In my earlier post on the White Paper produced by the Poynter Center, I failed to mention what I now see as a unique and valuable contribution of this paper. What brings this to mind now is a review of the Cato Institute Debate between Michael Shermer and Jonathan Wells. In my post on that debate (with links for the online video), I commented:
Unlike the science blogs that follow this, my blog is devoted to curriculum, so for my purposes one of the most concerning aspects of this event was the common agreement by Shermer, Wells, and the Cato moderator that the desirable solution for curriculum would be for public schooling to be replaced by private schools, so that all parents could just send their own children to a school that will teach what the parents want their own kids to believe.
A huge contribution of the Poynter Center’s White Paper is a reframing of the issue in terms of what kind of science education serves the preparation of citizens in a democratic public polity — revealing how this is not merely a conflict among privately-held convictions that might be resolved through a choice or voucher system that would disengage the conflict over universal public school curriculum, by leaving this up to choices made within individual households. The White Paper makes a number of other arguments that are being made by others, but I think this framing of the issue in terms of civic education is the special and unique contribution from this paper.