1992 Elections: A Golden Opportunity
Many pro-family organizations are taking time in their newsletters to point out to constituents that 1992 offers an unusual opportunity to change the balance toward conservatism throughout the governments in our land. It is highly possible that 100 or more members of the House and Senate will leave office this year. Larry Burkett’s newsletter called for Americans everywhere to “install some men and women of vision and integrity, especially in the area of finances. Take the time to check out the candidates in your area. Quiz them thoroughly about where they stand on balancing the budget. This may well be the last chance we have to salvage our economy, not to mention the economic future of our children.” (May 15, 1992)
Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, encouraged pro-family group leaders to remind their people to remember how the system works. Simple voter savvy includes such realities as the fact that the majority party in both House and Senate controls the agenda. Through the assignment of majority and minority roles all committee chairmen are appointed, and committee chairmen decide which bills make it to the hearing schedule, thus determining to a great degree what eventually comes to the floor.
Many American citizens don’t take time to remember that the person who lives in the White House has a vast range of influence for appointments throughout cabinet level agencies in our nation's capital. Consider for a moment that approximately 4,500 people work in the Department of Education building alone. The bulk of those leadership appointments can be conservative or liberal, depending on the affiliation and preferences of the person occupying the Oval Office.
It’s much bigger than we think, and the stakes are much higher than we can even imagine. Prepare to take an active role in selecting who governs you. Then pray that God will give us the kind of government officials who are better than what we deserve. It is often said that ninety percent of the population has no idea of what is going on; ten percent know, but only two percent get involved. If those estimates are anywhere near the truth and we show a near one hundred percent of people with convictions and insight getting involved, we could make a big difference!
Watch Out for State Outcome-Based Educational Programs
For years a legitimate criticism has been levied against high schools across the United States about the fact that a student’s transcript only indicates that he “did time” in the system to achieve the specified credits. To be sure, grades are added to those credits to rate the quality of attentiveness exhibited during that time; however, all of us know that a credit in chemistry or geometry may or may not mean that a student knows that content and can interact with it in a productive manner.
In home education we have the privilege and responsibility of ensuring that our children do know the content and can be productive with it before moving on to other areas. We also have the opportunity to make crucial applications to “the real world” with the material proposed for mastery. Many people throughout society have been calling for this level of quality education to be exhibited in the schools, particularly as SAT scores continue to plummet and employers complain that students do not have the skills needed to be successful in the working world.
Thus, Pennsylvania is on the forefront of implementing an outcome-based educational design for its public school students, with Minnesota and New York not far behind. Several other states, such as California and Texas, have begun discussion and are planning panels along similar lines. Education Week (March 11, 1992) explains how the program is supposed to work: “The board would establish a set of skills and knowledge all students should attain, as well as assessments to measure student performance. Districts would then develop strategic plans-which would have to be approved by the state board-outlining how they propose to enable students to acquire the learning outcomes. Students could then receive a diploma by demonstrating mastery on the outcomes, regardless of how many courses they took.”
Robert E. Feir, the executive director of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, said, “the proposal is aimed at shifting the state’s focus from regulating the process of education to setting goals for the outcomes of schooling.” The goals are in the areas of communications, mathematics, science and technology, environment and ecology, citizenship, appreciating and understanding others, arts and humanities, career education and work, wellness and fitness, and personal, family, and community living.
Sound good? Wait a minute-take a second look! Many of the areas listed are not cognitive content. What is actually proposed here is a mixture of cognitive (knowledge) objectives with affective (attitudinal, emotional, convictional) goals. How can the secular state, mandated by law to avoid any vestige of religious values (to maintain separation of church and state, of course), develop a list of attitudinal goals which all students must demonstrate before they are allowed to graduate?
Peg Luksik, representing a strong parent coalition that opposes the shift to outcome-based education, states, “the proposed set of outcomes deals with students’ attitudes and values, not their cognitive abilities. It is not the business of the states to be assessing and remediating the values and attitudes of students. It is the business of the state to fill children's heads with the cognitive knowledge they need.”
It is simplistic to assume that because we home educate these trends can be avoided in our programs. As regulations are drafted earmarking what all students should know and be able to do, there will be attempts to design procedures for us to demonstrate that our children have met the goals. And we may be sure that the strong emphasis on cultural diversity and political correctness in our current society will not lead to goals we would espouse!
Conflict of Interest Noted in PAT Legislation
Potential abuses in the implementation of Parents as Teachers (PAT) programs recently have been the subject of several reports by the National Center for Home Education. The latest development in the ongoing saga to get the federal government involved in teaching moms and dads how to parent their children uncovers a serious conflict of interest in the legislative process.
Senator Christopher Bond [R-MO], sponsor of S.551 (now absorbed in the OERI reauthorization bill, S.1275), is actually a member of the Board of Directors for Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc. State of Missouri Certificate of Incorporation (document no. N00042958 lists the senator along with Governor John D. Ashcroft (State of Missouri), Congressman Richard A. Gephardt, and 19 corporate and education leaders. In spite of the fact that the language of this corporate charter forbids the organization from “attempting to influence legislation,” Congress is dealing with legislative packages H.R.520 and the PAT section of S.1275, offering to raise millions of federal taxpayer dollars to help enact PAT programs in other states.
Are Your History Books Politically Correct?
As if the flurry last winter about the more than 200 factual errors uncovered in brand-new high school American history textbooks under consideration by the Texas State Board of Education were not enough, the new wrinkle is even more serious. The Washington Times featured a lengthy “Special Report” on April 26, 1992, describing the current debate in how to teach history.
Reporter Carol Innerst states, “American history has a new and expanded mission—to help students understand cultural diversity. Old-fashioned goals of stirring patriotism and love of country have been swept away over two decades or more as multiculturalism gradually took hold of teachers, textbooks, and curriculums.” Rather than focusing on heroes of the past, current curriculums will look at “ordinary” Americans—of every stripe. A sidebar explains that “Encouraged by the success of women and blacks in recent years, activists in California and Texas are agitating for fairer representation of homosexuals in history books and public school curriculums. Activist and college student Andrew Thompson told the Texas school board that textbooks should list individuals’ sexual orientation when it is relevant to their work.”
The new approach is labeled to be “warts and all.” Charlotte Crabtree, a professor at University of California at Los Angeles and director of the National Center for History in the Schools, explains, “If we are going to tell the story, it’s a story both of high ideals and enormous sacrifices and commitment over 200 years of the nation’s history, but it’s also a story of denial of rights and privileges to significant segments of the population.”
Miss Innerst concludes, “Sadly, the debate has been polarized. On the one side are those holding on to the old synthesis, afraid if it’s lost there will be no coherence. The other side…wants total eradication of the old story and its replacement with a new mythology of the past.”
Nathan Hale is gone, and in his place are records of obscured women and blacks who will provide “balance” in the books. Of course, the books can only be so long; thus, if new people and events are added, others have to be dropped to make room. Wesley Pruden called it “child abuse” in his column “Pruden on Politics”: “The educationists who have become squatters in the public school system naturally endow their sacking of the schools with noble motives. Accuracy is not only inconvenient but gets in the way of feelings. Ain’t it better to make a kid dumb and happy instead of smart and sad?…
“ ‘People get attached to the history they’re taught,’ says Harriet Tyson, who mints a new oxymoron to call herself a ‘textbook scholar.’ ‘I think the old-fashioned kind of patriotism I was brought up on, which was war-oriented is giving way to a newer kind of patriotism which says if you're going to be a citizen of this country, and if this country is going to be successful, we’re going to have to get along with each other in the face of demographic change.’
“The way to do this, naturally, is to cleanse the history of the republic from all traces of its European-e.g., white male-origins…. The sad part is that the revisionists are maiming the children who can least afford to pay for the intellectual japeries of the educationist frauds. Growing numbers of Americans, of all races, consider the public schools dead, and are making other arrangements at great sacrifice to educate their children. The legacy of the frauds will be the class system—an educated class and a dumb class—they say they abhor.”
Suzanne Fields provides a passionate plea for men to rise up and protest (The Washington Times, June 4, 1992): “What else but ‘prejudice’ can explain why girls consistently get higher grades in college? Where is the controversy over a public school textbook that has more index citations for ‘women’ than for World War I and World War II combined? Where is the deep-throated male objection that more high school students know the identity of Harriet Tubman than Winston Churchill?…
“Three leading high-school texts in American history portray women more favorably than men, with proportionately more pictures of women than men, largely in untraditional roles, and describes historical events primarily in terms of the contributions made by women. Students who read nothing but these textbooks … wind up knowing more about minor female characters in the American past than about men who had a significant influence on world and national affairs.”
Calling all this “the idiot culture,” Ms. Fields claims that the educational system, from grade school to our most prestigious universities is permeated, “depriving young minds of the training to enable them to form critical insights.”
Learning Disabilities—Why Are the Numbers Up?
The March 1992 Education Reporter indicates that “The number of people diagnosed as ‘learning disabled’ in our nation is skyrocketing.” Citing statistics offered by Ray Healey, Assistant Superintendent of the Special School District in St. Louis County, Missouri, the article states that in one district alone the number of people diagnosed as “learning disabled” rose 559 percent. The Special School District today reports 11,241 students with disabilities of the 18,640 total students in the district—almost two thirds of the school population!
“According to Superintendent Healey, learning disabilities is a common term that includes a variety of problems, but it almost always involves a problem with psychological processes that involve the use and understanding of language. Alcohol or drug abusing parents along with the pressures children face in modern society are included in the reasons officials at the Special School District give for the radically increasing numbers. The main reason they give, however, is that more people are being tested for learning disabilities.”
A St. Louis resident complains, “There’s a premium for finding learning disabled these days. The incentive is money and to make a perfect society.”
The Education Reporter article reminds us, “The goal of becoming a perfect society is reflected in ‘check lists’ that are included in many early education programs such as ‘Parents as Teachers’ program. This program includes 12 ‘at risk’ conditions which ‘any normal family might fall into on a bad day,’ the St. Louis county resident said.
“Some parents think that often children labeled as ‘learning disabled’ are really quite normal, but once they have that label attached to them, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, children live up to the expectations set for them. If they are told they are ‘learning disabled,’ they’ll perform that way.”
In the May 1992 Blumenfeld Education Letter, Samuel Blumenfeld claims, “Widespread illiteracy among Americans is now being accepted not only by the educators who gain economic benefits through the growth of Special Ed programs, but also by our business leaders who are being persuaded by our educators that a low level of literacy is about all that we can hope for and that ‘oral communication’ will flower as a result…. The tragedy is that the parents have let the ‘leaders’ make the educational decisions for their children which will affect their lives. It is only when parents assume the responsibility for their children’s education, such as in the homeschool movement, that we can find out what parents really want. I have yet to meet a parent who prefers a ‘flowering of oral communication' in place of true literacy in the traditional sense.”
Mr. Blumenfeld relates the current social emphasis on dyslexia and educational curriculums fostering verbal illiteracy to the crisis in the inner cities, “The reason why so many blacks in the inner cities are so frustrated and angry is because their schools have permanently crippled them intellectually, relegating them to lives of poverty.”
Salvation Army Solidifies Prohibition Against Home Schooling
Effective fall 1992, Salvation Army officers will be barred from home schooling their children. The national policy statement of this organization indicates that “the time required by officers to teach their children at home has a negative impact on the officers’ service.” Therefore, “The Salvation Army will not approve home schooling by officers, except in special circumstances…” The rationale statement given to support the policy claims that “officership in The Salvation Army results from a response to a spiritual calling to devote the whole of a person’s time and energies to the service of God. While the Salvation Army recognizes the responsibility of officer-parents to nurture and guide their children, it also recognizes the demands and responsibilities of officership. The Commissioners’ Conference agrees that the time required by officers to teach their children at home has a negative impact on the officers’ service….”
We are saddened by the terrible contradiction communicated by a ministry that places “God’s work” ahead of family priorities. It is our understanding from Scripture that a man’s credential for ministry is the conscientious training of his family.