Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beyond Wisconsin - The Real Crisis in Education

Now that the standoff between the teacher's union and the governor of Wisconsin has faded from our front pages, it might be time to consider the greater scandal in education - that is the failure of our public educational system to produce well educated adults.

I shouldn't have to prove the statement. Anyone interested can find the statistics easily enough. recently, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a reputable organization of 34 of the world's most advanced countries placed U.S. fifteen year olds in the middle of the thirty-four nations educationally. Education Secretary, Anne Duncan, states that by next year 82% of all public schools could be failing. She writes,
"When a child is meeting the state standards, they are in fact barely able to graduate from high school. And they are absolutely inadequately prepared to go to a competitive university, let alone graduate."
That is the bigger scandal.

What is the problem? We have a multitude of dedicated, hard working teachers. We spend more money for education every year. As we have read, the teachers in Wisconsin are well paid with lots of benefits. All more money will accomplish is more of the same. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Educationally, if we expect different results, we will have to look for different solutions.

Business guru W. Edward Deming stated, "Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you are getting." This is true in every situation. Public education is accomplishing exactly what it is designed to accomplish. Unfortunately, the results for which they are designed aren't the same results most Americans want. This is because, instead of concentrating on teaching the skills needed to thrive in society, our schools are becoming more and more indoctrination centers for tolerance.

Kevin Jennings, our nation's "Safe Schools" Czar, is a good example. He has stated, "every public school, private school, or parochial school has an obligation" to teach a pro-homosexual curriculum. Even if your parochial school believes that homosexuality is a sin condemned by God? "Lord forbid a Baptist or Mormon school," he added, as he denounced private schools and school choice/voucher programs as "very dangerous" because they oppose his agenda. Very dangerous? They are the ones that have produced real educational results, they and home schools. Oh, but that isn't the agenda, indoctrination is. Do we really need pro-homosexual curriculum in, as he has stated, "kindergarten, and first grade, and second grade, every grade," especially when Little Johnny can't read?

These attitudes are not unique to Kevin Jennings. Check out these real headlines from our nation's newspapers over the past several weeks: "U.S. Teachers Tell U.N. Sex is a Spectrum - Advocate Mandatory Classes to Free Students From Religion." Principal Orders (Ten Commandments) Yanked From School Lockers." "University Defines Christians as Oppressors." "District Taking Money But Censoring Christians." "No Opting Out of Pro-Gay School Participation." These are but a sampling. It seems as though tolerance of everything is good except tolerance of traditional or Christian values.

Catherine Ross, a law professor at George Washington University, expressed their opinion well. She wrote,
"I am not primarily concerned here with the quality of academic achievement in the core curriculum areas of homeschoolers, which has been the subject of much heated debate. Instead, my comments focus on civic education in the broadest sense, which I define primarily as exposure to the constitutional norm of tolerance."
She continues,
"In order for the norm of tolerance to survive across generations, society need not and should not tolerate the indoctrination of absolutist views that undermine toleration of difference."
In other words, she doesn't think that homeschooling Christian parents should be allowed to teach their beliefs to their children,no matter how well they are doing academically. Indoctrination of their views is more important than achievement of core curriculum areas.

Parents should teach values to their children, while public schools should concentrate on teaching core curriculum. But as Mike Farris said,
"The 'It takes a village to raise a child' crowd believe that all children are the children of the village."
No! Parents are the ones responsible for their children. Perhaps it is time the schools again get serious about education and worry less about indoctrination. Maybe then they will have time to teach core curriculum, and maybe then we'll regain our place as the top educationally.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three Cheers for the House

In the last blog entry, I asked where the outrage was in Congress over our President's decision to neglect his duty as Chief Executive to enforce and defend the law. I was specifically referring to his announcement that the Attorney General Eric Holder, and the Justice Department, would no longer defend DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act). They also won't prosecute child pornographers or investigate Planned Parenthood among other things.

Well, imagine how pleased I was to read that on March 9th, John Boehner, our Speaker of the House, organized and led a five-member Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) which will hire its own lawyers to fight for DOMA in court. Three cheers for them. The Republicans involved all signed the Pledge to America, and they are sticking to their pledge. They are committed to fight for marriage.

DOMA is now being challenged in the First District Court of Appeals. Pray for the right decision, and pray for these bold, principled congressmen. Let these congressmen know you appreciate their effort.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Defending D.O.M.A.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have announced that they will no longer defend DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) in court. Perhaps they have forgotten what their jobs entail. They represent the Executive Branch of government. This means they are not responsible to make law (the job of the Legislative Branch) nor interpret law (the job of the Judicial Branch), but enforce law. Nowhere do they have the authority to forget about those laws they don't like or don't think appropriate. The President and the Executive Branch is charged with the task of executing the laws passed by congress. Article II of our Constitution requires the President to "preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States." His job is not to re-interpret it.

The Defense of Marriage act was passed by congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The house voted 342-67 to pass and the senate voted 85-14. Clearly, they reflected the mandate of overwhelming public opinion. In every state where homosexual marriage has been on the ballot, it has lost. Once again, he is trying to bypass the will of the people and allow the liberal judges to remake the law and the morality of this country. Clearly, President Obama is out of step with the American people.

But more importantly, President Obama is out of step with God. It was God who instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden by creating one man for one woman and uniting them for life. Throughout the Bible, we see God's anger at the distortion of His plan, and homosexuality is a distortion of God's plan for sexual intimacy and marriage. Homosexuality turns God's plan for the family on its head. It was never meant to be two guys playing house, but it was the institution for the procreation and protection of children so that they could be raised to productive maturity. God designed it best. He knew that not only would it take a male and a female to procreate, but He knew that children need both a mother and a father in the home to provide the best conditions to raise them. Society has always understood this definition of family.

I would urge President Obama and Attorney General Holder to do your job. Defend the law. Live up to your campaign rhetoric when you declared that you believed marriage was between one man and one woman. President Obama, do the right thing, not the politically expedient thing that panders to your base. I would urge our Republican Congress to stop playing the wimps. House Speaker John Boehner stated,
"While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the President will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversy that sharply divides the nation."
Real tough, John. Where is the outrage at this abrogation of duty on the part of the president? Where are the elected leaders who will step up to the plate and defend marriage?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Culture War Won't End

I recently received a picture from a family friend showing her beautiful baby boy. The picture showed a perfect baby with an adorable face. My wife and daughter "cooed" over him. Oh, I forget to tell you, the pictures were by ultrasound, and her baby is still two months from birth. This beautiful little baby could still be killed should his mother "choose" and should a doctor be paid to take his life. Beautiful babies like this are killed everyday in this country up to the moment of birth, most of them for the convenience of the parents. That is why the issue of abortion remains such a volatile and intensely fought battle in our country.

Not long after the Roe v Wade decision was handed down by the Supreme court on January 22, 1973, Carl Sagan, the popular TV astronomer, wrote an article in Parade Magazine, a magazine inserted in most Sunday papers. The headline over the article read, Abortion, Finding the Middle Ground. I read on to see if there could be such a thing. Sagan wrote, "One would have thought that the controversy was over when the Supreme Court took the middle ground." The middle ground? How could Roe v Wade, a decision that virtually allows abortion for any reason up to the moment of birth, be called the middle ground? No, that is the most extreme position, not anywhere near middle ground.

One would have thought the controversy was over when the Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution reiterated the Fifth Amendment and the Declaration of Independence by saying, "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." Our Constitution guaranteed the right to life. Now the right to privacy has trumped that right, and abortion is the law of the land. As a result, 50,000,000 precious babies have been denied the right to live.

For those of us who believe that every life is a gift from God and that we are created in the image of God, this is an atrocity. That we have legalized the killing of our own children, mothers hiring their death in the womb at the hands of those committed to saving lives, is barbaric. Add in the fact that decent human beings should protect innocent life, and it is obvious why we can never give up the pro-life fight.

That's why I find it encouraging that bills have been drafted and sent to the Judiciary Committee in Augusta calling for a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion and to require parental notification before a minor can get an abortion. These are logical first steps, but only first steps, in the effort to overturn Roe v Wade.

Some would argue that Roe v Wade is established law as our local paper has said. As established law, they claim, it has somehow become sacred and untouchable. Unfortunately, that was the same argument that was used to preserve slavery. The Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court was established law, and it allowed property rights of slave owners to trump the right of the slave for freedom. It should have been the moral imperative of every decent citizen to oppose that wrong headed decision. It should be the moral imperative of every decent citizen to fight for the right to life of the unborn children.

When laws are made by man regardless of the transcendent laws of God, those laws are not sacred. They should be changed. As long as wrong laws are in force, people of character like William Wilberforce, who spent a lifetime fighting the slave trade, will be around. As long as abortion continues to take the lives of innocent, unborn babies, there will be people who oppose it.

Should we expect an end to the culture war? No! the war will continue. Those who would destroy the moral culture of this country have been winning battles over the past few decades, but the war of values isn't over. In the same issue of the Bangor Daily News on February 28Th that told of the bills to curtail abortion, you could also read articles on transgender bathroom use in schools and the decision by our President, who is our chief law enforcement officer, who announced he would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Can anyone say that we are better off as a country with these and other of the new social experiments? The culture war must continue because the stakes are simply too high.