Monday, March 20, 2006

Resolving Moral Dilemmas

Our public schools are becoming a battle ground in the culture wars. The First Ammendment Institute along with Wayne Jacobsen have collaborated on a report to help solve this "crisis".

In school districts across the nation, escalating conflicts involving sexual orientation in the curriculum, student clubs, speech codes and other areas of school life are undermining the educational mission of our schools. (snip)

For the process to work, school officials must be fair, honest brokers of a dialogue that involves all stakeholders. That means, first and foremost, that school leaders must refrain from choosing sides in the culture-war debate over homosexuality. If schools are going to find agreement on policies and practices that bring the community together, it won't be by taking a side and coercing others to accept it.

School districts divided about how to handle issues concerning sexual orientation should take a step back from the debate and find agreement on First Amendment principles. Most Americans can agree that freedom of religion and speech are inherent rights for all.

The schools are to be the arbitors for dialogue? Choosing not to take sides in the debate? When did it becomes the school's role to find agreement on policies and practicies that bring communities together? I thought they were supposed to teach reading, writing, an arithmetic. They can't even seem to do that well and yet we're supposed to trust them to try their hand at consensus building in our communities in other areas? Since when did the communities ascribe them that role?

This debate and other similar ones are bound to happen in a society which forces a one size fits all educational system. Education is by it's nature a value system. It's not just facts and events to be memorized in isolation. It is ascribing value to those events. But whose values? What I consider right you may consider wrong. That is the built in dilemma of state run schools. There is no such thing as values neutral in education. Yet the state pretends to do exactly that.

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