Tag Archives: Public education

Education- The Most Expensive, Least Valued Thing Govenment Can Mess Up

That which is given without being earned is not appreciated. And that which the government gives away is first stolen from others who earned.

A free education is perhaps the least valued of all things granted by the government. After decades of government-run K-12 education, the workforce development folks are looking to government-run community college and eventually universal college education to prepare students for real work.

How can government-run education be any better? Let government run the entire education system?

Here are some experiences I have had lately with the homework the government has prescribed to my 5th grader.

In Social Studies, as per the curriculum for 5th graders in Tennessee, he has been learning about the Civil War and significant figures of the war. No timeline of events or battles. Just that it happened, some people were involved with it, and it led to the abolition of slavery. I would expect history would include the history of something like the American Civil War. But there is only this humanistic, interpretive standpoint being presented, in a way that boils everything down to the simplest possible terms. He is being taught what everyone who has heard about the Civil War says today. And that is the educational system’s goal- plant these seeds that will stick with students for a lifetime, a superficial, simplistic version of very complex times, issues, and individuals.

In Reading (ELA, or English Language Arts), they have been reading the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, a United Nations document adopted in 1948, that is a humanistic document based on relative truth, not absolute truth. It says, as many in the media today have tried to say, that our rights are granted by government. Because this is a document about human rights, then the impression to be gained is that government is the arbiter of what is good. Government did not teach, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” nor did it teach, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” No, the God that first taught, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength,” is the one who taught us how to treat other people. This is the very thing I feared when I first read about the change our incoming superintendent of schools was making to the reading comprehension curriculum, and a teacher linked to the “EngageNY,” New York’s program for ELA, as an example. When I asked that teacher via a public comment on her Facebook post, if the reading requirements would be the same as New York’s, my question and the link to EngageNY were deleted.

In math, my son has been working problems involving decimals in multiple forms, one of which is called extended form. Here is an example: 6,500.6=6(10^100)+5(10^10)+6(1/10). For those who haven’t seen exponents notated this way, that is 10 to the 100th power, and 10 to the 10th power, respectively. He’s great at math, by the way. However, at my suggestion, my son asked his math teacher respectfully, “When will we ever use expanded for in real life?” She responded, “When you count money.” My son may have oversimplified her answer, but truly, if this is how money counting is being taught, it is no wonder most people require a machine to tell them correct change owed.

The Chamber of Commerce, one of the very institutions lamenting that lack of a ready workforce to attract new industry, supports Common Core curriculum. The education system is bent on testing and teaching to the test. A 4-year college degree is still the ticket to success as reported in government schools, and the State now pays for 2-year degrees as a way to propel any and all students toward a Bachelor’s degree. Tennessee wants to get to 55% of all Tennesseans having a 4-year degree.

But you can’t have it both ways. You can have government-indoctrinated, social justice-styled drones, or you can have well-educated, well-informed, and skillful graduates that are ready to take on a variety of expanded educational opportunities. As long as politicians and cronies present government as the solution, and as long as the average American believes them, we will continue this spiral. And we haven’t even gotten onto the subject of corporate welfare…

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Jackson City Council’s Action on Education is an Affront to Good Government

I spoke to many people after the City of Jackson voted to pull their portion of the special option sales tax from funding education. There are a lot of opinions, but most fall, correctly, on the side of our students. The City should not have taken the money especially in the sudden, under-handed manner in which they did. The toxic political rhetoric was fluent-

“We’ve paid more than our fair share.”
“It’s the County’s responsibility to fund education.”
“The County has had $12 million to play with all this time, now they have to put that money in the schools.”
“We just want what’s fair and equitable.”
“We have to fund infrastructure to keep people driving in to shop and use our healthcare facilities.”

The bottom line is there is more massive government spending on the way, there’s debt to be serviced, and this is how the City wants to do it.

Here are some things to consider:

Elections have consequences. The people that have been voted in cycle after cycle have become emboldened by what they see as public approval for their job performance. All of these councilmen, commissioners, and school board members (with a few exceptions on the commission and school board) have track records which have put our city and county in the spot in which we find ourselves. The vote to consolidate schools under a certain funding mechanism (a sales tax increase) set us up for this political relationship and all that comes along with it. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice…

Closely following that point is that the City is dividing the tax dollars into “ours and theirs.” Bottom line- it’s the peoples’ money. They tried to divide it into city resident vs. county resident. Hey, I pay sales tax in Jackson on a daily basis. A lot of folks (about half of the population in the city during the business day I’ve been told) pay those taxes. The greater West TN area and many from across the nation contribute to our school system. Isn’t divisive politics a hallmark of liberal progressivism? It’s here in Jackson, folks.

The state mandate for “maintenance of effort,” which means the local funding for education must stay at least at the current level for operation needs, has a) tied the hands of the County in deciding how to allocate funds for education; b) made them much more reluctant to increase the budget; c) emboldened the City to pull their “donation” to the school system knowing the County has to make up for it. Federal and State mandates tie our hands so badly at the local level and create the problems we face like this one. If it were not for federal mandates, interpreted by federal bureaucrats, we wouldn’t be talking about the reportedly urgent need to build a new jail. It’s time someone stood up against costly big government mandates (see my first point).

Lastly, this is what you get from government education. It’s what you get when you rely on politicians to mean what they say when they promise to create high-quality schools, to follow through on their belief that “the children are our future.” What the government gives, it can take away, or regulate into something unrecognizable and ineffective. We have to stop referring to public education as an education. Children, and adults, are constantly learning. A classroom isn’t required for that. What we’re learning now is that all the promises are for political points.

Let me ask this pertinent question in conclusion- with whom is the City Council earning political points after their decision to remove their benevolent gesture to the school system?

Big Education has failed.

Big Education is not working. The term “education” has been successfully distorted beyond recognition. I’m not pretending that the high school graduation requirements are what they should be, but I’m certain that government cannot set the bar low enough to eliminate cheating. They are meaningless, and our society of relevance has eliminated any need to adhere to any acceptable standard. I’m certain that individual educators or administrators, applying their hard-learned “critical thinking” skills that are so valued in our liberal educational system today, decided that some students should not be held to a standard, or otherwise were incapable of attaining to it. Well, students learn more from actions than words. All the positive affirmations pasted across the walls of public school classrooms can’t make up for the message that achievement is meaningless.

Multiple stories (though not as many as one would think) have been written about how 1/3 of Tennessee high school graduates did not complete the required number or type of credits required to earn a diploma (here’s one). Twenty eight percent of Tennessee high schools had at least half of their graduates failing to meet the legal standard set for graduation. How is this instructive?

  • Education is no longer about mastery, or even completion. It is about passing through students for the sake of numbers. It is about not putting on the appearance of oppressing anyone who is not ready to move forward. Your children and mine are hindered in the process.
  • It is time to stop believing the lie that government can solve anything. Tennessee wasted millions on concocting an online standardized test that didn’t work. This was happening even as students were graduating without meeting the basic graduation requirements. Our own school system in Jackson-Madison Co. had to face the current superintendent about how students were passing through “credit recovery,” an online, self-paced, supposedly supervised process for those who have fallen behind, so quickly. It’s all a huge farce.
  • For those of you who have hope that education can be innovated in the public school system, don’t hold your breath. The only innovation that seems to be happening is about how can standards and requirements be manipulated to achieve the desired results. Again, in Jackson-Madison Co., school closures and consolidations have eliminated failing schools much faster than educational interventions or staffing changes ever could.

The workforce development woes that are daily used to justify more government spending and intervention will never be solved because those challenges are dwarfed by an integrity problem that exists within the very apparatus meant to solve them. I call it the “industrial-educational complex,” i.e. Big Education. Government started it, grew it, and seeks to reform it. Informed citizens are the only antidote. Public education cannot heal itself.

In the Uncertainty of the Education System, God’s Word is Sure

Common Core hasn’t gone away. I hoped it would have over the summer, but no such luck.

Second grade has begun for my oldest, and a lot of things are going right. His teacher was highly recommended by the school administration (we were sure to ask this year. Leaving the teacher up to chance was a mistake in first grade). My son seems to be adjusting to being back in the classroom after a not-long-enough summer break. But the Common Core math is kicking in and so I know we are in for a long year.
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I wrote at the end of last school year that I am determined to have my son’s education well in hand this year in order to defeat the messages I fear our government hopes to spread through this confusing and relativistic education system. I have begun having my son read the Bible to me (almost) nightly. Learning about creation from Genesis teaches something schools cannot impart, not only because creationism doesn’t support the narrative that is out there these days, but also because science can explain origins. Faith can.

Reading the Proverbs has begun imparting lessons that, unfortunately, elementary school-aged children need to learn at a younger and younger age. Morality, following the rule of law and the guidance of a father, abandoning the low road of depravity, and holding on to faithful relationships- these cannot be put off until teen years or young adulthood.

My son has the greatest role models of all time, because the giants of the faith put flesh and bones on the timeless truths he needs to guide him through his lifetime.

“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” (Proverbs 30:5 NLT)

Aside from the valuable lessons held in the scriptures, nothing is more beautiful and challenging to read than the word of God. We have truly lost something of value when our children do not learn to read great works that present valuable truth. Education once established a mooring of God’s truth, but now, acknowledging any truth other than whatever the individual believes is truth (relativism) is branded as intolerant. Such “intolerance” seems to be the only sin society recognizes, and it is punished with severity through systems like our education system.

Is Common Core subtly teaching that any way is right? Maybe. When the route to the solution matters more than the solution, I’d say the system is beginning to mirror the ethics and values of society. I definitely have seen the shift in my lifetime from educating based on sound truth and principle, to educating for knowledge and proficiency, to educating now for the sake of creating openness and tolerance. But “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” (Proverbs 30:5 NLT)

Three Ways Public Education Fails To Produce Adults Who Can Change The World

Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. Northwest Ordinance of 1787

The Northwest Ordinance established townships in unsettled territories west of the Appalachians that had been ceded to the new federal government by the states. The townships were 6 square miles and were divided into 36 sections of 640 acres each. A full section in each of these townships was to be dedicated to public education, the importance of which was established in the quote above. The Northwest Ordinance also forbid slavery in any of these settlements, held that there would be no establishment of religion (people could worship freely without fear of persecution), and allowed new states to be admitted, not as colonies, but on equal footing with any other previously established state. There is no expression of equality as powerful as this on a national scale anywhere in existence prior to this.

I don’t think we could begin to imagine a nation as free as we have coming about as a result of the moral relativism that is so accepted today. Banning slavery, establishing equal treatment, defeating tyranny- the impetus to achieve any of this can’t be found except in the morality of the Bible. The very reason those who declare morality to be relative and every mode of belief to be equally valid have the freedom to do so is because of those who stood strong based on biblical morality. The belief that all men are created equal comes directly from the acknowledgement that there is a Creator that has made us so. Naturalism, evolution, atheism does not promote equality- they promote the idea that some are stronger or more worthy than others. But it seems that education is more and more sanitized of any promotion of morals. So we stand in danger of having generations that cannot continue what our founders started or attain achievements that previous generations did.

Here are three ways public education is failing to produce adults who can change the world:

Education is not about moral development anymore. Every way is right in each person’s eyes. We’ve failed to acknowledge that the basis of our laws and the impetus to do great things on behalf of mankind come from biblical morality. All have benefitted from this, but few today are willing to acknowledge it. Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the House of Representatives (1847-1849) stated, “All societies of men must be governed in some way. The less they have of stringent state government, the more they must have of individual self-government… Men, in a word, must be governed by a power within them or a power without them, either by the Word of God or the strong arm of man, either by the Bible or by the bayonet.” Biblical morality is the boundary that promotes self-government and allows free institutions to succeed.

Education is all about personal achievement and not the good of society. One of the justifications of Common Core that I have heard first-hand is that the US falls far behind other nations in academic proficiency. But the US has never fallen behind in achievement in any area of societal importance and is unequalled in her contribution to the good of mankind around the world. We are steadily giving all of that up in order to compete on the same (lower) playing field as other nations who have had much less of an impact on the good of society. Furthermore, the best way to strengthen student performance is to promote principles that are good for society, most prominently strong, stable families and orderly communities, both of which have been byproducts of strong biblical morality and the influence of Christianity.

Education suppresses freedom of expression and religion. The new tolerance (tolerance for me, not for thee) screams down expression of faith under the pretense of protecting rights, and this is prominent in education. In writing about the Engel v. Vitale Supreme Court decision in 1962, which effectively banned public prayer in schools, this article writes, “After all, schools serve as a special case when it comes to the separation of church and state. While the Supreme Court allowed prayer in other public settings to stand, school prayer was banished. Since children are impressionable and teachers are authority figures, religion in educational settings was treated as an issue to be examined quite fervently.” Oppression of the Christian religion in Europe is what led our founders to not establish a state religion, and instead protect freedom of religious expression. We have now come full circle, and Christianity is being suppressed in our schools under the very principle that allows its critics to believe any way they want. Freedom of religion is a basis of American greatness that is being destroyed today.

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep. (Psalm 127:3-5 MSG)

Our children have to be prepared to combat the enemy as so many past generations have been. Getting an education has to be about more than test scores or learning skills so they can have a good job. It has to be about preparing citizens to live and govern well and build on the achievements of our forefathers. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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*Quote from Robert Winthrop is from “In God We Trust” by Dr. Richard G. Lee, published by Thomas Nelson. Information on the Northwest Ordinance is from “America, The Last Best Hope Volume I” by William J. Bennett, published by Nelson Current.