Failing Schools: Focus On Symptoms Or Find A Cure
by Kevin Probst
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There are people all over the country who are enraged by the fact that our country has recently been leaning more and more toward socialism, or perhaps more accurately, toward fascism. These same people who rave against the socialist policies enacted in government and business seem to be just fine and dandy when these same methods are being used in the behemoth American educational system.
Public schools are often referred to as government schools. The government has a monopoly on the establishment and enforcement of laws in this country. Government schools enjoy a monopoly when it comes to educating our youth. The system is supported by public taxation. There is always a large pool of money available. If parents choose to withdraw their children and enroll them in a private school or educate them at home they are still required shell out money in support of their local public school. Parents who make this choice end up paying twice. Public education’s dependence on compulsory taxation explains a lot about what is wrong with government schools. The quality of the product is always improved with competition and quality always declines in its absence.
The methods of educating public school children are similar to the assembly line of an early 20th century factory. They are to report to the same place at the same time with the same teacher every day. They all sit in identical seats and each one must remain in the same seat day after day. The teacher unpacks a prepared standardized curriculum which rarely changes from year to year. All the students are evaluated in the same way at the same time on the same day. This method of factory produced pupils will frustrate the gifted child and discourage the struggling child.
The most important element in the politically correct philosophy of the government educational system is the self-esteem of each child. Some schools prohibit teachers from using red ink to grade papers because a paper with many red marks on it could prove devastating to the self-esteem of the child. Children can no longer measure their athletic skills against their opponents because competition has been eliminated on the playground. Everyone is a winner, everyone gets a trophy and everyone leaves feeling good about themselves. Do you wonder why the Occupy Movement is inundated with millions of 25 year olds who think very highly of themselves and wonder why the government hasn’t already paid off their educational loans and provided them with a house to live in?
Real achievement is attained when students grasp the intrinsic values of striving for excellence, when they understand that competition will be a permanent part of their adult life and hard work and a healthy dose of innovation will be the path to success. Are educators doing our students an injustice when they dump truck loads of praise on middle school students who still use their fingers to add and subtract and on high school students who think Chicago is the third largest state in the union?
One of the more disturbing things I experienced having worked fifteen years in public education was watching certain students march across the stage and receive their diploma even though I knew and all the other teachers and administrators knew they could not read. They gripped their diploma with smiles on their faces, the principle shook their hands, their parents hooted like owls and they experienced the euphoric feeling of having finally finished a twelve year educational marathon. They were done a disservice, they were socially promoted and they were lied to and many of them became very disillusioned and distressed when they discovered they couldn’t fill out a job application. Most of them lacked the simple math and language skills to work at McDonalds.
Tax payers have shelled out trillions of dollars to educate American youth. You would expect some outstanding results after making such an investment but the truth is that poor academic achievement and the high school drop-out rate remains a huge problem. Drop-out rates are measured in different ways. Some districts don’t count those who dropped out during the summer or those who dropped out to get married. But rates have consistently been between 10% and 20%. Anywhere from 40% to 80% of our students fail the standardized tests first time around. U.S. students are not being prepared for the global economy as evidenced by the fact that they scored 25th in math skills among 34 countries tested while China ranked first. Obviously there is little correlation between the amount of money spent and academic achievement.
This is a common argument used against public education along with the accusation that government schools are breeding grounds for promiscuous sex, venues for excessive violence and they are used as vehicles to indoctrinate our children with theories of evolution and socialism. Perhaps when we observe these things we are really only viewing the symptoms rather than the actual disease itself. Perhaps the real problem is that we as Christians cry out vehemently against socialism in any other area of our society but we incomprehensibly continue to tolerate socialism in our educational system. Perhaps the real problem is that we have abdicated our God-given responsibility to educate our children to an anti-Christian government.
Christians are against murder. We don’t oppose murder by fighting against certain methods of murder. We protest murder in all its forms in every situation. Perhaps we are failing when we disapprove of the methods of public education rather than the institution itself. We combat the symptoms instead of the disease.
The Bible clearly grants the state very limited power (Romans 13) The government’s responsibility to its citizens is to protect them and punish those who would do them harm. That’s it. That’s all the Bible says about the obligations of government to its people. There is nothing in the Bible that states that it is the government’s responsibility to educate our children. The responsibility to educate children belongs exclusively to the parents. (Deuteronomy 6) Government schools are often governed by the greed of those who can’t wait to get their grubby hands on the public coffers and by parents who love the idea of educating their children at their neighbor’s expense. Would it be too extreme to say that government schools are not scriptural?
The government has successfully removed all evidence of the existence of God from public schools. Teachers will be arrested for uttering the name of Christ. R.C. Sproul, Jr. said, “All of reality exists so that God’s name would be known and the government school says you can’t name his name.” The government sets schools up to be anti-Christian. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) how can our children learn wisdom and knowledge if the foundations for such learning have been removed?
A civilization finds itself in great peril when its institutions blatantly ignore God and wink at evil. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…” (Isaiah 5:20) Parents must counteract what their children are learning in government schools. God loves life and it is immoral to kill a baby still in the womb. God meant for men and women to enjoy sexual relations and to use it as a means of procreation, he is angered when we use his gifts for our own perversions. God created the earth and we must never be so blatantly bold as to take that glory away from him and give it to another.
The state schools have crossed the line into territory where they have no business being. Parents, don’t let the government teach their values to your children.
“We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done…which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” (Psalm 78:4-6) Government schools have no commitment to the truth in these verses. This responsibility belongs to parents and the body of believers who call themselves Christians.
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You are absolutely correct on every point!