More Problems With Public Schools
Just as this story breaks, showing once again that public education is concerned less with diversity and more with pushing an agenda, the former Southern Baptist dissenters, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, along with other moderate to liberal Baptist groups have been asked by the Baptist Center for Ethics, who apparently operates the online "news" magazine, Ethics Daily, to sign a statement affirming the public schools. The document begins by saying, "The time has come for Baptists to speak positively about public education and to take proactive initiatives that advance a constructive future for America's public school system." The author of the document (available here), Robert Parham, later gives the following challenge:
Now, as someone who is currently working in the public school system, and sees it at its worst one day, and its best the next, I look at this list of pledges and laugh. Nothing here, save the calling for prayer, offers any solutions to the prevaling problems in the public schools. Liberals for years have challenged discipline in the public schools and now there is none. These people don't seem to have a clue as to what is happening in the public schools. There is no mention of academic problems, though a number of public schools' students (and in my experience the vast majority) today suffer from a lack of education under an environment that is completely unconducive to learning. Yet these Baptists seem to be unconcerned with those facts.
We call on Baptists to recommit themselves to the nation's founding principle of "E Pluribus Unum." A society based on unity out of diversity will embrace every child and recognize the vital role public schools play in achieving national unity.
We, the undersigned, pledge therefore to
- pray for public schools;
- show our support for public schools through worship services that affirm all
- advocate for a high wall of separation between church and state that is critical to good public education;
- pursue a just society that benefits every child;
- speak up for the role public education plays in democracy, especially the unity it creates in the midst of diversity so necessary in our society;
- challenge religious voices who demonize public education; and
- share this letter with others
Dr. Bruce Prescott, a signer and advocate of the public schools in their current state, has made it clear in his blog that his worry is not over the problems in the public schools, but rather ovver those that do not desire to train their children in environments that teach things that are contradictory to the Christian faith and over those that advocate homeschooling and Christian education (he mentions in quite a few blog posts that these people don't educate their children, but rather indoctrinate them). Numerous times he has commented on this or has pointed his readers to others with whom he agrees. You can find examples of this here (where he seems worried more about government money than test results that show school children are not performing well -- see "Jeff the Baptist's" helpful comments), here (where he quotes Ed Hogan's extremely biased article on homeschooling and then charges Christians again with wanting more government money), here (where he uses his opposition to a new grand vision of education by Ed Gamble -- which doesn't involve government money in any way -- to again attack Southern Baptists on many fronts), here (where he takes issue with John Stossel's report on the failings of the public schools, despite the fact that conventional wisdom and many of my fellow teacher's experiences is on Stossel's side on this one), and here (where Prescott attacks everyone who supports alternatives to public education, charging them with everything from implicit racism to indoctrination to a hatred of democracy).
The reason why I bring up Bruce Prescott (again!) is because he (and those he is associated with) seems hell-bent on pushing an agenda for support of the public schools with, like almost all moderates and liberals, a complete ignorance of the actual problems of the school systems and absolutely no solutions to those problems. It is akin to the whole coming failure of the Social Security system. Liberals continue to deny the problems, offering no solutions, content to shoot down the suggestions of other, all the while the system grows closer and closer to complete self-destruction.
I, for one, am sick of all the rhetoric and blindness pushed by the moderate and liberal Baptists. When are these guys going to wake up, look behind them, and see that they have done little more than oppose what everyone else was busy accomplishing for the Kingdom of God? The public schools are in bad shape -- period. And while I oppose a complete exodus from all public schools, I think it's time to take a good, hard look at where they are headed and start discussing a contingency plan when they completely bottom-out. I have some ideas about this, and I hope to share some with you in the coming days. Stay tuned...
And if, in the meantime, you need any more proof about the failure of the public schools, read Joel Belz's article in World Magazine entitled simply, "F". He has some insightful things to say regarding the recent Time Magazine article on the public schools (HT: Brent Thomas of Colossians Three Sixteen).