The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed yesterday that math scores are down for 4th and 8th graders over the last 2 years.
Reading grades---not much better---flat for 4th graders and lower for 8th graders.
Only 1/3 of the nation's 8th graders were at proficient or above in math and reading.
What's going on?
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is urging parents and teachers "not to panic."
I, along with many of you, watched the Republican debate last night on the NBC business channel. I felt it was the most revealing so far---in fact, in one respect, it was disastrous. I will be talking more about it today, live on the radio at 9 AM PDT---the program is rebroadcast at 7:30 PM PDT. Please join me from anywhere in the world, on the ACN radio network, on your computer, or on your phone.
Duncan says, "We should expect scores in this period to bounce around some"---I would caution everyone to be careful about drawing conclusions.
Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said, "One year doesn't make a trend."
But it isn't just one year.
There is a trend---and it isn't Progressive.
Duncan says it is probably just an "implementation dip" related to Common Core.
Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP, said it was definitely "an unexpected downturn" but "we're trying not to read too much into the decline."
Education administrators are making the point that these lower scores are still above the 1990 scores, however, 1990 was not a high water mark, education had been in decline for decades prior to 1990.
William Jeynes, a professor at California State College in Long Beach and a senior fellow at Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, says the correlation of public education's decline can be traced back to the removal of the Bible from the classroom by the Supreme Court in 1962 and '63.
The Court ruled in 3 different decisions in '62 and '63 that school sponsored Bible reading was unconstitutional
Jeynes is considered an expert on education and the public school system.
He says, "One can argue, and some have, that the decision by the Supreme Court---in a series of three decisions back in 1962 and 1963---to remove the Bible and prayer from our public schools, may be the most spiritually significant event in our nation's history over the course of the last 55 years."
A review of what happened in '62 and '63 sounds like an echo of what is happening today in regard to religious freedom and the cultural influence of Judeo-Christian values in our culture.
On June 25, 1962, the US Supreme Court decided in Engel v. Vitale that a prayer approved by the New York Board of Regents for use in schools violated the First Amendment because it represented establishment of religion.
In 1963, in Abington School District v. Schempp, the Court decided against Bible readings in public schools.
Since 1963, Jeynes identifies 5 negative developments in the nation's public schools:
• Academic achievement has plummeted, including SAT scores.
• Increased rate of out-of-wedlock births
• Increase in illegal drug use
• Increase in juvenile crime
• Deterioration of school behavior
Clearly these consequences come to bear directly on the effectiveness of education.
Other factors include a comparison between the top 5 complaints of teachers from 1940 to 1962 and from 1962 to present.
From 1940 to 1962 the top 5 issues teachers faced in the public schools were---talking in class, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls and getting out of turn in line.
From 1962 to present, the issues facing teachers and administrators have changed dramatically---rape, robbery, assault, arson and massacres in the classrooms.
The question being asked by many is can public education be saved?
It could be, but not through typical secular programs.
There is currently a movement, rarely mentioned in the news---and if so with an opposing tone, to reintroduce the Bible back into the classroom.
Ten states have now passed legislation, or are in the process of passing it, to bring back the Bible as literature in public schools statewide.
The Bible as literature is currently taught in 440 public school districts in 43 states.
The movement, at this point, is secular in nature, with the Bible being taught as literature rather than as the Word of God---but it is a start.
A large majority of both religious and non-religious citizens consistently tell polls and surveys that they believe the teaching of the Bible in the public classroom would be positive, not negative.
Noah Webster, an American Founding Father and generally considered the father of public education in our country, was very clear in how he understood successful education.
He said: "In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed...No truth is more evident in my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people."
He also said, on the record: "Education is useless without the Bible."
Daniel Webster, a distant relative, who later served in the US Senate---whose statue stands in the US Capital today honoring him as the greatest statesman to ever serve in the Senate---said, "If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."
It's time for America to wake up, get involved and reclaim the country that was birthed in biblical beliefs and principles.
I believe there is the beginning of an awakening. Perilous times are causing people to rethink the political correctness that is destroying our country and our culture---and look at what is real and lasting.
Be Bold. Be Faithful. Be Blessed.