The deleted language was as follows:
Grade 10, Indicator 23: "Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. (The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.)" [source]Now clearly, this kind of language shouldn't be controversial. One would hope that at a tenth grade level student could learn about how scientists "continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of" a whole host of theories. That is, after all, what scientists do with theories. However, on the highly charged intersection of evolution, creationism and intelligent design, such things are often not what they seem and common sense does not prevail.
That much is hardly news, and I might have let the whole thing slip by, except that the mere existence of the spat over these two sentences made me think about the deeper problems with our public education system. Two of the biggest problems with it being, at least in my estimation, that it is huge, and it is (at least to an extent) centralized.
It seems to me that education should be an artisan product, not a mass commodity. If one is responsible for funding and organizing a huge number of schools (as a state board of education is) I certainly understand the desire to write out detailed instructions in order to try to assure that teaching at a given grade level is fundamentally similar and always hits a certain base level of quality. Indeed, perhaps that is the only way that one can run such a large school system. If so, that would simply confirm in my mind the idea that one simply shouldn't have such a large school system. After all, the people who will be directly impacted by the quality of a school are the children attending it, their parents, and the immediate community into which these children shall (with whatever the school declares to be a sufficient education) be set loose.
In the ideal world (if you're not educating your children yourself, which seems to be the way we're heading towards here in Darwin-land) it seems like the procedure would be that a school would hire a teacher based on their belief that the teacher both possessed a thorough knowledge of his subject and showed strong teaching skills, and the teacher would then be more-or-less free to pick his own books and lesson plan. If the school board or principle did not agree with content or presentation which the teacher favored, they might ask him to modify his methods, or they might seek out a more congenial teacher. But this fussing, sentence by sentence, of guidelines of what teachers ought to teach and how they ought to do it detracts from the centrality of the teacher. One can always, I am convinced, learn far more from an individual (almost any individual) than from a committee, no matter how earnest in its work.