Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Broken Public School System

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While pubic education touches all of us, some, more than others, in property taxes; there is a growing sense of frustration with the direction and quality of public education. Particularly among those who have school age children or grandchildren.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has completed a new report on education. The report includes 2012, but was released last week.

The study was focused on parent and family involvement in education.

Their study included 2 topics related to home schooling.

While their findings reflect concern with parents across the country, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) says, "This is an exciting report."

Here are the facts from the study and some thoughts on public schooling, private schooling, home schooling and Common Core.

The study found that about 1,770,000 students are now home schooled in the US. That's an increase of about 300,000 since the last government study which was taken in 2007.

The home school rate in the US is now 3.4%. The highest for home schooling was found in the 9th to 12th grade equivalent group at 3.7%, with 5th - 6th grade at 3.4%, and K-2nd at 3.1%

Dr. Susan Berry says, "Regarding reasons for home schooling, 91% of parents who participated in the survey said a 'concern about the environment of other schools' was one important reason, while 25% said it was the most important reason they home schooled."

She says, "Of the schooling parents surveyed, 74% responded that 'a dissatisfaction' was one important reason for home schooling, while 19% said this was the most important reason."

"Religious instruction" was cited by 64% of parents as being important to them, while 77% of parents said they have "a desire to provide moral instruction."

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) says the report is exciting, "It shows that parents continue to choose to home school their children, even during a time of economic difficulty."

The HSLDA also cited another recent study that found the number of students in private schools continues to fall.

They noted that in 5 years, home schooling has grown by 17% in total numbers of students home schooled.

Certainly this says something about the perceived value of parental involvement in educating children, and about home schooling as a very viable option.

It also points out once again that many Americans believe that government run public education is broken.

Desperately broken.

It also points out that a number of Christians, conservatives and simply concerned families, are not sending their children to private schools as they once did.

Without a doubt, economic conditions play a part in that. Parents who are property owners are forced through taxes to support the government run schools, while being denied school choice or vouchers in educating their children. Government is breaking the financial back of average Americans. Beyond that, there are likely several reasons driving the decline in number of parents sending their children to private schools. That is a separate discussion.

However, the dissatisfaction with government run public education is undeniable. And it is growing.

The mantra from those who support public education is always, "If we spend more money on education, it will improve."

That isn't true beyond our current level of funding. My critics often point out that public schools in higher income neighborhoods such as in Bellevue, Issaquah, etc. always have better education outcomes.

They do, but it isn't only the amount of money spent.

The fundamental flaw in public education in my opinion, is the introduction of statism, moral relativism and progressivism.

And public education will not improve under the present leadership in America. It doesn't matter how much money we spend.

Professor Charles Glenn of Boston University is a strong dissenter of centralized government education.

He says, "How can the pluralism that we claim to value, the liberty we prize, be reconciled with a 'state pedagogy' designed to serve state purposes? A general state education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind."


And this is the departure point for many parents. They do not want their children indoctrinated. They want them educated.

Common Core, the Obama administration's new best friend and favorite project, seeps "despotism of the mind."

There are those Americans who themselves are secular progressives and prefer their own children to follow and be educated in their own secular progressive beliefs. However, they too are expressing concern over the quality of education in our public schools.

Diane Ravitch, a secular far left progressive education historian herself, has warned, "We are a nation of guinea pigs."

Statism, moral relativism and progressivism is the common thread of Common Core.

Common Core, which is being advocated and advanced by the Obama administration, defines this thread. The statist goals of Common Core are clear in the lock step uniformity that is central to the program. All children in all states will learn the same content in the same manner so the children can become useful workers.

Traditionally, education was premised on the idea that education of value is designed to know the truth and that can only be known in God. Noah Webster and others who developed our public education system were not timid about this belief. Webster once said he believed the Bible was adequate and could serve as the only classroom textbook.

Common Core omits the pursuit of truth as a core goal because of its alliance with the philosophy that now dominates public education. Relativism says there are no absolutes, therefore there are no absolute values.

Progressivism demands that which is "new" is superior to that which is "old." Consequently in our so-called enlightened stage of evolution, we must abandon all values based on outdated religious beliefs, even though the "new" ideas are unproven and untested in terms of education.

Religion, Christianity in particular, is not only ignored and marginalized, but opposed and labeled as an obstacle to progress. This permeates public education.

Common Core advances and advocates this kind of school house experimentation.

The story of progressivism in education begins with John Dewey. His influence over American educators surged in the 1960's and 70's. Dewey actually advocated "school house experimentation" directing educators to continually reject old methods in favor of "new" ones.

He envisioned a work force filled with people of "politically and socially correct attitudes" who would follow general requests without dissent or question.

Dewey argued for curriculum that would prevent one student from becoming superior to others and to train all students for leadership as well as obedience.

"Work force readiness" is one of the goals of Common Core.

In the late 1900's, Howard Gardner introduced a theory of multiple intelligence's. He embedded this theory into relativism and injected it into public education.

Gardner said that children have different cognitive strengths and styles, echoing Dewey, saying that children's differing experiences eliminate objectively right answers. He then argued and convinced public educators that it is "unfair" to expect all children to answer the same question in the same way. He called on educators to reject the tests that measure proficiency according to "logic and mathematics" and substitute "assessments" that reveal the differences between children's intelligences.

If you listen to government's rhetoric on Common Core, you will hear the word "assessment" used repeatedly.

Progressivism and relativism serve as the means of achieving the goal of a citizenry with a statist orientation.

Common Core carries a broader purpose than most parents realize and it coerces uniformity. It is at war with individualism and biblical values. It is at war with parents who believe in traditional biblical values.

This is troubling for any parent. It is particularly troubling for a parent who believes in those traditional, biblical values.

America rose to greatness when education was decentralized and generally integrated absolute biblical truth and values into the classroom. Why won't educational planners consider a return to what works? The very nature of the philosophy itself won't allow it.

There is a bit of good news---just a bit.

As proud parents and grandparents are sharing photos of their kid's first day of school, as the kids go back to the classroom, many states are pushing back---telling the Obama administration that its federal education plan isn't right for them.

The most sure and true place to educate your child is in the home. I've said it before---it bears repeating:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Deut. 6:5).
"And these words which I commanded you today shall be in your heart" ( v.6).

Take inventory of your own personal beliefs.

Then. "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (v.7).

Own your beliefs and communicate them over and over and over so your child will own them as well.

Life's issues can be complex, but at the end of the day, it comes back to faith and freedom and family.

Be Vigilant. Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.