When deciding where I want my wife and I to land, I sometimes say “I don’t want to live in a place where I am the only vote on the school board in favor of teaching evolution.
It is thoroughly depressing the degree to which the Left controls the public education system. Up until recently, I would have thought this was was a function of Big Ed / Teacher's Union power, but at least in Φ's lily-white little burg, the truth is more complicated. I volunteered to serve on a parents committee that (among a dozen other "stakeholder" committees) interviewed candidates for school superintendent. With a couple of partial exceptions, I was the only conservative among the 20 or so participants, and the loudest voices were liberals. I asked a school board member why the group was so unrepresentative and he told me that this was who the volunteers were. (The truth of this is also more complicated: the opportunity was not widely advertised; my wife found out about it by accident, and people who worked in public education were suspiciously overrepresented. Still.)
But I have my doubts about how useful "evolution" is as a proxy for Liberalism. I was actually surprised, once I became a public school parent, how little evolution plays a role in the elementary curriculum. As I have blogged many times, I don't really have a problem with evolution as long as it stays in its own sandbox, which, on the internet at least, it never does. My older daughter, in contrast, is a strong creationist. I don't have a problem with this either -- if anything, I am proud of her for her informed non-conformism -- but I have warned her that if she follows her ambition of pursuing biological sciences, she will have to get used to working within an evolutionary paradigm.
I can think of several possibilities why the virus of aggressive evolution has apparently run its course. It may be that the issue has been gamed out, that the forces of Organized Creationism have fought evolution to a draw, at least in our district. If this is true, I haven't heard about it, and I see no evidence for it in any other aspect of the education program. More likely in my view is that the Left has lost interest. Evolution was their preferred vehicle for anti-Christianity, but Christianity has been driven out of the schools regardless. Another motivation is that the implications of evolution have become more apparent, leaving the Left discomfited. It could be that the Left decided that the constituency for evolution-as-atheism was never going to be very large, and it was better to find a new fault line.
Which they did.
In the three grades to which my own children have had some exposure, the curriculum has said exactly nothing about Roger Williams, Lord Baltimore, John Smith, George Oglethorpe, Henry Hudson, and William Bradford. It has said nothing about Alexander and Patrick Hamilton, John Adams, John Jay, James Madison, and John Marshall. It has said nothing about the Missouri Compromise or the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Louisiana Purchase may have come up (Sacajawea, natch), as was the Northwest Ordinance (which created our state), but that's it.
So no American history in the elementary grades. What do they teach?
Martin Luther King. Harriet Tubman. Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges. And then back to Martin Luther King in a Never. Ending. Cycle. I do not exaggerate when I say that not a week or two went by that my children were not given a book or a reading or a lecture or a movie about !!Diversity!! It became a game for us: they would come home and say, "Guess what we learned today!" and I would be able to guess the answer in four tries merely by running through the list of names above.
Several things about this.
First of all, as someone who cares next to nothing about Black History, I can easily rattle off a longer list of names from my own elementary education 35 years ago, and maybe muster a sentence or two about them: Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington. I remember learning about Huey Newton and Malcolm X, as well, although to be fair, that may have been in high school. So if the point is make sure that Famous Blacks Are Included, then the overemphasis on the Big Four is doing a disservice. Not that they shouldn't be included in a study of American history. They should. But remember, my children aren't actually being taught American history.
Second, I object to the obsession. I would probably raise objections to any obsession of neutral poiitical content. I especially object to obsessions that bring my daughter home to tell me that she's tired of being told how her ancestors are always cast as the bad guys.
Few of the students believe this propaganda. But they are exquisitely sensitive to taboos and the power that enforces them. In Junior High School, no profanity is unfamiliar to them, but honest discussions of race leave them in utter terror.
And it terrifies their parents, too. In private discussions, they have admitted that they have noticed the propagandistic nature of this curriculum, even when they have no political axe to grind. But nobody dares speak up. Which I believe is basically the point of the exercise: make people afraid.