Ape Shall Not Harm Ape


Superhero "The Tick" hips us to this David Boaz article in honor of the 80th anniversary of the Scopes "Monkey Trial." Boaz asked how we got from school monkeys to Heather Has Two Mommies:

How does this battle relate to school choice? It illustrates the problem with a one-size-fits-all monopoly school system. Lots of Tennesseans wanted their children taught the Biblical story of creation. But there were others, probably a minority, who wanted their children to learn the scientific consensus in biology class. Because the school system was a state monopoly, they couldn't both get what they wanted…

Several years ago, New York City saw a battle royal over the values to be taught to the city's 1 million schoolchildren. The ruling establishment tried to impose the multicultural, pro-gay "Children of the Rainbow" curriculum on all schools. A backlash erupted, leading to the removal of the city's school superintendent. Emboldened by popular opposition to the Rainbow Curriculum, the Catholic Church teamed up with Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition to try to take over the city's 32 community school boards.

The cultural elite fought back, pulling together a coalition including the United Federation of Teachers, key supporters of liberal Mayor David Dinkins, People for the American Way, and gay activists. The two groups fought bitterly for the right to impose their own moral and cultural values on New York's million schoolchildren. In the end, it was a draw, and schoolchildren continued to be pawns in a political struggle.

Back when we all still believed in the New Economy and the second coming of 2Pac, Michael Lynch took a look at the way D.C. parents were opting out of the school monopoly.

NEXT: Fitzcarraldo

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  1. I have been a teacher for eight years, and I have always been amazed by the huge contradiction that the teacher unions hold as their main tenet. They say that public teachers and public schools are great and that they deserve waaaaaay more money (like NEA President Reg Weaver declaring that starting teachers should earn $40,000). However, then they declare that a voucher system would drive public schools under. Well, I am fond of asking fellow teachers, how in the world is that rationalization possible? Wouldn't logic dictate that if public teachers/schools were of high quality that they would be competitive and profitable under a choice based voucher system? My feeling is that the majority of educators mean well, but they are under educated as far as basic economics goes, and that this affects their world view.

  2. They are just looking for their destiny. 🙂

  3. I wonder, if we followed the Establishment clause as it was written, there could be no Federal funding of schools, since all schools propagate religious beliefs in one way or another.

    Mike Lynch is one of my favourite Reason alums.

  4. In Syracuse it's spelled DestiNY.

  5. "all schools propagate religious beliefs in one way or another."

    No they don't.

  6. It's not hard to peddle a contradiction when all the union is fighting for is more power. Truth is irrelevant. And we all know how critical people are when the mantra of the children is invoked.

  7. I was looking specifically for The Tick reference...is there a joke I'm missing? Sorry, guess I'm dense this morning. I really wanted a Tick reference!

  8. I think the story was forwarded by someone who posts as "the Tick".


  9. I wonder if the Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight (a Tick villian) is associated with Al Qaeda.

  10. "all schools propagate religious beliefs in one way or another."

    Not to get all hyperbolic, but public schools certainly preach fealty to the state, with many of the same overtones.

  11. mediageek: That's actually what I meant, in part. The state is a modern god. But more closely to the Framer's age, if one chooses to teach something that contradicts a religious teaching, like evolution, that teaching regards the religious establishment.

  12. saw-whet,

    And its what Dr. Zeus says about Taylor Planet of the Apes as the latter rides off along the beach and from the archaeological dig. Of course Taylor eventually finds the Statue of Liberty and starts screaming at it:


  13. "All my life I've known of your coming -- school vouchers, I mean -- and I've dreaded it. Like Death itself.

    "Public education was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it ... ages ago."

    -- Dr. Zaius

    (I have many Planet of the Apes quotes stored in my head.)

  14. No reference to the Scopes Monkey Trials is complete without bringing up the man who coined the phrase.

    H.L. Mencken's account of the trial.

    In brief this is a strictly Christian community, and such is its notion of fairness, justice and due process of law. Try to picture a town made up wholly of Dr. Crabbes and Dr. Kellys, and you will have a reasonably accurate image of it. Its people are simply unable to imagine a man who rejects the literal authority of the Bible. The most they can conjure up, straining until they are red in the face, is a man who is in error about the meaning of this or that text. Thus one accused of heresy among them is like one accused of boiling his grandmother to make soap in Maryland....

  15. I really wanted a Tick reference!
    Well there was that one episode where The Tick was teaching a class to those wannabe superheroes including Sarcastro and Babyboomerangutan.
    Regarding education he said, "But what have we really learned? Well, for one thing, not everyone can know everything. Some people don't know anything. I myself don't know much. But I do know this, that uh, well, the thing I just said."

  16. Stevo Darkly,

    I've always loved the original Planet of the Apes.

  17. Is Lynch writing anywhere these days? He would be a kick arse blogger.

  18. I'm sure his blog entries would start off semi-coherently, then about a quarter of the way through completely change topic and tense. The fonts would randomly grow or loose serifs, and change color, and the words would be typed backwards.

    It would be nearly incomprehensible, yet somehow mesmerizing. People would say "I have no idea what that blog entry was about, but it just seemed to make sense on a deeper level."

  19. I've always loved the original Planet of the Apes.

    It was a classic. The sequels were progressively less worthy. The recent remake -- or "re-imagining" was visually cool but otherwise much inferior. And not really more visually cool than the original, come to think of it.

    Ape shall not remake Ape.

    (Although I am looking forward to the King Kong remake.)

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