Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Where's My Ruler?
Butteville, California's Union Elementary School District is the latest to consider transferring funds earmarked for such frippery as books and teachers and, you know, educating the children in its charge and, instead, blowing it on the ACLU's legal fees.
In a discussion on an information/action agenda item, "Evolution versus Intelligent Design Taught in the Classroom," during the district's board meeting last Wednesday, trustees agreed to seek legal counsel regarding the issue.Which is all the stranger because trustee Steve Hart reported that school funds could not be used to fund either legal counsel or the proposed program. Worse, in an extension of the old (and true) saying that "a lawyer who represents himself ...," the board president, Stephen Darger, a practicing attorney and former police officer, is encouraging this move:
I think this will be a big issue in the Supreme Court before long. Maybe it will be with this school.Thus, Darger is looking to make the poor students in the community a "test case." Darger went on to opine, according to the news report, that in order to legally teach intelligent design in a public school the subject would have to remain entirely secular and only offer possible explanations for what evolution cannot explain. That's not what the Supreme Court said in Edwards v. Aguillard. Justice Brennan stated that the Court was not ruling out the possibility that a government agency could "require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories" be taught, leaving quite a hurdle for teaching ID successfully.
And just for icing on the cake, Hart, who proposed the move, made it clear that the board has Dover-like understanding of evolutionary theory, to go along with their understanding of the law:
What we would like to do is include [in the curriculum] a way for students to look at evolution with critical minds and become aware of things (in evolution) that are no longer accepted. Science has always excluded supernatural phenomenon. Although there are risks, this is something that would benefit the entire school.Of course, if there are things being taught in the district's schools that "are no longer accepted," the board is already doing a poor job. More likely, we will see William Buckinghamish statements about science and ID.
So, dollars to donuts, if anything comes of this at all, you are going to have the school board consulting some free "Christian law firm" (after all, they've done such bang-up jobs in Dover and just recently in the case against the University of California -- and it being "Christian" won't give the game away at all), and community members raising money in churches to teach a purely "secular" course, and the kids being in the middle of this tug-of-war before the ACLU winds up collecting its legal fees out of money that should have been spent in the classroom rather than the courtroom.
About the only thing that may save them from themselves is the teachers:
School principal and superintendent Cynthia McConnell reported that teachers would not be legally required to teach intelligent design, or anything other than state education requirements.Now, there's a lesson worth having in the curriculum.
In this case it is probably the triumph of hope over inexperience.