by decades, and now would like to drag us back. Let’s not pretend that this amendment is just about protecting the students’ right to believe whatever their parents taught them. This is a case where you can connect the dots based on three decades of precedents in courtrooms and legislative institutions all across the country. Or need I remind you of the “intelligent design” endeavor?

  • venqax

    The Establishment Clause has nothing to do with free speech. No, it really doesn’t. Yes, it prohibits an official church, like the CofE, but that has nothing to do with speech. In the UK today, still, they have an official church. They also have freedom of speech (sort of) and free exercise (you don’t have to belong to the official church.) Those “individual sentences” are not simply grammar elements. They are clauses that have their own meanings and importance. The Free Speech Clause gurantees just that—and it has nothing to do with religion. A lot of the upset over this does in fact come from the very hostility toward religion that many secularists do in fact have, and that has a genuine, thriving existence outside the paranoid minds of the religious. The fact is, fortunate or unfortunate as your opinion sees it, religion has a specially protected place in American civic culture. Hence those clauses in the very First amendment to the Bill of Rights. The “secular” schools, as you call them, are public schools. They belong to everyone, including the religious, and must accommodate everyone, even the religious. The religious schools, OTOH, are not public. They don’t belong to the secularists, so the secularists do not have a stake in them. You could, of course, have private atheist schools that could avail themselves of the same double standard, but on the whole you don’t. And you don’t need them. Atheists today can be quite satisfied with the typical public school program. Yes, evangelical religions can pose a free exercise problem, but that isn’t the issue here. This amendment is defensive. Christian fundamentalists are under attack. Their values are being assaulted. Sure, some of those values, like hostility toward parts of science and rationalism, we would probably agree deserve challenge and active push-back. But the push-back they are getting goes far beyond those issues into ones of completely subjective values. And “secular humanists” are exceedingly naïve if they think any group is simply going to give up and allow its culture to be destroyed. The fundies aren’t the only ones with an agenda that has easy dots to connect. And the secular Left isn’t all about science, rationalism, and improvement of the human condition by a long shot. BTW, I don’t think any Christian groups “forced” Congress to formalize the In God We Trust motto—which had been around for over a hundred years. Trying to force your will, e.g. creationis or ID, is one thing. Simply saying that you want yourself opted-out of something is another. I feel sorry for kids who don’t get a decent science education, and for those who propagandized by the leftist bent of “social studies” all through their public school careers. But this initiative specifically seems entirely defensive and rather innocuous. And it isn’t stepping on anyone’s free speech rights.

  • Greg Fish

    “They belong to everyone, including the religious, and must accommodate everyone, even the religious.”

    There’s accommodation and there’s groveling to religious zealots. The vast majority of students in public schools don’t complain about getting in trouble for practicing their religion and for every incident of an overreach by an administrator against a religious student you can fund one of an evangelical teacher or administrator trampling over secularists. Right here in my city there was a teacher who electrocuted crosses on his students’ arms and there was a horde of Bible-thumpers to defend him at board meetings. Luckily sanity prevailed and he was fired but it tool two years.

    The problem is the extremism. But whereas atheist overreach generates a little noise and that’s that, school boards bow before religious throngs demanding their beliefs be taught as fact. You’re saying that we should push back against intolerance and aversion to fact. Well, science class is exactly the place to start doing this push back.

    I don’t think any Christian groups “forced” Congress to formalize the In God We Trust motto—which had been around for over a hundred years.

    Try 66. It was instated in 1956 with a push from religious fundamentalists saying that the motto Americans used since 1782 didn’t differentiate the U.S. from the Godless commie menace.

    I feel sorry for kids who don’t get a decent science education…

    But God forbid we interfere with the right not to get it because public schools are for everyone and we should let their parents deny them from learning about real science?

    and for those who propagandized by the leftist bent of “social studies” all through their public school careers.

    So sociology, anthropology, history, business, and psychology are liberal propaganda rather than sciences? Hmm, not sure why I wasn’t aware of this. Maybe because it’s an accusation based on political partisanship rather than any actual facts…

    Also, there’s a writing convention known as a paragraph. Would it be too much for me to ask if you’d be willing to try it sometime in the near future? Makes your comments easier to read.

  • venqax

    “There’s accommodation and there’s groveling to religious zealots”.

    Agreed, but this is not a case of that. Again, the only thing this does is excuse those who want to be from instruction that they don’t want. It does not force anything on anyone. Quite the opposite. And who exactly is groveling? I think this was referendum wasn’t it? The PEOPLE voting directly on the issue?

    “But whereas atheist overreach generates a little noise and that’s that…”

    I wouldn’t say that by a long shot. Ever since the first attempts back in the 60s to ban school prayers, to the present when legal battles are still being fought over voluntary prayer in schools, religious organizations in schools, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, atheist activists have been front and center extremely active and garnering at least as much attention as their opponents, probably more, usually via lawsuits since they don’t tend to have a lot of public support.

    …”school boards bow before religious throngs demanding their beliefs be taught as fact.”

    But that is exactly what this is NOT about. This is school boards bowing to the people, heaven forfend! And those sorts of demands never win in the end anyway. Creationism can’t be taught, legally, in public schools. I’m not sure what other beliefs you’re concerned about. In fact, this isn’t even about prohibiting evolution from being taught, which some have tried to do. This just says that those who object can be excused from learning about things that offend their religious beliefs. Gay lifestyle issues might be another example. I certainly would not want my elementary schooler exposed to something like that from public school teachers. Or maybe sex ed is the issue. Some people object to their children being taught about sexuality in schools, whether they think the information disseminated is correct or not. Don’t they have that right? I think parents, not the state and its inevitably inept and politicized bureaucratic minions, should have primary say in how their children are raised.

    “You’re saying that we should push back against intolerance and aversion to fact.”

    Well, fact, yes. Intolerance is relative. It isn’t advisable to tolerate everything. The controversy is where that line should be drawn. I am not, like some on either side of the political spectrum, someone who advocates that children should be taught basic morality and values by the public school system. That idea is, frankly, horrifying.

    “I don’t think any Christian groups “forced” Congress to formalize the In God We Trust motto—which had been [emphasis mine over the original] around for over a hundred years. Try 66. It was instated in 1956…”

    No, I’m saying that motto, In God We Trust, had been around—had been on money, in fact—for a long, long time before it was officially adopted by Congress in 1956. Theodore Roosevelt commented on it in the 1890s (he opposed it, too). Undoubtedly Congress did it because they thought it would be popular. In general, they were right. That’s a far cry from being “forced” to do something. Pandering, maybe, but not coercion.

    “I feel sorry for kids who don’t get a decent science education… But God forbid we interfere with the right not to get it because public schools are for everyone and we should let their parents deny them from learning about real science?”

    Pretty much, yes. Parents damage their kids in all kinds of ways. But I would never trust the state to do a better job except in the most extreme cases of abuse.
    “So sociology, anthropology, history, business, and psychology are liberal propaganda rather than sciences? Hmm, not sure why I wasn’t aware of this.”

    I don’t know. Maybe because your own POV accepts it and doesn’t recognize the revisionism. But I didn’t say they were not science—I’m a social scientist myself—I said that what is taught in schools is often larded with bias, propaganda, and fiction almost all from the political left. Did you know that Columbus was an evil proto-Nazi, whose purpose was to destroy an idyllic civilization? Colonists gave Indians smallpox infested blankets to kill them en masse. About 10% of the population is gay and a much bigger portion have homosexual tendencies. All civilizations were originally matriarchal. The ancient Egyptians—maybe even the Greeks—were Black sub-saharan Africans and white people stole civilization from them. The US stole the western part of the country from Mexico.The main goal of the Confederacy was to keep slavery. The purpose of the US Constitution was to oppress the poor, and we got the whole idea of democracy from the Indians. Did you know all of this? You would if you went to an American public school in many parts of the country in the past 30 years.

    My apologies for the formatting. Some gets lost when I transfer it from Word and I don’t take the time to fix it. I should. Most physical scientists I know couldn’t tell a paragraph from a paratree with a parartridge in it. I appreciate your exceptionalism.

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    Venqax, I went to a public high school and got a degree in anthropology from a state school (both in the Northeast) and I’ve never heard a single one of the individual claims you are citing as having been taught in many parts of the country over the last 30 years. Most of them sound like deliberate exaggeration or twisting of what is actually taught and some sound like you just made them up.

    Can you cite actual text books that are teaching these things as you are claiming they’ve been taught? Because I am genuinely shocked by the list and have a hard time believing it to be real. I’m open to being proven wrong, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t take your word for it.

  • venqax

    All of those are examples that I myself, my siblings, my children, and/or my nieces and nephews were told in their school years. You still hear the infected blankets story regularly reported as fact. I am not saying that I or anyone else I know was taught ALL of these things. My sister learned in the 4th grade how horribly wrong it was for us to celebrate Columbus Day, and that was in the 1970s. Another one I forgot was the “fact” that Shakespeare didn’t really write his plays, courtesy of my son’s Honors English teacher. But that is probably more urban myth passing as fact than any political agenda. Did you really not learn that the CW was all about the evil slavemasters against the altruistic North? That is standard fare even in many college US history textbooks. The afro-centrist stuff had a really good run for a while in urban predominantly black school districts. I was on a committee that reviewed some of these “texts” in the 90s and even the early 00s. Remember, Howard Zinn is considered a great historian by most in the educational field.

  • capierso

    “I was on a committee that reviewed some of these “texts” in the 90s and even the early 00s. ”

    Would you mind telling us what this committee was, and who sponsored it? All ears.

  • venqax

    The designated external committee of the state Board of Education (later the Dept. of Public Education) to review the social studies and humanities curriculum for the state’s– in this case New Mexico– public schools. So far as I know everyone on it was a profressor of some social science or humanties discipline from some higher ed instittion. I must admit the submissions were much more outrageous than those actually adopted. At least in my areas. Leonard Jeffreys. Even I was shocked at that.

  • Greg Fish

    Venqax, I’ve heard a lot of stories about kids being taught highly questionable facts like you mention but I’ve never actually seen them in textbooks. As for not trusting “the state” to do a better job of teaching students than parents who object to hard facts, one wonders who you would trust to educate them…

  • venqax

    I wasn’t only talking about education, but raising children generally. When it comes to instilling basic morality and values, I would avidly hope that parents, families in general, communities of some sort, ANYTHING but the government would be doing that. There is no getting around the fact that a state monopoly on values/moral learning is a hallmark of totalitarianism.

    As far as regular “education” or book-learning types of things (notice my paragraph there! We respond to consumers here at Venqaxco.LOL) I would say private education. Not necessarily simply religious education by any means, but a competitive private marketplace of providers like you have for pretty much every other service. There should still be state involvement; funding, curriculum minimums, etc. Just anecdotally, which is worth squat, but I am not a religious Christian let alone a fundamentalist, but I could easily come up with an educational map that is exponentially better than what the states come up with, that I would send my own kids through. I’m sure you could too.

    BTW, what is in textbooks doesn’t correlate that strongly with what is taught. I picked the most outlandish examples (in my opinion, unfortunately not in the opinion of many educators) to make my point, and most of the books that pushed these points did not make it throught the vetting process. But what is imparted in the classroom is quite a different matter. The horrors of the post-Columbus Western Hemisphere, the reading of Daddy, Papa, Mommy, Mamma and Me, the “success” of the New Deal, and every long-discredited stereotype about the Civil War are not at all unusual in today’s public schools. Most people probably aren’t aware of how much they or their children “learn” is wrong or subjective at best. There is a huge literature out there on the politicization of, particularly, history and civics, textbooks (to the extent that civics is even taught anymore. It’s gone from many public schools now). And the complaints are by no means only from the right. The left probably has MORE problems with history texts, and pushes teachers to teach “counter” to them regularly.

  • Greg Fish

    So you’d basically have taxpayers pay into private schools which would then teach kids according to the whims of their parents as long as they uphold some basic standards? How would this be any different than the system we have now aside from schools making a profit off of this? In conservative states, students are more likely to hear right wing revisionism. In more liberal ones, left wing revisionism can sneak in. You’re just making this a feature rather than a bug.

    As for the laundry list of stuff that’s supposedly wrong with what kids are taught nowadays, it sounds as if you don’t get your kind of history in the classroom and therefore you’re upset. For example, the New Deal was a lot better than no deal at all and there’s a vast amount of literature showing that it did help. It didn’t lift the U.S. out of the Great Depression, World War 2 did that, but it prevented an utter collapse of the economy. Native Americans were indeed chased off their land and forced into reservations because. And yes, Lincoln didn’t free all the slaves, it was the amendment he inspired that did. If you have issues with these facts, I’m afraid that’s your own personal problem.

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    Venqax, I asked you to provide citations and you responded by repeating your claims and then expanding your position to include teachers who don’t follow the curriculum… a curriculum that by your own admission, does not use textbooks that teach these examples.

    So shouldn’t your problem be with teachers and not the system that they exist in? Shouldn’t you be arguing for stronger regulation of what they’re actually teaching in schools, not the privatization of the entire educational system where teachers who have an agenda could simply find a school that buys into their particular viewpoint? If the textbooks are mostly steering clear of this misinformation, then shouldn’t we be pushing for teachers to stick closer to them, and thus closer to state approved curricula?

  • venqax

    So you’d basically have taxpayers pay into private schools which would then teach kids according to the whims of their parents as long as they uphold some basic standards?

    Well, yes. Of course what you might consider a “whim” and “basic” standards would be the key to this whether it’s an improvement. What we have now is the “whim” of educrats or school boards, and what they consider to be “basic”. Maybe you trust them. I don’t. The difference would be that at least parents could choose what kind of indoctrination their children received—if you think that is all education should be. And the difference would be that taxpayers wouldn’t be put in the horrid spot of having to fund one set of biases they disapprove of, while paying again in private tuition for ones they do. If you think there is somehow an equal problem of kids in conservative places getting fed those biases, then this would address that as well. Evidently you do think there might be biases, but some are conservative, so the liberal ones are OK? Or you don’t think there are biases at all? Not sure what your position it.

    I think the problem is that your world of numbers and quantities simply isn’t as amenable to obfuscation and mayhem as are more relativistic disciplines like humanities and social studies. So this issue doesn’t cross your personal radar screen. The fact that you buy into the simplistic notions you mention highlights this. E.g. MANY economists, not just a few, agree that the ND prolonged the Depression. It was, in fact, NOT categorically better than nothing. And the idea that the suggested alternative to the ND was “nothing” is a prime example of the straw man argument you readily perceive on another post. But that POV is not taught at all. I am not saying the ND-was-a-failure model should be taught exclusively, but that the received wisdom that the ND helped the Depression is simply not inherently true. And teaching that it is reinforces more erroneous notions of what is economically advisable now. But , if you believe the ND was what it’s taught to be in public schools, you’re in the realm of the unknown unknown so you’re fine with it.

    Of course the ND, is just one example of this. And the leftist bias of “social” subjects is a tangent, too. Back to the main point of your post: Why do think a referendum of an entire state (not just some small fundy pressure group) that passed overwhelmingly, and says religious kids can be excused from “irreligious” teachings in public schools qualifies as 1) NOT an example of upholding freedom of religious exercise 2) an example of suppression of speech, 3) a violation of the Establishment Clause, or 4) a minority imposing its will on the majority? It seems almost directly opposed to “groveling to zealots”. In fact it seems to be almost exactly the opposite of more than one of those things. Is it simply no more than you don’t like religion?

  • Paul451

    venqax,
    “and every long-discredited stereotype about the Civil War” [that] “The main goal of the Confederacy was to keep slavery”

    This puzzled me, I’ve heard people try to claim that the southern secession wasn’t about slavery, but even the simplest reading of their own statements (such as the “Declaration of Causes”) shows that their primary concerns were abolitionist States not enforcing the Fugitive Slave act and the election of an abolitionist President.

  • Greg Fish

    What we have now is the “whim” of educrats or school boards, and what they consider to be “basic”. Maybe you trust them. I don’t.

    So Venqax, it sounds to me that you’re upset that you don’t get to call the shots more than anything because your entire idea is predicated on your trust for parents to indoctrinate kids they way they want them to be indoctrinated without having them exposed to different ideas. But that’s what education is all about, challenging worldviews, not simply reciting what’s said in the classroom. Both you and the vast majority of politicians miss this fact very, very badly.

    Evidently you do think there might be biases, but some are conservative, so the liberal ones are OK?

    No, my point was that you’re basically saying to parents “ok, pick a bias and indoctrinate your child as you wish” and have the taxes go to private schools that will cater to the prevailing bias. That’s a horrible, terrible, awful, no good model of education. It’s paying someone to brainwash your child as you’d like him or her to be brainwashed. I’d want my children to question what I tell them because they’re learning to think for themselves and build their own worldviews. Evidently, you don’t like that.

    MANY economists, not just a few, agree that the ND prolonged the Depression.

    And there are many economists who agree that it helped. Facts are not a popularity contest and the issue of the New Deal gives it a mixed review, as I said. And on top of this, keep in mind that most economists agreed that the mortgage industry was going to keep on growing in late 2007 and that it really did produce viable AAA bonds. Economics is more art than science in many ways.

    And the idea that the suggested alternative to the ND was “nothing” is a prime example of the straw man argument…

    This is not what I wrote at all. I wrote that the New Deal was better than nothing, not that no one had any alternative proposals.

    But that POV is not taught at all.

    Actually, since I was in high school and according to what I’ve seen, the New Deal is described as a decidedly mixed bag, with some things like relief and public works projects helping and others being a money pit that failed to do much.

    I am not saying the ND-was-a-failure model should be taught exclusively, but that the received wisdom that the ND helped the Depression is simply not inherently true.

    So according to you and “MANY economists” the New Deal was a failure and it’s liberal revisionism to say that it helped, and parents should be able to pick the bias they want their kids to have when it comes to education, but you shouldn’t teach this model without counterpoints you ascribe to liberal malice? I’m not following your grand logic here.

    Why do think a referendum of an entire state (not just some small fundy pressure group) that passed overwhelmingly…

    Big whoop. Jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t make you right. If you don’t understand why I have a problem with this, I suggest you read the post again. It gives people an excuse to brainwash their kids and opens up an academic Pandora’s box in which a parent’s ideology decides what kids get to learn. But you’re fine with it because as long as those damn hippies from gubmit don’t get their mitts on textbooks, it’s kosher.

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    venqax, do you plan to address my last point?

  • venqax

    Yes, Damian. Sorry, I thought I had posted this, but obviously didn’t. No, Damien.
    I said as that textbooks and curriculums are not the same thing. And what is actually taught in the classroom—directly and indirectly—on a daily basis is yet another thing still. IF you want citations just go to Amazon. You’ll find many books that espouse the various positions mentioned. Or, better yet, refer to the huge literature out there on bias in school curriculums, which must be new to you, but is by no means a new discovery by the politically motivated on all points of the spectrum. Much of it claims it’s the Right that biases the books—somehow I’d bet you wouldn’t have trouble believing that, with or without any citations. LOL.

    Yes, teachers are a problem and they are an integral part of the system. Yes, if you are determined to keep education “socialized” to use a loaded, but not entirely inaccurate, term, they need to be better monitored. But, like many things, the problem would be much better addressed not by more regulation (Teacher Monitors) but by letting the market place of ideas play out. This is especially true if those doing the monitoring would be government employees. Foxes and henhouses, etc. Really, the idea of elected school boards is supposed to serve this oversight function, but it doesn’t seem to work very well. Yes, let teachers with an agenda find schools that fit that agenda – honestly and openly. What you have now, like it or not, is teachers in sync with specific ideologies teaching them in the public classrooms, without either—no monitoring AND no competition to fret about—and in many cases being encouraged and rewarded for pressing whatever that agenda is. IOW, it’s almost as bad as higher education, colleges and universities, where ideology has been passing for erudition for even longer.

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    venqax, your first paragraph is a textbook (if you’ll forgive the pun) bit of trolling. I don’t think you’re a troll, but that opening argument swings well into trolling territory as the “you can find citations for my claims if you just look through this huge pile of data!” is a time honored tradition among those who are engaging in sub-bridge internetting.

    If you want to support the claims you are making, find the citations you claim are out there and provide us with the links. Don’t expect us to do the heavy lifting for you when the burden of proof is on you.

    As for what I am willing to believe about text books or not, your assumption is nothing more than just that… an assumption. I believe the religious right has been pushing to undermine good educational texts in favor of their religious viewpoint, but that for the most part those attempts fall flat. For some proof of this, here are some links to news stories about recent attempts.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html
    http://www.aolnews.com/2010/03/12/texas-removes-thomas-jefferson-from-teaching-standard/

    And of course, we shouldn’t need to provide citations about Kitzmiller v Dover as it’s as well known a case involving schools as exists.

    For the most part, I would guess text books are mostly alright as they are. I certainly wouldn’t argue that there is a strong right leaning bias there.

  • venqax

    Damian, I’m not sure whether you’re serious or not. Are you claiming that you don’t believe in bias in schoolbooks or that you are not even aware of the controversy or accusations regarding it? I don’t think the latter is possible, given that you at least seem aware of some religion-borne attempts at it. You do say you think schoolbooks are ok, by and large. Maybe you have only heard about the religious rights’ efforts re evolution? Otherwise I don’t know why you’d think the Kitzmiller case was relevant to what I said. That really did deal with the Establishment Clause, unlike the Missouri referendum of the post. What kind of citations do you want, exactly? Cites of the claims being made? If you see referring to the issue of curriculum bias as “trolling”, I don’t know how to respond. The first book I know of specifically about liberal bias in books is “Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s textbooks” by Paul C. Vitz which came out back in the 80s, and AFAIK kind of kicked off the right-wing push-back to the alleged left-wing dominance. There is stuff by Larry Schweikart, a historian, regarding mostly bias in history teaching, quite a bit by David Horowitz on the left bias in general and in economics education, Robert Maranto of the AEI writes about it frequently, a piece from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni journal May 2006, called “How Many Ward Churchills?” that got a lot of attention, and from orgs like Accuracy in Academia and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. If you don’t know who Ward Churchill is, I’m afraid I don’t have a cite. But he does, ASFIK, exist. He was a college professor, but of course professors are who write HS textbooks. A lot MORE has been written about left-bias in higher ed than in public schools. If you are not aware of that issue either, I don’t know what to say. The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Children Learn by Diane Ravitch is good take on how the left has overreached in attempts to “balance” traditional accounts that are right-biased in their opinions. If it’s just my specific examples you doubt, then just forget them. Refer to the researched and footnoted versions of the issue, not me. I can’t tell you, e.g., who first claimed that the toilet was named after John Crapper, that Napoleon was short, or that bees ar aerodynamically unsound, but the info is out there all over the place. And none of it’s true.

    None of the above is meant to prove that right-wing bias doesn’t exist, too. Lies My Teacher Told Me by Loewan is a well known book claiming that. The incidents you cite regarding attempts to force religion into curriculums are valid “citations” of that accusation, at least. And yes, a tremendous amount has been written about right-wing, pro-American, pro-white, anti-working class, etc. bias in school books, too. Probably more given the bent of most scholars who are likely to write about any of this stuff. Are you not aware of that either? Are you aware of the so-called “Culture Wars” and what either side’s casus belli are? The teaching of social studies in public schools is a pretty front-and-center one.

    Many of the “Texas cases” (and there are a lot them) are premised on the idea that there is an anti-religious or anti-Christian bias in school books on history and sociology, rather than just on creationism issues in biology books. Most of the conservative criticism of textbooks is not founded on religious issues, but on perceived biases in history and economics texts. And most of the Texas state textbook adoptions have not been overturned by courts. Meaning, there is a lot more to text bias than just ham-fisted attempts to impose creationism or ID into science programs. Something that I oppose, too, for what it’s worth. Just as a personal example, I have here on my desk a textbook from Pearson Prentice-Hall—not perceived as some extremist crypto-communist press so far as I know– currently being used in classes, called Politics in States and Communities, by Thomas Dye and Susan MacManus, that informs us matter-of-factly in a chapter about education policy that one of the purposes of public schools is to make minority students feel better about themselves. Really. No kidding. I must have been absent the day that was voted on, since an assertion that bold must be backed up some enormous piles of public and professional opinion data. And most often, bias is not false “facts”, but a matter of emphasis and POV. E.g. one of my US history books has 3 chapters out of 12 devoted to Indians. The qualms I might have about the info in it are really ancillary. A QUARTER of a book that is supposed to be a general overview of US history? Come on. What I am asserting is that based on my own experience teaching this stuff over the years, I think the liberal bias in social studies ed (especially history and economics) is common and worse in its effects than that from conservatives. In the hard sciences, I think the anti-evolution movement is the most troubling. Nonetheless I would guess you are right to say most textbooks don’t do a horribly obvious job one way or the other.

  • venqax

    Back to the real point, if I may. You still haven’t said exactly how a popular referendum is groveling, and who it’s groveling to? How is excusing students an Establishment violation? And what does it have to do with free speech in any way, shape, or form? You haven’t made these cases. In any case:

    …it sounds to me that you’re upset that you don’t get to call the shots more than anything because your entire idea is predicated on your trust for parents to indoctrinate kids they way they want them to be indoctrinated without having them exposed to different ideas. But that’s what education is all about, challenging worldviews,

    No it’s not. Not K-12 education, anyway. Public ed has always been used as socializing, even a propagandizing agent. The bias is always going to be there, no matter what you do. So an agreed upon POV has to be chosen. It’s not that I trust parents per se, but I don’t trust public bureaucracies or politicians. So, again, yes, I would say parents—who are also the bill payers and voters, BTW—should have some say in what the officially sanctioned POV is going to be. Minimums can be set regarding facts, or well-attested-to things, vs. rampant and unbridled speculation or baseless assertions. The Establishment Clause, properly applied, would help with that. But that is all. Of course parents should have more to say about their children than govt officials do. I think you have a hard time arguing otherwise in a democratic country.

    It’s paying someone to brainwash your child.

    I guess we disagree on the extent to which that is what is done NOW in many public schools. I think the choice is your child being taught facts through the lens of your worldview vs. someone else’s. And when that someone else is a govt bureaucracy, God (or Something) help us all .You seem to have poor regard for politicians, but trust in government. That strikes me as hard to reconcile.

    MANY economists, not just a few, agree that the ND prolonged the Depression. And there are many economists who agree that it helped. Facts are not a popularity contest .

    Agreed. My point isn’t that either of those positions is right or wrong, but that the anti-ND POV, in my experience, is NOT taught. There was no mixed bag in my or my children’s’ education regarding the relative failure of the ND. Similarly the entire issue of states’ rights—probably the biggest point of division in US history and politics—is glanced over in most history books which simply focus on the single states’ rights ISSUE of slavery.

    I wrote that the New Deal was better than nothing, not that no one had any alternative proposals. Then why mention that it was better than nothing? And how do you even know that’s true?

    So according to you and “MANY economists” the New Deal was a failure and it’s liberal revisionism to say that it helped.

    No, I think the ND Saved Our Bacon was the original tack most histories took, and I think the books should give a balanced report of what economic historians really think. But if they won’t, then yes, a bias has to be picked and that pick should be up to parents. Just how likely or possible do you think values-neutral accounts of this sort of thing can be? I know that the ND as success story is well supported by experts, too, regardless of which conclusion I think is more convincing.

  • Greg Fish

    You still haven’t said exactly how a popular referendum is groveling, and who it’s groveling to?

    Again. Please. Read. The. Post. There are only so many ways I can say the same thing and not just point back to what I’ve already said.

    How is excusing students an Establishment violation?

    Huh? What? I wasn’t saying that the amendment violates the Establishment Clause, I was saying that the First Amendment already makes what was supposed to be the primary statement being made redundant. Forcing teaches to excuse students who don’t want to study real science is an act of intellectual cowardice, but in no way am I saying it’s illegal.

    It’s not that I trust parents per se, but I don’t trust public bureaucracies or politicians.

    But again you’re contradicting yourself. You want the parents to choose the bias, but you want some unspecified body or committee to set “minimum standards” for facts. Who’s going to do that? The parents you don’t truest enough to set these standards or the bureaucrats you don’t trust to set the curriculum, fearing that they’ll use it for propagandizing? Your plan is more like a jumble of vague feelings peppered with the requisite buzzwords than a plan.

    Of course parents should have more to say about their children than govt officials do.

    I would agree but in this case, the parents aren’t picking fights with politicians, they’re picking a fight with scientists using the politicians’ need to stay elected as a bludgeon.

    My point isn’t that either of those positions is right or wrong, but that the anti-ND POV, in my experience, is NOT taught.

    In your experience. In mine it was. How now brown cow? Anyway, I get your point about the New Deal but what does it have to do with things like evolution and cosmology?

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    venqax, you’re moving the goal posts (another trolling tactic, btw) here. You claimed there was liberal bias in text books. I asked you to provide citations to back that claim up… specifically claims from the textbooks that matched the ridiculous examples you pointed to. Your response was to tell me to go find those citations for you. That’s what triggered my comment about trolling. It’s a classic move. Claim the proof is out there, hidden in a huge pile of data then challenge your detractors to go find it. If you’re making a claim about something, bring your own evidence or don’t make such specific claims in the first place.

    So we were left with you admitting that textbooks don’t really have those things in them, that it’s the teachers going off script, so to speak, and teaching stuff that isn’t on the curriculum. If you can’t provide evidence that these twisted versions of history and social science are being taught in schools, then we must conclude that if what you claim is happening at all, it’s because teachers aren’t sticking to the curriculum their states are providing. If that’s the case, then why push for further deregulation of the school system? Why not push for stricter regulation that would force more teachers to teach what is approved?

    Your argument makes not sense.

    Pointing a slew of other issues, including the culture war, and suggesting I’m simply unaware of what you’re talking about is a diversion tactic meant to shift attention away from the fact that you contradicted yourself in this thread and essentially sunk your own argument.

  • venqax

    Then maybe I should have said, “I don’t see what any of this has to do with the Establishment Clause at all (which you brought up) or freedom of speech (which you brought up, too). And I still don’t see how a popular referendum—the people telling their representatives “this is what we want”—equates with groveling. When your boss tells you to do something, are you groveling to him by doing it, assuming you disagree? The people are, after all, the owners, the Board, the sovereign, when it comes to public policy. At least in theory. The Establishment Clause does nothing to protect students from assaults on their religious beliefs— rightly or wrongly. Whether or not they should be so protected is the issue with a referendum like this one, and when asked the people said, “Yes, they should be.” If you disagree, then you were on the losing side of that policy debate. That sucks, but we all live with those outcomes.

    i>But again you’re contradicting yourself. You want the parents to choose the bias, but you want some unspecified body or committee to set “minimum standards” for facts. Who’s going to do that? Your plan is more like a jumble of vague feelings peppered with the requisite buzzwords than a plan.
    I think I was pretty clear about that. I don’t want any body completely dominating and monopolizing public education. I want choice of bias (for lack of any better term) that could be provided via a competitive marketplace; because I don’t think bias can be eliminated, especially in areas like social studies and humanities. Yes, some entity would have to set those minimum standards regarding what has to be covered and insisting that outright falsehoods can’t be part of a curriculum. That is what elected school boards should do and, to a limited extent, may do now. What is contradictory about that?

    … they’re picking a fight with scientists using the politicians’ need to stay elected as a bludgeon.

    How are they picking fights with scientists? They are not trying to tell scientists anything, and they are not trying to alter the science curriculum. Just to be excused from it. Kind of like the Amish and electricity. The Amish aren’t “picking fights” with the power company. And this was a referendum, yes? Not an electoral issue for politicians.I do agree that not teaching evolution, specifically, is intellectually unfounded and bad policy.

    …the anti-ND POV, in my experience, is NOT taught.— In your experience. In mine it was .

    Then you had a more balanced education about it. I, and my fellow students, didn’t. We should have gotten the same info you did. Maybe you don’t care, but I and the brown cow do. If someone doesn’t learn about evolution, why would you care—so long as you did?

    Anyway, I get your point about the New Deal but what does it have to do with things like evolution and cosmology?

    Nothing. It has to do with bias and relative quality in public education. That was my point to begin with. Concern over the quality of education when it comes to religious interference is fine. What about concern over other ideological interjections? Or is religion the only threat to be cared about? I, for example, can’t get too worked up about kids skipping evolution lessons, given the other—IMO– toxic elements of public eduation they are exposed to that also have an effect on the world.

  • venqax

    Damian, I’m afraid I don’t know how to address your issues. If you really don’t know or have never heard about the controversy surrounding ideological bias in public education—accusations that come from both the Right and the Left—then I don’t know what’s to be done with you. And that IS the point. The battle is being fought, as we speak. Whether it’s made it to a theater near you or not. The specific examples I used are irrelevant to my point, so if they are your problem, disregard them. The issue of the biases is out there. And it’s far more extensive than creationism. That’s the point. If you looked at the common amazon page for the Vitz or Schweikart books, it would automatically display many other books on the subject for you. Is that too much research? I didn’t say what was or was not in textbooks, BTW, but what has been taught in public schools. You make the equation between textbooks and learning. I don’t recall a textbook on dodgeball, but I’m sure that school is where we learned it. The examples I gave, I’ll say again, come from my personal experience over the last 20+ years.

    If you DO want to pursue the subject because you have a genuine curiosity, maybe look at the curriculum for the Chicago public schools’ Afrocentrism program, the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act’s requirement for the State Board of Education to revise state curriculum regarding sexuality issues, the Iriqouis [sic] and the Origins of American Democracy by Donald Grinde—which was presented in school programs I personally experienced (sorry, that’s just anecdotal), the court battle over ethnic studies in Arizona ( http://news.yahoo.com/ariz-schools-ethnic-studies-program-ruled-illegal-021635252.html). Pretty much the entire curriculum of the California State Board of Education in the area of history/social studies it calls “National Identity” is a great example of leftist propaganda passing as education. The Calif curriculum has been criticized for conservative bias too, BTW, in its treatment of the OT as history. A valid criticism, too, IMO.

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    venqax, your continued attempts to paint me as ignorant about the subject matter are transparent. I’m not going to bite on your attempt to shift the focus away from the fact that you shot your own argument in the foot.

  • venqax

    Just out of curiosity, what do you think my argument was? I’m not the one who painted you as ignorant…

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    Your argument has been all over the place. What’s funny is that you keep beating up on a strawman in lieu of responding to the criticism I’ve had of the specific claims you made above and you keep trying twist away from what I’m actually talking about by acting astounded that I supposedly don’t know or haven’t heard of things like the ongoing culture war, or biases in schools and politics.

    I took exception to the specific claims you made about what’s being taught in schools early in the thread. I asked you to provide citations. You balked and challenged me to find the citations myself. I pushed you to provide your own citations and you backed off of those specific claims admitting that they aren’t actually in text books and it was those pesky teachers going off curriculum to push the leftist agenda. I asked how that jived with your desire to deregulate and then privatize the public school system since the more logical option was to crack down on teachers straying from curricula rather than to deconstruct the entire system and try something new.

    That’s when you started painting me as being ignorant about the ongoing culture war and the issue of biases in schools. I’ve never denied the existence of either. I specifically did not address them in this thread because I was focused on the ridiculous and baseless claims you were making to push your own agenda here. That’s all I ever focused on. Now you’re claiming that those claims are irrelevant to your claims. And if you’re not the one painting me as ignorant, I’d like to know who is, since no one else in this thread has addressed me.

    Plus, this quote doesn’t really do much to support your claim that you’re not trying to paint me as ignorant: “Damian, I’m afraid I don’t know how to address your issues. If you really don’t know or have never heard about the controversy surrounding ideological bias in public education—accusations that come from both the Right and the Left—then I don’t know what’s to be done with you.”

    Once again you’ve shot your own argument in the foot.

  • venqax

    No, Damian, my argument has been exactly the same all along. It is and has been this:

    School curricula are biased and there is no way to entirely prevent that. So, no one set of biases should have a monopoly on publically funded education. Schools should get to compete for that money that comes from everyone via some kind of voucher system. Sure, there would have to be some minimum standards applied. Those should come from the public, so much as is possible—e.g. elected school boards– not from unaccountable bureaucrats or teachers’ unions.

    The strawman is your preoccupation with the examples of bias I gave. As I said, forget them. They were just examples. And I did give you some references for them. But just pretend those specific examples are nowhere out there. It doesn’t affect the point one way or the other.

    All that matters is that the fight over curriculum bias is going on, so, ipso facto, there is a problem. You can take sides and say one side’s biases are correct and the other’s are not (e.g. evolution vs creationism) but usually the one-sidedness is not that clear cut. Or, better, you can say the PUBLIC schools shouldn’t take a values-based stance and should allow different legit POVs to be taught. E.g. America’s strength may be because of its diversity OR it might be because it is based on Eurocentric fundamentals that even non-Europeans were pressured into adopting. So multiculturalism might well be a bad thing that is a drag on our progress—a perfectly valid position that I don’t know of ANY public schools presenting. THAT should be taught, too. That is an example of a controversial claim in opposition to multiculturalism that is no more or less demonstrably true than the melting pot/tossed salad propaganda taught as fact in most schools now. I don’t have any cites for it handy. Tho the multicult crap is in those Calif State Board of Ed specifications.

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    You may have just been sloppy in your paragraph, but did you just suggest both evolution and creationism should be taught in schools?

  • venqax

    No, the opposite, “one side’s biases are correct and the other’s are not (e.g. evolution vs creationism) but usually the one-sidedness is not that clear cut”. Meaning that in that case the “correct” side is clearly so. So no, creationism should not be taught. At least not in a school that isn’t specifically religious in nature. The point being that it is NOT the usual case, however, in humanities/social studies types of classes that contraversial issues are that clear cut, right/wrong, as opposed to having an interpretive bias. It’s simply the nature of the beast. Thanks for asking instead of assuming I meant something I didn’t. Sorry if it wasn’t clear.

  • DARWYN V. NORRIS

    @venqax , in reference to your statement: ‘Creationism can’t be taught, legally’.

    In Tennessee, though not legally “taught” but “discussed.” In the same manner politics is “discussed” on Hannity or Rush.

    The statement. “However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.” —– is very telling how these discussions will be presented.

    From Politico:

    Tennessee will now allow the discussion of creationism theory in its classrooms.

    The controversial legislation — known as the “Monkey Bill” by those who said it attacked teaching evolution — became law on Tuesday without Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature, Reuters reported. The Republican governor said he allowed the legislation encouraging classroom debate about evolution to become law despite his misgivings because he thinks it will not significantly affect the state’s science curriculum.

    “I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers,” Haslam said in a statement. “However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.”

    “The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin, but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature,” he added.

    Critics likened the bill to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Dayton, Tenn., in which teacher John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution and violating state law. The state Supreme Court later overturned the verdict, and in 1967 the state’s anti-evolution law was repealed.

    Short URL:
    http://politi.co/IxUTAb

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75014.html#ixzz25u8HeRy5

  • venqax

    There are other examples like that too. School prayers are still routine much of Mississippi and Texas, too. Court cases pop up every now and then and it turns out they’ve been doing it all along. With things like this, if no one complains or files a suit, it just goes ahead. “Discussing” evolution vs creationism, though, is demonstrobly different from teaching creation or against evolution. That is why it is a legal loophole. Of course how they actually do it in practice remains to be seen. Courts can still strike something that is no uncontitutional on its face, but they think is in practice. All the laws that allow or encourage discussion of the Bible as literature or history can be used as back doors to teach religion, too. Still, teaching creation per se, in public schools, is not legal. When law is trying to fight cultural norms, law doesn’t do that well. E.g. Prohibition.

  • http://www.selenehollow.com DamianD

    I saw some “discussing” creationism vs evolution in college. The professors there decided to nip the whole thing in the bud sometimes in classes where it was necessary to cover evolution by going through the claims Creationism makes, then demonstrating how none of them are the least big scientific, never mind credible scientific theories.

    Of course, in most instances down south, the “discussion” is likely to be less skewed toward the science side and some of the “discussion” could probably be argued to be instruction. And while I’m sure someone reading is probably ready to jump into the discussion to say that if professors are using “discussion” to blow Creationism out of the water in science classrooms, it’s only fair that those leaning in the other direction get to do so to push their worldview, the fact remains that doing so to push Creationism can very well be illegal.

  • venqa

    Public schools and colleges are completely different things. The legal issues involve what can be taught in K-12 public schools to children. Almost anything can be taught at a college. That’s why Marxism and feminism still exist. LOL. The only external things that govern college curricula are the college’s academic rules and in very narrow cases, state law at state universities. Those usually deal with what courses have to to be offered, rather than content. What college required dealing with creationism in its science classes? It would be very disappointing, to say the least, to go to a college class in anthropology, and have a discussion on the location of the Garden take over. But it wouldn’t be illegal anywhere I know of. Bible colleges, OTOH, that’s what you’d expect, if they had anthropology at all. Regional accreditation reflects that difference.

    It is true, IMO, that even requiring the “discussion” in public schools goes too far. Either have real science ed, unimmpeded by religious OR political agendas and excuse those who object, or don’t teach science at all. I think the latter is unsupportable.