Monday, April 07, 2008

We Are Wasting Precious Time by Akindele Akinyemi

We are wasting time in thinking that Detroit will come back when Detroit Public Schools come back. The window dressing that both Dr. Connie Calloway and the Detroit Public School Board are doing is nothing more than an embarrassment to the taxpayers in the City of Detroit. Our parents deserve better and DPS will not get the job done.

Do you think Jimmy Womack, who is on the school board, is going to do any better by running for State Representative in District 7 in Detroit? A better question is why is he even running?

Detroit Public Schools or any big government ran school should not be involved in educating our children any longer.
Many people, possibly even most people, think or suspect that it's important for the government to control schools for a number of reasons:

  • To make sure equal educational opportunity is available to everyone.

  • To force parents who might otherwise neglect their children's education to send their children to school.

  • To make education affordable for everyone.

  • To ensure the preservation of democracy.
In the case of government schooling, the move toward freedom has already begun and is gaining steam. The parents of over eight million students already send their children to private schools or home school them. Many thousands more spend $25-$80 an hour on tutors to supplement or compensate for their children's public school experience.

But the question still remains, why should the government NOT control education? Here is a handful of good reasons to supplement the ones already listed in our "Short Answer" above (some merely elaborate on the points above). You will probably be able to come up with some more of your own.

  • The government does not have the right to force one group of people's ideology on others.

  • History shows that almost all people with power will abuse that power. Exceptions are few. Our children should not be captives to the police power of the state.

  • Government education undermines the strength of families by implying or even teaching that parents are backward and unenlightened — that teacher knows best, and by monopolizing increasingly larger portions of children's lives.

  • In its effort to create "equality" and because of its unwieldy bureaucratic nature, government schooling reduces most children to a lowest common denominator, denying kids true opportunities to soar.

  • It reinforces all the negatives of human nature — selfishness, cruelty, disrespect, unfeeling competitiveness — by disenfranchising families, by keeping children under a tight regimen of being graded and judged, and by its institutional nature that forces children into self-preservation modes that would not exist in real-life, family and community settings.

  • It teaches children not to trust themselves and to completely trust and be obedient to authorities. Kids are tested, graded, judged, held back, allowed to pass, all based on the decisions of school authorities. Children learn that above all else, they cannot know anything until they are taught or until they are told they are right or wrong.

  • Because schools cannot teach religion or address the big questions of life (meaning, good and evil, etc.), these things are simply left out of the curriculum, leading children to believe they are not important and that parents who say they are are not to be taken seriously.

  • Students are routinely taught or led to believe things that the state wishes them to believe and are not taught other points of view. For instance, students are taught that paying more in taxes is good and that people who object to supporting schools or the needy through taxation are greedy and uncaring, contrary to the teachings of our country's founders. They are taught that it is important for people to trust the government, and while the government should certainly work for that trust, that doesn't relieve people of the duty to trust, even when the government falls short.

  • Students are NOT taught what may be the most important lesson the founding fathers tried to impress upon posterity: no one, no one with the police power of the state to back them up can be trusted. Government may be a necessary evil, but no government is to be trusted. Government must be watched and kept under control at all times, with "eternal vigilance." Power corrupts. Authority will be abused. As if to make their point, some of the founders went on to abuse their own authority.

  • Schools backed by the power of the state have no need to answer to parents, nor do they have any intention of doing so. They may make small (and usually temporary) concessions to community mores, but they know that in the end, they can do as they wish, regardless of the desires of parents or community.

  • Government run schools become tools for special interest groups who wish to target children with their message. Parents would be shocked to know that schools allow many special interest groups access to their children in a variety of ways, ranging from allowing psychologists to conduct studies on kids to allowing groups to do special programs in schools to allowing teachers to use materials from these groups in the classroom. Parents have virtually no say in these matters.

  • Schools make superficial changes from time to time — more tests, different curricula, a new grading system, but nothing changes about the most important aspects of government schooling: it is coercive; it serves the ends of the government and those who find ways to use the government; it undermines the family and morality and liberty; it robs the vulnerable young of their independence of spirit and thought, replacing it with trust in government and fear of retribution for disobeying that government.

There is one more reason that needs to be explored the famous (or infamous) problem of government endorsement of a religion.

What about these things to consider:

  • Government schools cannot present lessons within the context of any religion's worldview, because they would certainly violate the principle that the state has no right to endorse one religion over another.

  • Teaching "just the facts" about religion in history is impossible. Everyone interprets even the facts differently. For instance, people might quote Thomas Jefferson's endorsements of religion in the public sphere, but Jefferson was a deist. Did he speak from that context? How did he see religion as part of public life?

  • To teach just the facts means to remove anything open to controversy, which can't be done outside dates, times, places, and facts that are meaningless without deeper discussion.

  • For Christians, Jews, Muslims and many other people of faith, a view of the world that does not take into account the dictates of their religion is a skewed view. How might the Crusades be meaningfully studied without understanding the entire history and meaning of Christianity, Catholicism, Islam? How might the Holocaust or the establishment of the state of Israel be meaningfully studied without understanding Judaism?

  • To be sure, history can be studied without meaning — dates, times, places, names of people and events. But there is no purpose in knowing facts without understanding why. To try to explain why without exploring the beliefs people base their lives on is not only a futile exercise, but it actually creates a sort of new religion — a sterile religion of the state, void of insight, void of meaning, designed to replace all competing worldviews.
Religious students spend most of their weekdays, nine or ten months out of the year, seeing their beliefs marginalized or dismissed altogether. Non-religious students may avoid this pitfall, but they are encouraged to consider religion a trivial pursuit, rather than to engage in serious and respectful discussion about the one thing that has affected human history more than any other factor.

The only solution for parents who wish their children to grow up with a strong worldview that reflects their beliefs is to choose a form of schooling that is compatible with their faith. It is in private schools and home schools that all faiths can be discussed openly and freely, that the impact of religion on history and the meaning of life can be freely learned and debated.

Therefore, is it really true that we can reform a system such as the Detroit Public Schools? No.

For 160 years now, school officials, politicians, activists, even parents have been tinkering with the public school system in an effort to reform it into something more in line with their ideas and ideologies. Of course, each person has a different idea of what he wants. The people with the most political clout get to have their reform ideas tried out.

We've tried small schools, big schools, new textbooks, computers, uniforms, special programs, more pre-school, bribing students to learn, threatening students if they won't learn, paying students to tell on one another, drug awareness programs, teen pregnancy programs, family living classes, ever increasing funding, open classes, vo-tech schools, charter schools, zero-tolerance, high-stakes testing, additional education requirements for teachers, new schools, community service requirements, exit exams, business partnerships, and the list could go on and on and on.

Each new idea is promoted and ballyhooed, then quietly left by the wayside for some new and better reform — one that will really work this time. Like so many devotees to socialism, we think that if we just tweak it enough it will work. No amount of evidence to the contrary seems to dampen the spirits of reformers.

Detroit Public Schools is sick at its core. Its foundation is corrupt — the idea that DPS should control what, when and how its citizens learn, that it should have the power to force its agenda on the people it is supposed to serve, that as long as it says it's doing it for our own good, we must submit, is 100% contrary to the principles of liberty, justice and equality.

People left the Old World for the New because they could not tolerate a government telling them what they were permitted to believe. People, even children, are no more tolerant of a government dictating what they should learn and think, how they should view the world, how much time they should spend on each "subject," their every move and action. When a system endeavors to control people in such a manner, it can expect, like the old Soviet communist system, to meet with lethargy and resistance.

It is freedom that prompts people to soar, to learn, to invent, and create. Government compulsion promotes passive resistance, passive only until people realize their power and act on it. Children are most vulnerable. Their power lies in the hands of their parents. It is when their parents embrace their own authority and independence that the children will find hope.

But those freedoms here in Michigan are being threatened by people like State Rep. Brenda (Crack) Clack out of Flint who is proposing damaging legislation like the one below:

2008 House Bill 5912 (Mandate homeschool parents register family’s name with public school authorities )

Introduced by Rep. Brenda Clack on March 19, 2008, to require the parents of children who are homeschooled to submit the local school intermediate school district at the beginning of each year the name and age of each child who is being educated in the home, and the name and address of each parent or legal guardian.

Only a woman on drugs would come up with an asinine bill like this.

Consider this:

  • 6.3 million students (11.4% of all school-age children) attend 27,000 private schools across the country.

  • Another 1.5 to 2 million children are home schooled.

  • Tens of thousands of parents pay hundreds of learning centers and thousands of tutors $25-$80 an hour to supplement or compensate for their children's public school experience.

  • Home school parents run thousands of co-ops and classes for their children. They also operate organizations that sponsor field trips, sports teams, curriculum fairs, conferences and more.

  • Jewish parents send their kids for special religious training after school hours. Chinese parents send their kids for native language training on weekends. African American parents send their kids to cultural classes and activities.

  • Parents run neighborhood tutoring services.

  • Special schools allow students to learn completely through on-line courses.

  • Full educational resources are available via correspondence, video, and the Internet. They cover kindergarten through college.

  • Many colleges offer joint-enrollment for high schoolers (and many home schoolers take advantage of it).

  • The educational options available to young people and their families today is mind-boggling and they increase each year.

The key to a real revolution in education is independence.

Parents must want independence from the state. They must want to take back their children, even if it means more effort and more responsibility. Even if it means spending their own money to educate them.

1 comment:

maidintheus said...

Isn't it obvious that many of those who are in positions to govern are drunk with their own power. Through the educational system, they have corrupted the minds of the citizenry. Now they are in a position to do whatever they desire, in the name of various causes, and "we the people" are too numb and ignorant to see this clearly. If, in a truly unbiased fashion, people studied these things out they would be moved in the right direction. It amazes me that people who are able to pull their own socks on in the morning continue to defend things that are not working, have never worked, and the rotten results are all around them for everyone to see.
One example is the public school/religion issue. It seems some are ignorant or unwilling to see that religion is taught in public schools, it is just selective. Religion of different cultures is taught in our public schools all the time, whether implicit or explicit. Definition of religion: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. The precedent to base policy on a "letter" and interpretation instead of the Constitution, in 1947, goes unnoticed, yet various religions are still taught in public schools. Even a cursory review of the ALA recommended reading would provide examples. Regardless of which side of the issue, this is selective and biased. Perhaps a removal of all things "religious" might be a step in the right direction. With reading, writing and math skills missing in epidemic proportions so is teaching of rudimentary academics. If we can't agree to teach our children to read, write, and compute better, then it's apparent that the real interest is not in these objectives but an interest elsewhere.