Tomorrow, the Texas State Board of Education has scheduled six hours for public testimony on the K-12 science curriculum.Many individuals from all over Texas will testify on whether or not evolution should be taught in science classes in Texas public schools. Parents, engaged citizens, scientists, teachers and their associations, and others will continue to spend an enormous amount of time and energy battling this issue.

The battle between evolution and creationism has been waged for decades during curriculum rewrites, at school board meetings, and in science classrooms of government schools. Whatever the outcome of the SBOE’s vote, this controversy is not going away and will probably continue to cause social conflict for decades to come.

The same goes for sex education. Should government schools teach abstinence-only sexual education, or should the curriculum discuss birth control methods? Many individuals base their view on the best way to teach health in government schools on their moral values and religious beliefs.

And then there is the war over school prayer. Obviously, both sides feel very strongly about religious expression in government schools and have committed substantial resources in legal battles to protect their view.

What you won’t hear in any of these debates is that none would occur if parents had choice.

Unless a parent can afford to send their child to private school or home school their child, they are stuck with the school assigned by the government. But if tax dollars followed the student to the school of their choice, parents could pick a school with the curriculum they feel most comfortable.

The CATO Institute’s recent study Why We Fight: How Public Schools Cause Social Conflict documents more than 150 incidents of social conflict in the 2005-06 school year. CATO author Neal McCluskey says to end the fighting, “we should transform our system from one in which government establishes and controls schools, to one in which individual parents are empowered to select schools that share their moral values and educational goals for their children.”

Choice is better for students, for parents, and for society as a whole. Everyone’s time is much better spent helping students learn than waging this trench warfare.

– Brooke Terry