The Federal Duty to Standardize Reality

I’m not really surprised to hear Michele Bachmann (R-MN) insisting that schools should follow local policy when designing curricula, even and especially when that means teaching intelligent design. She’s obviously wrong — schools should teach science, not clever P.R. schemes –and it’s not like we don’t expect anti-intellectual pandering from her, as she flits from one hilarious conspiracy theory to another. But her motivating theory, that local government can decide what science to teach and why, seems both wrong and dangerous.

Local control properly handles local problems, and matters where local sensibilities and morality are relevant. Social studies, maybe. But from where I sit, 2+2=4 in Manhattan, and in the depths of the Bible Belt, too. Science and math are addressed to universal truths, and we cannot have students learning one form of reality in one part of the country, and another elsewhere. Unless we can avoid that, we’ll end up with a country even more polarized than it is today, where representatives from one state cannot even speak to those from another, because their basic preconceptions about life will diverge so substantially.

Something like this is already happening. When one state can whitewash our founding to avoid any mention of deism, we’re already at risk of forcibly creating a culture where rejecting uncomfortable truths is more important than relating to each other as Americans. That’s not patriotism, and it’s not presidential.

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