January 11, 2009
The philosophy and means of education in our nation have interested and concerned me for a long time. Recently I posted on Facebook a couple of videos with strong messages about education. I thought both these presentations had several points worth serious consideration, certainly thought-provoking – even controversial. I didn’t anticipate the offense the videos would cause at least one friend of mine. Upon reflection, I shouldn’t be surprised. My friend Debbie throws her whole heart and more into whatever she does! Why wouldn’t she take personally a commentary on the education system in which she wholeheartedly labors? That gave me pause to further consideration.
Those videos are very specific, yet paint with a broad brush. We all know there are exceptions in every situation. My concerns about education have to do with underlying world view and who’s in control. Those are the concerns, evidently, of the two video presenters as well. The things said here almost certainly do not apply to every school nor to every administrator or teacher. Yet, those things are not just made up out of pure imagination and I believe they do apply generally to the nation’s government education system.
I can only applaud and admire teachers and administrators who are sold out to Jesus and are in a government school seeking to make a difference! I know my friend Debbie is one of the exceptions and likely so is her school, where possible, because of who she is. It doesn’t hurt either that her school is in a localized Bible Belt in the Northwest. Likewise my wife’s cousin David (who also may have been offended) and his school, because of who he is and by being in the Bible Belt in the Midwest. Variations exist around the country. These videos were not aimed, at least in my mind, at specific individuals, but were responses to observed practices and outcomes in our government schools.
However, speaking to these admired followers of Jesus working in the system: I would be surprised if you don’t have to live with a speech code, not being allowed to say certain things or bring up certain topics. I’d be surprised if there were not specific curriculum restrictions. I would be surprised if the NEA had no influence in your district. I’d be surprised if political correctness was absent in the system in which you serve. I’d be surprised if there were no pressures in the district to sexualize kids and to abundantly bless the lately baptized new Badge of Honor: Coming Out Gay. Maybe I’m wrong!
I’ve told many parents that every school is a religious school. It’s inescapable. An ultimate authority is in view, and that ultimate authority is the one to which the school or district submits on questions of content and practice. Neutrality is a myth and impossible.
These parents have heard from me that they need to know what religion is primary at their kids’ school – and make their decision about schooling with their eyes wide open on that score. That religion will be the deciding factor in what’s taught, how it’s taught, what the underlying world view is, and whether or not certain speech is prohibited. Yes, with variations. Yet, world view and sovereignty are inescapable and present in every system of education.
True – everything can’t be laid at the doorstep of the schools. There is parental involvement, there is the Church. They interrelate, of course. Parents must be engaged – fully engaged – in their kids’ education. Matter of fact, the Word of God gives them primary responsibility for it. When they send their kids off to school, government school or not, they are sub-contracting some or all of their responsibility. They have an over-riding interest in the results of that sub-contracting.
A recent Barna poll showed that 9% of Christians have a comprehensive, integrated biblical world view. (This was a primary impetus for the development of the Truth Project from Focus on the Family.) Quoting from a news article about this: “For the purposes of the research, a biblical world view was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.”
Nine percent of American “born-again” Christians have such a world view! That’s disgusting. Surely there are many reasons. Would anyone say that 12 years of education of our kids has zero influence on this situation? Corporations spend plenty of green believing they can influence you with 30 seconds of TV time.
Some eighty percent of church-going young people turn away from living their faith in God by the time they are 29 years of age. What are the reasons?
Parents need to be highly engaged, as I said, no matter what kind of schooling their kids have. Many are. What I often see is that these parents have to counter what their kids are getting. They have to do remedial work. Is it good to have their minds filled with philosophy counter to what they want embedded in the hearts and minds of their kids, and then have to work to unteach at least some of it? Isn’t that an exercise in wheel-spinning? There is a battle – a war – for the minds of the young around the world. Would we send kids into physical battle with guns and uniforms before being fully trained and mature?
I have heard parents who have been supporters of government schooling and having gladly had their kids involved there, subsequently question the wisdom of what they did as they have viewed results. We’ve all seen the examples in the news. Recently a sixth-grade boy in Mississippi received a deduction when he mentioned Jesus in a creative writing assignment. He chose one of the 3 available topics, which was: “What Christmas Means to Me”. Ironic indeed. He said Christmas meant Jesus to him. Bad Boy. Bad Word. The principle did overrule in this case, but the teacher still refused to keep her promise to post all the creative writing papers.
Recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that parents’ constitutional rights are limited when their kids are in government schools. Here’s the text of the ruling by the judge who wrote for the panel (I added bold highlight – please let this simmer in your mind awhile): “We hold there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs ….'” (That statement should absolutely rattle anyone who is rational) Continuing, he wrote: “We conclude only that the parents are possess [sic] of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on [sex education] to their students in any forum or manner they select.”
Shouldn’t this kind of thinking make many parents ponder options to sending their kids to a government school? This man just said that your rights as parents of your own children are null and void when they pass through the door of the indoctrination center school building. I recognize that the Ninth Circuit Court issues bizarre rulings as a matter of standard practice, but this mindset is everywhere in the land.
In the mid-80’s, a Christian school in Nebraska was padlocked by state authorities. The kids were considered truant because they weren’t in an official school. Pastors were jailed and fined heavily. In the court sessions that followed, one of the arguments advanced was that children belonged to the state, not to the parents. In that case, the state lost. But the mindset prevails today, and proponents are getting bolder. Again, it’s a matter of world view and control. Who or what is Sovereign? Who owns the kids? Who or what is the final authority? Who or what controls?
Current practice in government schooling involves (among others things good and bad): undermining of parents, sexualization of kids, social experimentation/behavioral psychology, and at best indifference, or at worst, hostility, to the Source of all truth – God Almighty and His recorded Word. Do I say this is true of every single school? No. Is it true of every single person working in government schools? No. There is a remnant of the faithful. But I do say these things are outgrowths of the underlying world view and the issue of sovereignty.
Read the NEA’s resolutions passed at the 2008 convention for a real education. Makes you think, to quote commentator Hans Zieger, that the “NEA platform reads a bit like a manifesto of a Third World socialist party.” He went on to cite the “NEA’s typical opposition to parental choice, local educational control, charter schools, performance-based teacher salaries, vouchers, religious faith in school, and – since many NEA members pay dues by force of threat, intimidation and coercion – ordered liberty in general”. One of the resolutions I find downright flabbergasting: they want to eliminate competency as a qualification for teacher employment! Idea: just hire people walking by on the street.
You ask: shouldn’t we do our best to reform the government education system? My answer: in my opinion, two things must happen before that can even be a possibility. First, eliminate the federal Department of Education (since it’s unconstitutional in the first place) and return to local control of schools. Second, eliminate the National Education Association. Free the teachers.
Original purposes of the current public school system included increased separation of families, having greater influence over the kids apart from parental influence, and changing the religious basis from biblical truth to humanism. That dream is being realized in greater degree every year. Except: more and more parents are choosing otherwise. The movement to leave government schools is growing, and it’s not without a solid foundation. This in spite of the fact that people I love and never intended to offend happen to be giving their best to try to make a difference.