Sunday, April 27, 2008
You may remember Matt LaClair, the young man who dared to stand up to a popular teacher who was proselytizing his personal faith to his students. He's back with an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times about more institutionalized "evangelism":
... I thought I was done with controversy for a while. But now, in my senior year, I am back in the midst of it. In one of my classes, we use the 10th edition of "American Government" by James Q. Wilson, a well-known conservative academic, and John J. DiIulio, a political scientist and former head of President Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.Matt points out that the text incorrectly claims that students may not pray in public schools. Even aside from the waggish point that there will always be prayer in schools as long as there are pop math quizzes, students may organize Bible clubs and prayer groups on the same terms as any other student activity. All that cannot be done is to have officials lead official or mandatory prayers or to organize the student prayers in such a way as to endorse them with the power of the government. But that was not all:
[T]he section on global warming begins with a few well-chosen words to set the tone: "It is a foolish politician who today opposes environmentalism. And that creates a problem because not all environmental issues are equally deserving of support. Take the case of global warming."Matt once again shows how preternaturally mature he is:
The authors neglect to mention the growing scientific consensus on this subject. They dismiss those who are concerned about global warming -- that is, the overwhelming majority of scientists -- as "activists" motivated not by data but by "entrepreneurial politics." Those who deny or downplay it are described as "skeptical scientists."
Pointing out dissent within the scientific community is appropriate. Suggesting that the majority, but not the minority, is politically motivated is not appropriate.
What is most distressing is not that some public school teachers preach their religion, or that some authors put politics ahead of education. It is that it is so rare for anyone to call them on it. ...Well said!
As Americans, we should stand up for our common values. We should champion education and settle for nothing less than the best. Our teachers should do the same and should not misuse their positions to promote their personal agendas.