School Choice

The Creationism in Schools Distraction

Nothing turns voters against vouchers more than the idea of funding a religious education with public money.



Eric Meikle, project director at the National Center for Science Education, recently told Politico that he doesn't believe "the function of public education is to prepare students for the turn of the 19th century."

Good point. We should stop teaching kids about the wonders of windmills and choo-choo trains and stop demeaning the technological accomplishments of the 20th century. Because guess what? It already sounds a lot like the 19th century in classrooms.

Of course, Meikle wasn't referring to the environmental Cassandras of our public school districts; he was pondering the boogeyman of creationism. And like most efforts to warn us about the menace of religious extremism in schools, all these investigations into "creationism" offer the media a convenient way to express secular unease about the supposed outsize power of zealots while also clouding the purpose of school choice.

Yes, 14 states spend "nearly $1 billion" of taxpayer tuition on "hundreds of religious schools" that teach kids the earth is less than 10,000 years old. This would be more troubling if we didn't spend hundreds of billions every year not teaching millions of kids how to read. Voucher programs offer a wide variety of choices for parents, unlike the closed, failing schools that so many kids are trapped in.

As of now, public schools spend about $638 billion on about 55 million students, but only 250,000 students—almost all of them poor—are free to use vouchers and tax-credit scholarships. Of those kids, the vast majority do not attend schools with curriculua that feature intelligent design. Yet judging from all the "special investigations" of creationism in schools, you may be under the impression it is the most pressing problem faced by educators.

I suspect that untold numbers of parents would sacrifice their children to the Gods of Creationism if it meant they could attend safe and high-achieving schools. A lot of these schools score well. But that's not the choice, either. Stephanie Simon's piece offers a perfunctory acknowledgment that not all private schools are churning out fundamentalists, but then she spends about two-thirds of her time broadly discussing advocacy of school choice (with the obligatory "Koch-funded" group playing a part) and conflating all that can be conflated about the issue.

School choice activism (Politico calls it a "big-money push," which, in the context of union money, is laughable) focuses primarily on an escape route for underprivileged kids and the need to create more competitive public schools, not religious education.

Don't get me wrong; there is a philosophical component. Though I tend to believe that this debate is more often fought in newspapers and on blogs than in real life, according to a Gallup poll and other polls, about half of America believes that humankind was conceived in its present form. If those parents happen not to be rich, should government force them to send their kids to schools that do not comport with their religious convictions? Or, for that matter, should I be forced to send my kids to a school that undermines my beliefs about evolution? Well, vouchers can save both of us. As Michael McShane points out over at National Review, if you're a poor parent in Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, or Kansas, school choice may be your only way to escape from systems that already teach creationism.

Nothing turns voters against vouchers more than the idea of funding a religious education with public money. Many voters are likely unaware that the U.S. Supreme Court says state funds can be used to supplement a religious education if parents are also offered a variety of other choices. The left will ostensibly oppose "public money going to parochial schools," because it best suits their political position, but the often unspoken crisis of vouchers and choice is that government offers parents any choice. That's what this creationist scare in the media is all about.

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  1. Harsanyi flunks knowing the difference between Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design.

    1. Does it really matter? They’re both so far from being right that they’re not even wrong.

      1. One’s a scientific theory with no basis, one a metaphysical theory with arguable basis, so yeah, it matters.

        1. Which do you think is which? And why?

        2. Then the question is, why are we trying to intermingle a metaphysical, untestable explanation for the universe with a physical, well-established concept to explain natural phenomena?

          1. I’d also add that neither is a scientific theory and therefore has no place in a science curriculum.

            1. Intelligent Design and Creationism believers are saying that it is impossible for all-powerful God to have used Evolution to reach His desired ends, whatever they may be. That seems pretty presumptuous to me, but maybe they know Him better than I do.

        3. Neither are scientific theories. Both are pretty well falsified.

    2. That’s like failing to annotate the difference between phrenology and cranioscopy: who gives a shit.

  2. What a ridiculous article, David. Vapid.

    So go ahead, show me the text book that says windmills and “choo choo trains” are where we should be headed back to. Now that’s a Cassandra, and it comes from you.

    But creationism in text books is a boogeyman? No its not, its an active battle.…..ement.html

    “Some scientists even question the validity of the conclusions concerning the age of the Earth.” That’s in a charter school workbook, which we pay for. So not so much of a boogeyman, is it? But go ahead show me your windmill quote.

    1. The people attending the school are also paying for the school, or don’t they get a voice in how their money is spent if it’s on something you don’t like.

      1. The issue is that, with a taxpayer funded voucher system, they wouldn’t just be spending their money. It isn’t an unreasonable objection.

        1. They are spending other people’s money either way. Most people aren’t paying the $15k it costs to “educate” children.

          Really, the issue is how retarded the education system is in the first place and how objectionable it is for some kids to learn about an old man with a beard crafting the earth out of playdoh while taking a bath. But trapping them in failing schools is perfectly fine, as long as they teach the right things.

          1. I don’t know the detailed budget of all religious schools, but the issue isn’t spending other people’s money, it is spending taxpayer money. That brings separation of church and state issues into the mix.

            You could make that argument for lots of welfare programs though. Social Security is the easiest example. My grandparents get Social Security and they donate money to their Church. Does that raise First Amendment issues? I don’t know if the courts ever ruled on it. Most people probably don’t think so, because they money isn’t specifically earmarked for being given to charity. Vouchers are specifically earmarked for education.

            Really, the difference is one of bookkeeping. I don’t see rational argument for being OK with Social Security checks being donated to churches, but not school vouchers. But how many people approach these issues rationally? One side will see it as the coming of a theocratic state, the other will see it as part of the secular war on religion.

            1. “Separation of Church and State” is a myth as pernicious as Creationism. Possibly worse. It was conjured out of thin air and a letter from Jefferson. There is no reference to it in the Bill of Rights.

              That said, if tax money is used to fund schools impartially, then the objection to its use by Christian schools amounts to the same thing as the self-righteous swine of the 19th century who used the State to take Catholic children way from their families so they would be raised “right” (protestant).

              On the level that most people understand it, Science is just as much of a superstition as any church. At the level that most schools teach it, science might as well be alchemy.

              I have scant patience with people who would rather hold children illiterate and innumerate than see then exposed to “wrong” ideas. Yes, if we spread the voucher idea some children will doubtless be taught Creationism. Some will doubtless be taught Afrocentrism, for which there is even less evidence. But if the majority of them emerge able to read, write, and do basic math we will all come out ahead.

              Come up with a better solution or get the hell out of the way.

              1. “Separation of Church and State” is a myth as pernicious as Creationism. Possibly worse. It was conjured out of thin air and a letter from Jefferson. There is no reference to it in the Bill of Rights.

                To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s written explicitly in the constitution or not. If you’re going to have a coercive state pushing me around it better fucking not force me to follow or fund any religion. Separation of Church and State is a real concept that the government(s) of the US had better stick with for the good of everyone.

                1. And how is giving a benefit to parents who agree with you and denying it to parents who disagree with you different from forcing you to fund a religion? Your belief system, which holds Creationism in contempt, is a faith in the minds of all but a very few of the people who hold it.

                  If you don’t want to fund teaching anything but your point of view, then you must militate against public funding of any sort of education or you are advocating that YOUR views be crammed down the throats of people who disagree with you.

                  Which will it be? Education or moral rectitude?

                  1. And how is giving a benefit to parents who agree with you and denying it to parents who disagree with you different from forcing you to fund a religion?

                    Don’t force me to fund any of your kid’s shit. It’s your kid, you pay for it. But if you absolutely insist on forcing me to pay for your kid’s shit, then at least let me vehemently protest when you take my money and fund religious instruction.

                    I don’t want MY views crammed down anyone’s throat. Your kids can go to whatever school you wish to send them to and learn anything they like. Oh, but you want me to pay for it? Here are my restrictions.

                    1. Ah, so unless they teach EXACTLY what you happen to believe, you are against public funding of education.

                      It’s a position. Not one I have much respect for, though. If you were against all public funding whether you agreed with what was taught or not, that would be a principle. As it is, you’re just one more religious bigot.

                  2. Your belief system, which holds Creationism in contempt, is a faith in the minds of all but a very few of the people who hold it.

                    Not everyone who is against teaching Creationism as science holds Creationism “in contempt”. It’s not science, and shouldn’t be taught in a science classroom, but I don’t really care how someone personally reconciles the Bible and the science on evolution and cosmology.

                    Also, to say people who accept evolution without understanding it in detail are just taking it on faith really twists the meaning of faith. I guess you could say they are putting “faith” in scientists, but I think “trust” is a much better descriptor, in that it isn’t absolute.

                    1. If we accept that one superstitious set of beliefs has enough validity to be taught in schools, then I guess you won’t mind if we teach your kids about Thor and Ragnorok while we’re at it.

                      In fact, superstitions are so cheap and plentiful that we can just drop math and science altogether and replace it with nothing but courses that teach of magical explanations for natural phenomena. All kids really need to know is useless mythology presented as reason anyways right? Why does 2x+1=5 you ask? Because Jesus or something.

                2. If you’re going to have a coercive state pushing me around it better fucking not force me to follow or fund any religion

                  This is a line in the sand that is ultimately too blurry to be meaningful at all. Everybody does something with their money that somebody else will find unacceptable.

                  The coercion is the problem, and employing more nuanced forms of coercion is not the solution.

                  1. The coercion is the problem, and employing more nuanced forms of coercion is not the solution.

                    Actually it is, for the time being. Coercion itself isn’t going away in our lifetimes. The only thing that might alleviate some pain from it is that groups of people seem to respond when they are coerced into doing things they dislike instead of things they like.

                    1. The question of actual harm is important here. Someone using your money to learn the “I Dream of Jeannie” version of biology does you no more harm than someone using your money to learn nothing at all.

                    2. If they want a career in any scientific field later in life, it will harm them greatly. Also, it promotes one religion over others.

              2. CSPS

                Wins the thread. Period.

                And then they all will be able to think instead of being thought for, as it is now.

            2. Taxpayer money is other people money.

              The issue isn’t about teaching creationism, or vouchers or separation of church & state. It’s really about our education system. The left is constantly harping on public education, too bad if that entails something they don’t like, even it is as dumb as a 6,000 year old earth and Jesus riding dinosaurs. At one point, that teaching was common and people seemed to turn out fine. Try convincing the to let people choose their own schools so they don’t have to worry about teaching creationism.

              Also, I believe the court has ruled vouchers for religious schools wasn’t a problem, but haven’t looked at that for a while.

          2. But trapping them in failing schools is perfectly fine, as long as they teach the right things.

            I consider a school teaching creationism to be a failure.

            1. My school “failed” me.

              Then Summa Cum Laude in Economics…

              That’s what “failure” looks like to you.

              1. The school failed to teach proper biology. Yeah, that’s a failure. YOU may not have failed in life, but the school failed when it taught creationism.

                1. And yet, I know SO VERY MUCH MORE than those who mindlessly learn evolution. I had to learn the precepts of it better than all of the adherents, just to beat them in arguments.

                  I loved my science and pseudo-science class, as I was the only one who even attacked evolution or had points to bring up in favor of a Creator. I also read Kuhn and Popper, so there’s that.

                  But no, my schooling didn’t fail me. It prepared me BETTER for the subject, as those who believe in Creation usually have to defend their beliefs better than evolutionists. That and learning biology has almost nothing to do with evolution (if the organism evolve, it is too little or too slow to matting in observation anyhow).

                  1. No, you don’t “know so very much more”; you’re merely ignorant. Evolution has been directly observed experimentally numerous times, and it is the only reasonable explanation for a huge number of observations in biology. On the other hand, there is not a single observation that would make creationism a reasonable explanation. Without understanding evolution, you really also can’t understand economics.There are some basic, objective truths in this world that are so well established that they are beyond a reasonable doubt, and the origination of species through evolution is one of them.

                    I respect your right to be ignorant and stupid and to raise your kids that way. I think you should even be able to get publicly funded school vouchers for that purpose if you like. Nevertheless, your beliefs are still objectively ignorant and stupid.

                    1. Actually, I do. And disagreeing with you doesn’t mean I’m “ignorant”, just that I disagree. I know the facts, the theories, the arguments. What I’ve yet to see is anything other than natural variation or loss of information (which cannot be the “evolution” that can explain the origin of species).

                      I cannot “prove” a God that refuses to allow himself to be “proven” in the method you seem to require. I won’t fight God on this, and so it is up to faith. You don’t like this because God refuses to play by your rules. Well too bad. He can do that; he is God. You are right that I can’t give you a “single observation” but I can give you plenty of philosophical reasons why he is necessary (or more simple an explanation, al la Occam’s Razor).

                      In fact, Adam Smith wasn’t an evolutionist and he invented what we call economics. So there goes that assertion. I can spout off all the points of the Austrian school just fine and still tell you that God Created the Universe! I’m sorry my mere existence violates your worldview. Perhaps you should adjust it.

                      You are free to think my beliefs are stupid, and I take no money from you (home schooled, the most effective method). Some of your beliefs are incorrect but don’t cause me harm so have at it!

                    2. @ace_m82 You’re ignorant because you say “what I’ve yet to see is anything other than natural variation or loss of information”. So you objectively don’t know the numerous examples of evolution that biologists have documented; that’s what “ignorance” literally means: you don’t know facts.

                      As for “God”, even if we stipulate your premise that on philosophical grounds, there needs to be a creator and evolution didn’t happen, nothing ties such a creator to Christian beliefs. I’m agnostic on the existence of a creator. I’m not agnostic on the existence of the Christian God: the Christian God and all the b.s. associated with him (Jesus, etc.) is a fraud, as are the attempts of Christian churches to mislead people that a belief in a creator means a belief in God or that Christian churches have any authority or knowledge to speak for him.

                      Finally, even if the Christian God were a reality, it is clear from the Bible itself that He is evil and immoral. I don’t want to live in the kind of dark universe Christians believe they inhabit, and I would consider it the moral duty of any human being who believe in such a deity to oppose it. But, fortunately, regardless of what philosophical position one takes on the necessity for a creator, the Bible and Christianity are both frauds and untrue.

                    3. I’m curious, Mark 22. How do you know God, or anything / anyone else, is evil? How do you determine what is immoral? How do you arrive at a definition of immorality? How do you recognize good from bad? Right from wrong? Your reference to God as evil and immoral reveal that you have an idea that a right and a wrong exist: evil is wrong, immorality is wrong, according to negative context in which you use them. Do biologists, or any other type of scientist, have evidence that the human moral compass / conscience developed with your ancestors that supposedly spontaneously arose out of the primordial ooze out of which all life supposedly came to exist? If not, from where do humans derive their idea of right and wrong? I mean, even criminals have an idea of right and wrong – they often excuse their illicit behavior by justifying it as an act to correct a “wrong” done to them by someone else. I suppose the explanation couldn’t have anything to do with the possibility that humans are created beings. I guess that somewhere, some theorist of evolution has the answer, and that the answer also explains why humans alone, out of all living creatures, have the ability to choose their actions according to their understanding of right and wrong (even if that action means he will destroy his own life, such as when one human runs into a burning building to save another human). Just wondering how you use the theory of evolution to explain these things.

                    4. “So you objectively don’t know the numerous examples of evolution that biologists have documented…”

                      Did it add info or remove it? An important question if “evolution” (as you define it) is the origin of species.

                      “nothing ties such a creator to Christian beliefs”

                      Not necessarily, no. So what?

                      “the Christian God and all the b.s. associated with him (Jesus, etc.) is a fraud”


                      “as are the attempts of Christian churches to mislead people that a belief in a creator means a belief in God or that Christian churches have any authority or knowledge to speak for him”

                      If God wants to work through certain people, I won’t argue with him. The ant doesn’t understand why a human does certain things and we are much more different to God than an ant is to a human.

                      “it is clear from the Bible itself that He is evil and immoral”

                      By your own definition of the words, I’m sure you’re right. However, by the objective measure (he sent his beloved to die to save us from our rebellion), then no, he isn’t.

                      God made you free to oppose him if you so choose. Just don’t think that is going to end well. Hey, we all get to learn how right (wrong) we are when we die!

                    5. You fail to differentiate between evolution itself and the notion of macro-evolution, the idea that all life on earth evolved from non-living precursors. Many people accept the truth of micro-evolution, the idea that living things change over time due to natural selection, while rejecting macro-evolution. Or are you claiming that someone has grown an intelligent species out of muck in a lab somewhere?

                    6. There is nothing to “differentiate”. We have observations spanning a billion years that document evolution, with physics, morphology, genetics, and molecular biology all being in agreement. In addition, we can observe evolution experimentally.

                      Incidentally, macro-evolution does not mean that “all life on earth evolved from non-living precursors”; it may well have evolved elsewhere.

                      Finally, it’s hard to see what reason Christians would have to reject evolution. Mainstream churches, including the Catholic church, accept evolution as fact, and simply believe that their omnipotent deity would have had no problem to create a universe in which life and humans evolved through a billion years or more through physical law.

                2. “The school failed to teach proper biology. Yeah, that’s a failure. YOU may not have failed in life, but the school failed when it taught creationism.”

                  Creationism is not opposed to the idea of evolution in and of itself, but to the idea that evolution is the sole mechanism which brought all life into existence on earth.

                  None of us truly knows where life came from. What difference does it make to anyone not working in bioscience if they believe the world was created six billion years ago, six thousand years ago, or six seconds ago? How is holding one belief about that or another any more going to affect one’s future than knowing who wrote “War and Peace”?

                  1. Bill,

                    I do find their adverse reaction to my opinion quite fascinating. How does it harm them (unless I’m right)?

                3. to me it seems like a trade off between creationism and the progy secular religions like environmentalism or race/class/gender bullshit. Seems like a toss up.

            2. BTW, I’m sorry your Catholic school treated you so poorly. In my estimation (and statistics), they turn more people away from their religion than towards it

              1. Hell, I don’t remember most of it. I don’t care, it wasn’t much worse than how the teachers in the public schools treated me.

                If you think I’m an atheist because I’m bitter about how religious people treated me, think again. I’m an atheist because religion is bullshit.

                1. Whatever the reason, I’m sorry for how they treated you. No-one should treat another like that.

              2. I thought Roman Catholicism was at peace with the theory of evolution.

                1. it is

            3. I consider a school that teaches its pupils to read and write to be a qualified success. Literacy allows people to teach themselves.

              The public schools fail to teach literacy. What else they teach, or attempt to teach, is beside the point.

            4. I consider not teaching kids read, write, do a little math and to worship the state to be a failure. Creationism is the least important problem in education.

              1. this

      2. For you, AND David…14 states that use taxpayer money in public schools to teach creationism…..ic-schools

        But no, its just a boogeyman.

        1. All of the schools in the linked article are private schools who merely participate in participate in state scholarship programs or voucher programs for disabled/poor students. I’m not seeing the problem here.

          1. They are funded with taxpayer money. And they aren’t all private schools…note that in Arkansas some are public.

            From Time magazine:

            “Even schools that take pains to give a nod to scientists do it in a qualified way that undoes their ostensible point?as when the website of a Philadelphia private school applauds “the men and women of science,” but cautions that “our understanding is not complete until we filter it” through Scripture.”


        2. And there are 50 states in which schools teach bad economics, bad social science, bad medical science, bad moral reasoning, and probably lots of other objectively false ideas. Among the many erroneous ideas public and publicly funded schools teach, creationism is probably simultaneously one of the most stupid ones and one of the least harmful ones.

      3. They don’t get to dictate scientific reality.


      Let’s see. Both belief systems. Both being pushed by groups with an agenda. One gut punches the economy. The other contaminates the minds of our precious snowflakes and makes them think the flintstones were a documentary. While I like neither, I know which one I’m more worried about, and it’s the one that involves choo-choo’s and windmills–incidentally a technology much, much older than 19th century…

      1. Please tell us all what the agenda is from American Geophysical Union, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Academy of Sciences, American Physical Society, and all of them, other than to advance the cause of science?

        You do know that they ALL accept AGW, don’t you? But what, they’ve been bought off by Al Gore?

        1. I don’t know, but it always makes me curious when they feel like they have to put out an official public statement telling everyone, we as an organization totally believe that man is causing global warming and this is very bad. Why do they feel the need to issue these statements? They don’t usually do this on any other topic, so it can’t be out of scientific necessity. It does however look to me like they do it out of political necessity.

          1. They have issued statements before on other things. Here is one from National Academy of Sciences on Creationism and Science


          2. They don’t do it most on other issues because there isn’t a popular campaign against most other issues.

        2. “The cause of science”, like all human activities, isn’t purely selfless. All these institutions also want to increase their memberships, they want more respect for their profession, and they want to have more political say.

          In fact, adopting and fighting for objectively and clearly true scientific ideas like evolution itself serves as a means of establishing credibility for other, more dubious positions some of these organizations take.

          Ultimately, these organizations and their opinions don’t matter and shouldn’t matter. The only thing that matters is objective, verifiable facts.

          1. Objective, verifiable facts ARE in fact science. And these science organizations stand up for those principles, and the findings that come from them.

            Here’s the problem for you Mark, Skippy, and so many others here…you just don’t like what science is telling you about one issue, that being climate change. So you then have to try to jump through hoops to denigrate the scientists and their organizations with charges that for one time they acted unscientifically, and therefore there must be a conspiracy.

    3. show me the text book that says windmills and “choo choo trains” are where we should be headed back to

      Like this?

      At a recent hearing, Becky Berger, a petroleum and mining geologist, and current candidate for Texas railroad commissioner, objected to a draft of the high school textbook Environmental Science, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Berger said that the book unjustly blamed the oil and gas industry for pollution and hence, global warming, and that there was no mention of the downside of renewable energy sources. The publisher was forced to tweak its textbook to gain board approval: It now mentions that wind energy, typically generated in the countryside, can’t easily be transferred to urban areas.…..onism.html

  3. Honest question: are most private schools religious? If school choice were expanded, would more secular options become available? If so, that at least would solve the conundrum for people who want their kids to attend good schools but don’t want religion out of the picture.

    1. According to this site, about 80% of private schools students attend parochial schools. I’m not sure how many of those are nominally parochial though. So many mainline Protestant colleges aren’t really focused on religion, though k-12 is a bit different.

      1. I thought that might be the case. I’d be very surprised if the Catholic schools were teaching Creationism or ID, seeing as how the modern Catholic Church doesn’t take a fundamentalist approach to Genesis. I don’t know about the Protestant schools, but I suspect a significant number would also not inject religion into the science curriculum.

        1. I’m pretty sure that you’re correct. Creationism is a fundamentalist concoction developed to make religion fit a scientific worldview. Neither Catholicism nor mainline Protestantism are fundamentalist. The fact that some here think that parochial schools necessarily teach creationism just highlights their ignorance.

          1. The Vatican operates a research-grade telescope in Arizona, staffed by priests who are also astronomy PhDs. They have hosted conferences whose primary topic was trying to determine the age and size of the Universe (this is back when those things were known to far less precision). The notes in my Catholic Study Bible expressly identify Genesis as a creation myth and not historical fact. I’m sure there are individual Catholics that take a more fundamentalist view, but the Church’s position on these things is pretty clear.

            1. Fundamentalism is from the late 19th century protestanism. Catholicism was NEVER fundamentalist and they never interpreted the bible literally, even in the dark ages.

  4. And one more thing, David.

    Just today, a third grade girl tried to get South Carolina to designate the wooly mammoth as the “State Fossil.” But two Republican Senators in the state insisted on adding creationist language to the bill. In textbooks, and in the halls of government.

    But to you, its a boogeyman.…..-senators/

    1. The sad thing is, this wouldn’t be an issue if people weren’t stupid.

      I wonder who’s been educating them all this time…

    2. Wow, you are on a roll of derp. One senator, Sen. Kevin Bryant of Anderson, proposed amending the bill to include a passage from the book of Genesis in the Bible explaining the creation of life but the addition was ruled non-germane and stripped from the bill. The bill was then held up for logrolling purposes by another senator who was trying to use it to leverage passage of his own legislation. Yep… creationism is still just a silly boogeyman.

      1. And your on a roll of not even reading the article. There are two members of the government, and its not the first time one of them has introduced creationism into the political forum:

        “Just last month, Sen. Mike Fair, whose district includes Bob Jones University, blocked the state from adopting new education standards regarding evolution because he wanted to “teach the controversy” instead. And it wasn’t the first time he had tried to inject Intelligent Design into the public schools.”

        Now tell me you don’t want me to post other articles of Republican officials introducing creationism into legislation and debate. I could go on.
        By the way, I already accomplished more than the author and his “textbooks that want to go back to windmills” which was created out of whole cloth.

      2. OK, one more, and then that’s it, but its still one more additional than the author has provided for his proof. All 4 candidates for Lt. Gov. in Texas advocating for creationism being taught in PUBLIC schools.…..c-schools/

        But yeah, its just a boogeyman.

  5. I swear that Harsanyi follows the same outline for every article:

    1. Call out the culture warriors of Team Blue.
    2. Ignore the culture warriors of Team Red.
    3. Build a Team Blue strawman.
    4. Burn the Team Blue strawman

    1. Burning Man is overrated. It’s just an EDM festival for San Francisco and Las Vegas club kids.

  6. Schools that teach pseudoscience should justly be excluded from receiving voucher money.

    It’s a small problem and it ought to be relatively easy to ensure that the schools receiving it live up to minimal educational standards.

    That is really all that needs to be said.

    1. Is there a school out there that doesn’t teach AGW? Because…

      1. AGW is nowhere near on the same level of bullshit as creationism.

        Also, I don’t see where AGW is replacing teaching of basic science like evolution. Creationism is something that is taught *instead of* evolutionary biology. Not in addition to it.

        1. I’d argue it’s worse in some ways. Creationism at it’s core doesn’t pretend to be science. ID maybe gets to the same place because it pretends to have some trappings of science.

          1. AGW does not pretend to be science, it is science. At least that’s what every single major science organization in the country tells us. But here we go…tell us about the conspiracy theory on how they all have been bought off. By the way, not one of those organizations believe in creationism. But to you, they’re worse because they accept AGW as science. Tell it to your Pastor.

            1. It does not matter what is or is not science. Schools should be teaching the skills people need to discern the truth for themselves, not teaching them what “the truth” is.

              1. So no to evolution? No to gravity? Students should get there all by themselves?

                1. I would rather have someone who, with sufficient application of their own time and effort, can actually understand gravitational or evolutionary theory, than someone who can recite the party line but can’t manage their own checkbook.

                  1. I don’t disagree with you kbolino, but as a practical matter, some things are going to come down to memorization. As long as people are also learning critical thinking, I don’t see a problem with that.

                    1. Imparting literacy and numeracy in a practical sense involves some rote memorization and some cultural exposure, I won’t deny it. You can’t learn spelling in our mutt of a language without some memorization; I still find myself reciting “I before E except after C…” in my head when spelling words like receive. Not to mention teaching the sounds and letters in the first place.

                      While I take objection to the idea of making anything beyond the necessaries either mandatory or forbidden elements of the curriculum, what I am really getting at is to point out the inherent contradiction of a public school.

                      Public schools teach what the public deems prudent to be taught, not what is most valuable for a person to learn. It is up to the individual to decide what to learn and how to learn it, and a system of public schools can never accomplish that end in the aggregate.

                      Since that was precisely the criticism leveled at the system of private education that preceded public schools, the only prudent choice seems to me to be abolition of this foolish exercise known as public education. I believe a system of vouchers is a step in the right direction, although I am mindful of the application of my own maxim above (about more nuanced forms of coercion).

                    2. There’s some antecedent confusion between the third and fourth paragraphs.

                      What I am trying to say is that, prior to public schools becoming the norm, people accused the status quo of not providing a “necessary” education to the masses, and proposed public schools as the solution.

                      That solution has failed, and in fact is resulting in worse outcomes than the alternative. I see vouchers as a transitional stage between what we have and what we should have.

                      I think introducing some larger aspect of choice and involvement will bring to people the realization that education is not some abstract commodity that can be accomplished consistently with disengaged participants, and it is not best served by the decisions of committees and bureaucrats.

                      I do not, however, see this end being met if the private schools are required to do the exact same things as public schools or are otherwise hamstrung to adopt similar methods of “educating”.

            2. JA

              “AGW does not pretend to be science, it is science.”

              I know, right ?

              Because every one knows the Earth is flat. Right ?
              In 1840 the explorer James Ross was the first person to do a marine survey of what was later named for him, The Ross Ice Shelf. In 1912, Robert Falcon Scott, the second man to lead an expedition to the geographic south pole, also surveyed The Ross Ice Shelf. Both men were chosen to lead their expeditions because of their navigation and marine survey skills. Falcons entire party perished after reaching the pole ( He refused to use dogs and proved that men couldn’t drag enough food for such a long journey and back ). A later expedition brought back his logs and journals to England. A noted naturalist of the age was quoted as ” lamenting that the Great Ross Ice Shelf has retreated by over 50 miles between surveys 62 years apart. He wished he had seen it it all it’s glory. Ross discovered the ice shelf in a sailboat without a steam engine. Scott’s ship was more technologically advanced, it had auxiliary steam power. Sail was used for distance and coal powered steam for power and maneuverability in the ice. So the largest Antarctic ice shelf was already receding 1 mile a year when first discovered during the Age Of Sail. I don’t pretend to know what was causing this melting of the ice shelf. Unfortunately, man made global warmist claim to know. They blame it on something that did not exist when it was first noted that the ice shelf was retreating.

            3. “Bought off” is not the explanation. AGW-as-proved-fact is a religious belief which is an article of faith for nearly every left winger. The scientific organizations are almost entirely dominated by academics who… ta-dahhh!… skew heavily left wing.

              This is one reason I left AAAS after nearly 30 years of membership.

              1. And so here we go at Reason once again, it all must be a conspiracy. All the scientists, and even the vast majority of climatologists who tell us all that AGW is a scientific fact, well because they suggest something that I disagree with, then they must have an ideological agenda.

                I wonder what Newton’s ideological agenda was, or Fermi, or all of them. No, they were pure, its just today the majority of our scientists have abandoned scientific principles.

                So much for science at Reason…don’t complain about our high school kids lack of appreciation for what science tells us.

                1. Scientists are humans (though my wife might argue that point). They can allow ideology to mislead them, just like anyone else; that’s further encouraged by government-approved ideologies, which determine who gets funded and who doesn’t.

                  The nice thing about science is that it’s self-correcting and always provisional; if AGW turns out to be incorrect, that will eventually be accepted, irrespective of ideology. The key word is “eventually”.

                  In the meantime, be skeptical of polls (I don’t know any non-academic who was asked, which could certainly bias things a bit), be skeptical of the intersection between policy preferences and scientific hypotheses, and of any “theory” that makes predictions that are way off the mark, especially for systems that are not amenable to controlled studies and are reliant on historical data (see, for example, Prof. Roy Spencer’s illuminating curve fitting).

            4. AGW does not pretend to be science, it is science.

              Sorry, but when your “science” features the suppression of dissent, the destruction of data, and models that fail the reality test, its not really science any more.

            5. its not that AGW isn’t science. It’s that it’s catastrophic predictions about the future are not falsifiable, therefore by definition that cannot be scientific.

      2. AGW is nowhere near on the same level of bullshit as creationism.

        Also, I don’t see where AGW is replacing teaching of basic science like evolution. Creationism is something that is taught *instead of* evolutionary biology. Not in addition to it.

        1. I’d argue that it might even be a bit more bullshitty- at least with Creationism, I can imagine evidence that would falsify evolution. With AGW, there’s a special pleading for any deviation of the data from prediction- it does not seem to be falsifiable.

      3. AGW is nowhere near on the same level of bullshit as creationism.

        Also, I don’t see where AGW is replacing teaching of basic science like evolution. Creationism is something that is taught *instead of* evolutionary biology. Not in addition to it.

        1. Where does your knowledge of what’s taught in parochial school science classes come from? We NEVER learned about creationism in science class. Our biology teacher offered to discuss evolution with anyone after school if they were so interested, but told us she had more important things to teach. We were still taught your standard geology info in geography class, just prefaced that the theories represent a useful model.

          If failure to teach evolution as the absolute truth, as opposed to a model, is what screws up a kid, then I don’t think they were ever meant to work in the sciences.

          1. Ah, I now see you went to a Catholic school. I went to a Lutheran school in the Midwest, so maybe it’s a bit different.

            1. Anyone who’s frightened about the harm that creationism might cause to young minds should do business with a few Amish guys. They all attend schools run by single young Amish women who themselves have no higher education. The curriculum is reading, writing, ‘rithmetic, and the Bible. And they grow up to be better businessmen than a lot of the “enlightened” products of the public schools I’ve dealt with.

              1. I believe it. My grandma was showing me her old school material from her one-room Iowa schoolhouse days. It wasn’t as varied as what we had to learn, but it was more substantive and had to be mastered, not merely passed.

        2. How does Creationism conflict with biology, exactly?

          When does Evolution factor into how organic chemistry work? Or medicine? It doesn’t have any factor at all.

          It’s just an explanation of why we exist in the first place, as opposed to the universe just happening to appear due to random chance somehow…

          Meanwhile AGW threatens to cripple the economy of the world, if believers have their way.

    2. Why not segment the voucher into educational requirements? They want to teach creationism in science class? Fine, no science money for you, or a reduced amount. I don’t see why that should tarnish everything else, like math and English. I went to parochial school, and so little of what we learned was in any way related to religion.

      I suppose an alternative would be to have summer classes where you learn all the religious stuff, and then during the school year you learn all the Settled Science the legislature wants you to.

      1. So did I, and the catechism classes were held at night, and the non-Catholic kids didn’t have to go to them.

        The schools should be allowed to teach creationism as an after-school program, or an outside elective (that parents must pay for). I’d be fine with that.

        1. When I went to Catholic school for 1st grade (before I got kicked out for never ever listening to the fucking nuns and constantly questioning them) you had to attend mass every single morning when you got there.

          1. Every single morning? Wow, we only went on Fridays. Must have been a long school day.

            1. It was a short mass. All you did was say a few rote prayers and then split, no more than 15 minutes. It was almost like home room. I don’t remember it that well though.

          2. Yeah, well, the one I was in supported itself by accepting non-Catholic students, so they made arrangements so that the religious stuff was kept separate from the general curriculum.

            There’s no reason why schools that get voucher money can’t do the same thing.

            1. There’s no reason why schools that get voucher money can’t do the same thing.

              Everybody’s got a soft spot for this one regulation that is so easy for people to follow that it couldn’t possibly have negative consequences.

              1. They hate the liberty of others even more than they love their own.

    3. At the public school level ALL SCHOOLS teach pseudoscience. Grade school kids do not have the math to understand anything but crude approximations of the leading edge of scientific thought.

      1. Well, we could at least make an effort to AVOID teaching pseudoscience.

        Plus if it hurts support for vouchers, then we should avoid it for that reason to.

        You basically advocating sacrificing the liberty of millions of parents to get their kids into decent schools on the alter of the liberty of a tiny percentage of parents who want to teach their kids young earth creationism.

        1. No, I’m calling the political Left on a red herring. They aren’t going to agree to anything that threatens their precious Teachers’ Unions, so we just have to accept that. Any objections they make besides “But?but?but you’re threatening to defund my major campaign contributor!” are so much piddle and wind.

          We can’t let vouchers get bogged down in curriculum requirements, because if we do the Left will write them so that only schools that hire Union teachers can qualify. Stick to the very basics; if a school manages to teach the little hellions to read, write, and do basic math, it’s good enough. If it doesn’t, then it isn’t.

          think of it; a voucher system that the public schools DON’T QUALIFY FOR. Wouldn’t THAT set the cat amongst the pigeons!

        2. Plus if it hurts support for vouchers, then we should avoid it for that reason to.

          I can get on board with taking moderate steps instead of radical steps if it bolsters popular support.

          What I cannot abide is taking one step forward and two steps backward and calling that a net positive.

          If and when a mass belief in pseudoscience becomes a problem, i.e. not only do many people believe nonsense but they wish to exercise violence over me to make it so, then we can have a talk about priorities.

          In other words, when the creationists even come close to what progressives are doing with government right now, then we can consider organized opposition to them and their agenda.

          Until then, the creationist threat is indeed just a boogeyman.

    4. Every school teaches pseudo-science. The more left leaning schools teach b.s. about race, history, and economics. The more right leaning schools teach b.s. about sex, medicine, and biology. It’s hard to know which kind of b.s. causes more harm overall.

  7. People are so easily played. Not one large American city maintains a school system in which even a bare majority of students are proficient in any subject. Graduating without actually learning anything is the best case scenario in most of these schools. Is it 99 or 100 percent of employers who say that public school grads are basically unemployable? But sure vouchers are the problem.

    1. Is it 99 or 100 percent of employers who say that public school grads are basically unemployable?

      You were getting close to making a good argument there. Then you threw a completely baseless rhetorical question into it.

      1. You, evidently, haven’t recently attempted to hire a recent high school grad.

  8. But yet, but yet, few on this site propose the obvious alternative. Free markets for education. No vouchers, not magnet schools, no nothing for public education. Abolish all of it, an let the flowers bloom. Let the entrepreneurs buy up public school building and start education businesses.

    If the dumb shits that want to raise their kids on creationism BS choose stupid creationist schools, it is their money, so let them. Alternatively, if good, socialist progs want their kids to learn the latest global warming lunacy, let them. Under free enterprise though, good private schools that want to teach science, real science without a socialists/environmentalist or a creationist agenda can teach real science. In the end, with a free market system, science oriented schools would undoubtedly win the day. Come on Reason, promote the cause. No one else out there is.

    1. I hereby propose it!

      This creationism stuff is just a scare tactic by big government and teachers unions to keep people tethered to shitty schools that cost way too much.

      1. “This creationism stuff is just a scare tactic by big government and teachers unions to keep people tethered to shitty schools that cost way too much.”

        And judging by the response it gets from some libertarians, the tactic is quite effective.

    2. Unfortunately, right now it is a dead end cause. Forget the teacher’s unions. You’ll never get enough support from the everyday people to totally get rid of public funding for education.

      1. I think, like so many things, you have to be careful not to worship the shell of an idea in place of what it represents. Vouchers will only be effective if they allow competition, not just in the physical location of the school, but in the curriculum and pedagogy as well.

        If the state gives out vouchers but demands that private schools hew closely to the conventions of public schools to receive the money, then it is unlikely that vouchers will have a positive effect.

        1. I agree completely. They would be better than the status quo, but not ideal.

    3. Although I’m libertarian leaning and don’t think public schools are particularly high quality, I think it’s still a good idea to have public schools. But public schools should focus on reading, writing, math, engineering, and shop. They can leave out the more controversial topics, since they already seem to have trouble even just covering the uncontroversial ones.

  9. I have to wonder how many people actually read the article and how many just posted a knee-jerk reaction to a belief they disagreed with.

  10. The supporters of the public school status-quo are noticing that the old arguments aren’t getting much traction.

    “Taking money away from public schools!” Well, people are seeing that the point of education policy is to help students, not specific schools.

    “It only benefits the rich!” Parents are starting to believe their lying eyes rather than this baseless claim.

    “These choice schools take away the best students!” Well, no, it’s not just the best students, and anyway, your best students wouldn’t be bailing if you were any good.

    These arguments are losing their effectiveness, so the next step is to bring out the creationism bogeyman.

    1. Taking money away from public schools!

      This one has always been a bit odd, since no practical voucher scheme has ever had 1:1 parity with per-pupil spending by the district implementing it.

      If your district spends $20k per pupil and hands out vouchers for $15k, then students who take the voucher leave behind an extra $5k to be spread among the students who stay in the district’s schools.

      Of course, expecting the people who teach our children to be numerate is quite the stretch apparently.

  11. Personally I’m more troubled by the flawed approach to math they’re trying to teach my son and the distorted liberal revisions of history they’re teaching my niece.

  12. Here’s a thought that’s been rattling around in my head for some time;

    The Reparations For Slavery movement was always on shaky ground. Nobody alive today was a slave in Civil War era America, and nobody alive today was a slaveowner. Nevertheless, we do owe the African American communities reparations. We allowed the meddling do-gooders to remove most local control of their pubic schools, and in the process to comprehensively wreck them. The public schools serving dark skinned poor are measurably worse now than they were in the 1960’s, or even the 1940’s.. Segregation was certainly a violation of basic civil rights, and “separate but equal” was a fraud. But the “reforms” that were pushed through in the 1970’s – particularly the creation of the Department of Education – wrecked the inner city public schools as thoroughly as if they had been turned over to the Klan. We owe them for that. Central planning had its chance and failed spectacularly. It’s time we allowed the poor to make their own mistakes instead of imposing a set of standard ones on them. If they make bad choices, so be it. At least they ail be THEIR choices.

    1. contd.

      I am prepared to stipulate that the school reforms that wrecked the system were made with the very best of intentions. The fact remains that the result could hardly have been worse if they had been intended to deprive inner city Blacks of meaningful education. There was a time when I feel it could be argued that chancing that public funds would be spent on etching bushwa was the wrong choice. Now, though, something must be done to break the present system out of its calcification.

      to this end, does anybody know of a private charity that provides scholarship money for inner city poor to go to private schools in the Philadelphia area? Until we can get vouchers up and running, I feel strongly that I should be donating to that cause.

  13. It’s alarming how many people can post on a libertarian site and get in a twist over one use of a voucher over another and not even address the deep philosophical imposition perpetrated by the confiscation and centralization of wealth that creates an interest in other people’s lives where proper disinterest would, and should, rule without said confiscation. And for the record, the ghost and fairies crowd and bastardizers of science are to be EQUALLY feared when zealots wish to lay their hands on machinery of Force.

    1. If the government didn’t confiscate teh wealth to poorly, and with gross inefficiency provide what passes as an education in our society I expect the Bible would be the most commonly used text in schools and home schooling. As a lifelong agnostic, I think that would be a damn good thing for literacy.

  14. I haven’t seen The Flintstones on broadcast or cable TV for at least a decade.Has it been “pulled from distribution” like so-called racist cartoons have been in the past? Seems like I used to watch the show between once to 5 or more times a week consistently for about 25-30 years straight, excepting the times I didn’t have a CRT handy. It’s probably both my favorite made-for-TV cartoon and one of my favorite sitcoms from the early 1960s. It was pretty much my “420” signal through the 1980s when it ran in that approximate (4-5PM weekdays) timeslot on TBS.

    1. It got released on DVD, in season sets. I’m not absolutely sure, but I think that kicks the legs out from under broadcasting it.

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  16. Perhaps we should take a step back and acknowledge that this “public money” was actually taken in the first place from taxpayers, including parents who might not want their kids taught evolution. If those parents take their kids out of public school because they want them taught something different, the tax dollars stay with the public schools, in effect providing a huge subsidy to those schools because they don’t have to pay to educate the kids who are now in private schools.

    If people have a problem with vouchers going to schools which teach things they don’t agree with, then there are several ways around that. We could simply stop imposing school taxes (forever, with a refund on taxes already paid) on those whose children are sent to private instead of public schools…but that’s unfair to people who don’t have children at all. Or we could just have everyone pay for their kids’ education. But that would be the end of public education as we know it! So sad.

  17. Just drop any government involvement in education and all of this controversy goes away. The free market is quite capable of making education affordable, widespread, and effective.

  18. This is pretty much why a lot of private schools spurn the thought of public money. If they take the money next thing you know the state is telling them what to do and then you back to having a public school.

  19. America believes that humankind was conceived in its present form. If those parents happen not to be rich, should government force them to send their kids to schools that do not compo

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