This week’s post comes from Monday’s POLITICO story titled “Special report: Taxpayers fund creationism in the classroom.” The piece was not lacking in reader feedback: more than 14,000 comments so far.
One such comment—which does not appear to be in response to any other posts—reads as follows:
But both incidences are worth pointing out because of a critical difference between the two that 66gardeners and others often fail to realize: Families in private schools are free to leave when emergencies require it. Those in public school—particularly those with fewer financial means—have little to no recourse when it comes to pulling their kids out of public schools when scandalous behavior occurs. That is exactly why families need school choice.
And that choice is critical, even when it comes to creationism.
Because creationism teaching can occur occasionally in public schools that provides even more reason why families need the freedom to opt out of schools where they might feel uncomfortable. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Q. McShane pointed out over at National Review Online:
Imagine yourself moving to a state where a majority of citizens believe in creationism. If you agree with the wealth of human knowledge that our world developed through the process of evolution, you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle. Because local school boards and state boards of education are elected or appointed by elected officials, it’s most likely that they will represent the viewpoints of creationists, which will then be reflected in school curriculum.
You actually don’t have to imagine this. Just watch the documentary The Revisionaries, which chronicles the Texas State Board of Education’s efforts to include creationism in public schools. In 2008, Louisiana passed the Science Education Act, which allowed public-school teachers to supplement science instruction with texts critical of evolution. In 2012, Tennessee passed a similar law. From 2005 to 2007, Kansas science standards promoted Intelligent Design and “Teaching the Controversy” about evolution and creationism.
If you’re a poor person in Louisiana or Tennessee, or at times Texas or Kansas, a voucher might be your only way out of a school that teaches creationism. If creationists are set on taking over school boards or state legislatures, school-choice programs might also work as a release valve for creationists to inflict their teachings on only their own children, and not yours.
Just because families empowered with school choice have the ability to leave schools doesn’t mean they all will—as evidenced by the low percentage rates for participation in school choice programs. Still, it’s imperative families have that option, because no child should be forced to stay in an environment counter to their beliefs or harmful to their security. And their parents should have the ability to hold schools accountable by leaving, especially when disturbing incidences are kept from them.