The problem is that his ruling can do little to end the battle over evolution versus creationism, because it doesn't address the root cause of that battle: our monolithic government-sanctioned schools.
It's that simple. By combining a pluralistic society with a one-size-fits-all education system, we have created a perpetual conflict machine.
It's so terrible that we have to fight ignorance and promote proper science education, so we should just get rid of the education system altogether! It's caused nothing but trouble!
His identification of the "root cause" is pretentious and self-serving. There already are private Christian schools that teach creationism/ID, so it's not like there is no place to go. This hasn't stopped the conflict in the public school arena. I also fail to see how locally based school districts equals monolithic or one-size-fits-all.
The root cause, if anything, is a misguided religion-vs-science dispute where any factual description of our origins is unfairly seen as showing that God is irrelevant, with a health dose of anti-intellectualism in the culture.
By offering tax relief to middle-income families, and tuition scholarships to those with lower incomes, we could bring independent schooling within reach of every family.
Such a system can be designed, using tax credits for both personal use and for donations to private scholarship funds, in such a way that no government money is spent on education. [Emphasis mine]
Somehow, I think the lower classes are going to get shafted in this deal.
Others argue that some areas of knowledge are simply too important to be left to parental discretion, and that the (presumably all-wise and all-knowing) state must step in to ensure that these are taught to all children.
In addition to being patently un-American, such an authoritarian approach to education is both ineffective and shortsighted.
Requiring science education to stick to, ya know, science is just too much for some people. I have no problem letting scientists decide what the scientific consensus is, and leave non-scientist parents out of it. This isn't authoritarian. It's consulting experts who know what they're talking about.
Evolution has been the official government curriculum for several decades, and only a third of Americans think it is well-supported by the evidence. Slightly more than half adhere to the biblical creation story. So we've tried the official knowledge thing, and it doesn't work.
More defeatism...But it does put the lie to the claim that we're forcing people's beliefs on the issue.
What you won't get in the paper: Coulson's disdain of reality.
After all, does it really matter if some Americans believe intelligent design is a valid scientific theory while others see it as a Lamb of God in sheep's clothing? Surely not. While there are certainly issues on which consensus is key -- respect for the rule of law and the rights of fellow citizens, tolerance of differing viewpoints, etc. -- the origin of species is not one of them.
Consensus on reality isn't key? Science is what helps us make sense of the natural world. This goes far beyond the issue of origins, and touches on many issues important to Coulson's Cato Institute, such as environmental issues. And environmental issues is another hot button area where partisans try to dispute the science, when the real disagreement is over policy/ideology.
In Coulson's world, people should exist in their own little bubbles, and never have their children deal with any disagreement with their views, or, *gasp*, that those views might be factually wrong.
Nothing is gained, for instance, by compelling conformity on school prayer, random drug testing, the set of religious holidays that are worth observing, or the most appropriate forms of sex education.
We can't have sex-education based on reality either. Nope, we have texaggeratete condom failures, keep girls from getting vaccinated against a cancer-causing virus, knowledge of effective birth control and safe-sex measures out of their hands (if not the actual measures themselves), and hope that scaring them out of sex will both prevent them from doing it, and see it as a wonderful act on their wedding night.
Coulson's plan would be a complete disaster.
Update: NEVER use Blogger's spell check. That is all.