Sunday, December 25, 2005

Why Teaching Intelligent Design is Such a Problem

Tibor R. Machan

Whenever a controversy arises in government funded and administered educational(?) institutions, no one in the mainstream media mentions the real source of the problem. Whether it is making the study of sex, environment, or, currently, intelligent design mandatory, the real issue is systematically avoided. This is whether there ought to be government education in a free society at all.

It is widely recognized that there should not be a government newspaper to which everyone must subscribe and which must be read by all. For good reason. The press must be free from entanglement with the government, with an agency that has as its sole job in a free country to protect individual rights. The tools and methods required for this job are entirely out of order when it comes to producing newspapers. Newspapers report on what the publishers and editors deem to be vital issues within the various layers of community of readers are members. We have local, state, national and international coverage, all important to some readers, but none of these is government’s job to accomplish. So in a free society there is likely to be a wide variety of approaches to news coverage, not to mention to editorializing. Government must adhere to the rule of law, which is supposed to be the same for all. It is naturally a one-size-fits-all undertaking.

Sadly, the fact that education should be in exactly the same position as the press within a human community simply hasn’t gotten recognized, probably because once some profession has gained the government’s support, it isn’t likely to give it up no matter how many problems arise from this. Look at PBS and NPR and Amtrak and the US Postal Service’s first class delivery. They are all well entrenched governmental undertakings and have produced a firmly loyal constituency that will not let go. Look at all the subsidies and protectionism certain industries receive—none want to give it up.

Public elementary and high school education administrators and teachers are no different, nor are those at public colleges and universities. They have a government protected monopoly, a job with tenure possibilities and in no danger of falling prey to the volatilities of free markets. Sure, millions of people are not finding work in these government run institutions because those who are there have managed to achieve job security. Sure, many subjects do not receive any attention from the teachers because giving them attention would reveal the malpractice perpetrated. History courses are virtually all taught with blatant bias, as are public finance courses, those in civics and so forth. But never mind, the faculty has a guaranteed position and hardly any elementary and high school, nor again state college or universities, ever goes out of business (the way private businesses routinely do). And what cannot be seen, isn’t missed much.

Now we have this hoopla about intelligent design—whether public schools should or should not teach it, make mention of it in biology courses, and all the rest. A case is pending in Kansas and if the judge rules in favor of public schools there having to include mention of it, the issue may end up in the highest court.

In a free country, however, there would be no such problem. Within a given school, college, or university the matter could surface, just as it could now at various private schools, colleges, and universities. But it would all be decided by their administrators and faculty independently of government, just as is the content of newspapers. It could not become a national political issue.

It is because governments run schools that these matters become so politicized and dealt with by legislatures and courts. Sadly even the private entertainment sector may be faced with government intervention—legislators in Washington are threatening to regulate cable and dish television content!

With the public sector growing by leaps and bounds, soon it’ll be a political issue whether one may part one’s hair or worship in this or that church.

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