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Goals and Objectives | Christian Education | Resources for teaching| WV News | Articles

Clear Thinking

Snips follow from articles exhibiting logical reasoning.


Public schools are based on four false premises: 1. Welfare works, 2. Socialism works, 3. Parents have insufficient wisdom, and 4. We can teach character without mentioning God. We need to replace those false premises with truisms, and the truisms I suggest are: 1. Responsibility works, 2. Freedom works, 3. Parents have more wisdom than politicians, and 4. To teach character, we must integrate three factors: the reason for morality, examples of morality, and instruction in morality.

Today's schools are trying to teach kids to be good, but if Johnny says, "Why should I be good, Mrs. McLumphy?" she cannot give him a real, significant answer. Everything she says is shallow, because to give a significant answer is to undermine some segment of that classroom. So we are pretending we can teach children how without teaching them why.

By Marshall Fritz


Right now, there are things happening of which nobody is aware that will hugely affect the way Americans teach and learn. The vital role that technology will play in cracking open the nearly $300 billion K-12 education market today is only dimly perceived. The most obvious impact is in the area of home education. Increasingly powerful and affordable learning tools give parents the confidence to try their own hand as educators of their own children.

Columnist Cal Thomas notes that this kind of technology has enormous potential to help liberate both middle-class and poor families "from their bondage to government schools." For children whose homes cannot afford satellite dishes, their churches and boys' clubs can acquire them for use in small groups.

New technology also brings top-notch instruction and subjects such as foreign languages and advanced math and science within reach of small, fledgling, or struggling private schools. And fledgling schools are what we must see much more of — especially from religious conservatives, whose disgust and frustration with arrogant government educrats has already brought them to the brink of mass exodus.

Rather than being satisfied with piecemeal progress within the government system, Christians can build more of their own fully successful schools, and win converts by providing attractive examples of godly education. A clean, cheerful school filled with 200 well-behaved, intelligent children can preserve, enhance, and enlighten the whole community. More salt and light, perhaps, than scattering those 200 children across the rocky ground and shallow soil of government schools.

When all else fails, government school apologists point to the inability and unwillingness of "poor people," especially those in the "inner cities," to see to their children's education. It is an appalling hypocrisy for governmentalists who have used every available means to rip and burn the social fabric of black, urban, and low-income Americans to point to their own handiwork as proof of their indispensability. It is true that family and civic life in cities and among the poor is in tatters. The main cause is the stripping away of family responsibilities from families by government — education chief among them.

Precollege scholarships (a.k.a. privately funded vouchers) can be a big help here. In 1991 J. Patrick Rooney, chairman of the Golden Rule Insurance Co. in Indianapolis, committed $1.2 million of his own money to help low-income families pay for tuition at the school of their choice. Mr. Rooney called the scholarships a "hand up, not a hand out" and backed that up with a requirement that participating families pay half the cost. Five years later, Pat Rooney's tough-love philanthropic vision has spawned a movement that helps some 10,000 low-income children in 25 towns across America. Another half-dozen precollege scholarship programs are in the planning stages, and interest continues to build.

America has a long tradition of providing help for needy families to attend college. We simply need to extend that great tradition to help children earlier, when it costs less and is needed most.

Then there are the entrepreneurs in the traditional sense. In a recent Forbes ASAP article, George Gilder asked Michael Milken what he thought about the potential for opening up the $300 billion K-12 education industry, and Milken instantly corrected Gilder, saying that it is a $2 trillion industry, because it's worldwide.

Wall Street is not nearly so fettered by turfy political ideologies as Washington, and big investors will not fret over the tousled sensibilities of government school union bosses once they are convinced there is real money to be made. When government schools are perceived merely as vehicles for brownie points with liberal journalists, sycophancy is painless and even profitable for corporate America. But as public confidence in government schooling continues its inexorable collapse, and the whiff of billions begins stirring in the air, the savvy investor will focus his attention on the greatest emerging market in decades and treat government schools as just another competitor to blow out of the water.

There are scores of real-life examples of how the government schooling monopoly uses language to its own advantage. For instance, you never hear it refer to itself as a compulsory government-monopoly. More typical is the friendly and familiar invitation to support "our neighborhood public schools." Nongovernment schools must take their pick from parochial (selfish and narrow), private (elitist, exclusive), and independent (individualistic, superior).

Government schools are public the way jails and departments of motor vehicles are public, not the way parks, libraries, or hardware stores are public. Try living in southeast Washington, D.C., and sending your child to the "public" school a few miles away in McLean, Virginia! This one example has the makings of a significant rhetorical (hence, educational) victory for educational freedom. Never say "public," always say "government" — government school, government program, government teacher. It's not an insult; it's merely accurate. If someone finds it offensive, ask him if he's got something against the government doing those things.

As a practical matter, this means the words "improve" and "government schooling" must stop appearing in the same sentence.

Even as we uncover the truth about how successful American education was before the states took it over, we need to paint a vivid and exciting picture of what it will look like when we regain the freedom we once had — a vision of educational opportunity and excellence.

If government had taken over the family's duty to feed their children, and zoned kids into neighborhood feeding stations for all their meals, we wouldn't argue that families had in fact retained the duty to feed their children, by pointing out that they still paid their taxes. By this logic, there are no family rights and responsibilities, and there is nothing the government should not undertake in their behalf.

But just as with the first war for American independence, the struggle to regain the rights and burdens of self-governance will be achieved through sacrifice and strife, not happy talk. We must say: "Yes, American families are weak. Yes, my family is weak, but I won't let it stay that way!"

For millions to exit the system, only thousands have to show them the way

The visible opponents (unions and the politicians they control) are powerful, entrenched, wealthy, experienced, and unscrupulous. Separationists are weak, dispersed, without resources, inexperienced, and generally limited in scope of action by strongly held principles. Our strength is our message, which gets drowned in the welter of political persiflage. In the calm of the written word, the careful debate, we win every time.

Besides, most education-related political action is either useless (and a waste of precious resources) or fraught with danger. Many political efforts that conservatives consider bold are no more than revenue schemes, such as expanding government financing to include nongovernment schools through vouchers or tax credits.

By Douglas Dewey

Also see: Why Christian Education Is Important.