Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

04/11/2008 (11:28 am)

School Shariafication, Opus Two

Michelle Malkin today follows up Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter Katherine Kersten’s story, concerning a publicly-funded charter school in St. Paul that appears to be a Madrassa, with her own broad summary of the increasing presence of Islam in American public schools today. I recommend you read the entire article.

American schools should teach something about Islam simply as a matter of community interest; clearly, Islam is becoming more common here in America, and it can’t be a bad thing for all of us to learn more about what Muslims believe and how they practice. Respectful exposure to cultures is a good thing — so long as it’s even-handed and unbiased, and includes cultures that the multiculturalists’ Diversity Police regard as aberrant, like Evangelical Christianity or the American south.

Beyond that, though, how much should public education permit in the way of sectarian instruction? I’ve always regarded the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 1st Amendment’s ban on “establishment of religion” as badly in error. Schools are not “Congress,” nor are they “an establishment of religion” (that would be a church), and neither teaching the local version of morality nor permitting students to practice their own religion creates an official state religion.

Furthermore, the error actually lies in the state controlling education; state-controlled education is the natural enemy of individual liberty. Education was almost entirely private when the nation was founded, with the public funding education only for the very poorest who could not afford to educate their own children. The elimination of public control of education removes all the problems that our culture experiences over educational content.

However, hostility to the nation is never acceptable as school curriculum. Note, for example, this instance of hostile messages embedded in an assigned word puzzle. Note also this story from Hot Air regarding the publicly-funded charter Madrassa I mentioned on Wednesday, in which it was discovered that the school had never flown the American flag; they claimed incompetence. As soon as attention was paid, they learned how to operate the flag pole. This school is not acceptable. Thankfully, I note that the state is investigating, based on reporter Kersten’s research.

Nor is support from, or for, America’s enemies ever acceptable in schools. I noted Wednesday the association of the St. Paul charter school with the Muslim Brotherhood; this should not be permitted.

Again, I do not object to schools teaching about Islam, nor even to public funding of schools teaching Islam, so long Christians and other religions are treated using the same standard.

12/19/2007 (10:35 am)

Education Is Not Failing

We all know that American students fare poorly when compared against the students in other industrialized nations. It’s common to blame our schools’ poor performance on uninvolved parents, and that certainly is a problem; education can only go so far if the parents don’t care. It’s also common to blame our schools’ poor performance on lousy teachers, and that is possibly a problem; a poor teacher can ruin a child’s education.

But the core problem is neither of these. The core problem is that in the minds of those who control the Education system, the system is not failing at all. It’s succeeding admirably.

The choke-hold of socially progressive educational theory affects every aspect of public education, and, since social progressives educate the teachers and write the textbooks, most private schools as well. And the system is succeeding in producing an American public who agree with social progressivism.

Social progressives took over the education system in America more than a century ago, and they now control teacher training, administrator training, and curriculum development. The rules for each ensure that nobody with a contrary point of view can practice inside the system.

In addition to jamming a completely public education system down the nation’s collective throat (using the same argument socialists are using today to tout nationalized medicine), they also saddled us with teacher certification. A teacher needs to pass only a fairly simple test of subject competence to be certified. Most of the testing and education centers around learning theory, which is psychology and sociology. The concepts required for certification are, naturally, skewed to make prospective teachers regurgitate progressive theories of learning in order to be certified.

School administrators, also, are trained to institute policies that enforce the socially-progressive theories of their instructors. And textbooks are written so that any class based on them will be influenced by the same progressive theories. So, the Progressives have a perfect means to guarantee that their theories of human development are practiced by nearly 100% of teachers and administrators throughout the nation.

Pay attention, class. This is the point.This accounts for the near-universal moral relativism and scientific materialism espoused by graduates of the system (while they’re failing math and English.) The schools are not failing to achieve their goals; they’re achieving the goal of the system’s architects, which is philosophical uniformity. They’re not achieving the parent’s goals; but then, parents don’t control the system, so they don’t get to set the goals.

The nation’s education will not improve until this choke-hold is broken, and that will require two very specific measures:

1) Removal of teacher certification requirements.

2) Placing educational content decisions into the hands of parents.

The latter will be accomplished in one stroke by a properly-configured voucher system that permits private, parochial, and home schools to receive education vouchers. When parents make the educational choices, schools competing for parent-controlled dollars will be forced to provide what the parents want. This, more than any government-written test, will guarantee acceptable performance level and acceptable content. Parents do want results.

But vouchered education will not have its full impact until the former has occurred. Teacher certification must be abolished, or replaced by subject-matter qualification tests.

Half-measures will produce half-solutions. Charter schools are an improvement; so are vouchered public schools. However, a complete overhaul of the system can only be accomplished when the social engineers are cut out of the process, and that means parents must get to choose what is taught, how it’s taught, and by whom.

12/07/2007 (6:14 pm)

Lincoln, Douglas, and YouTube

Paul Greenberg has written a comparison between the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the YouTube travesties we’re seeing this year between the primary candidates. It’s important to read it. The modern debates do not compare favorably. The discussion of Greenberg’s article raises several possible reasons for the difference, but I believe there’s one, outstanding reason that overshadows all of them, and that’s education. The deterioration of the American education system is one of the great, deep shames of our nation, and I intend to write a lot more about it in the days ahead.

If you want to get a measure of how well men were educated back then, go read The Federalist Papers — and then recall that those were written to sway the votes of farmers, and that they worked. Most college graduates today wouldn’t sit still to read one political essay of that depth, let alone 85 of them.

Harry Stein, in his highly entertaining book “How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (and Found Inner Peace)”, published an entrance examination for Jersey City High School from around 1865. Go to a book store, find a copy, and read through the test; it’s not very long. I have a Master’s degree from a major university, and I’ve continued to learn through my adult years, but I’m telling you that I’d have had to study a lot of hours before I could have passed that test. An entrance exam. For high school.

Their education puts ours to shame. And it’s not because of teacher’s salaries, let me tell you. Educational theory was co-opted by social progressives a hundred years ago, and they’ve turned what was arguably the best education system in the history of world into a sorry, unfunny joke.

The debates weren’t better back then because of an elite voter group; they were better because people were far, far better educated, and better citizens, and better human beings. We have much to be ashamed for.

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