We Must Rescue Our Children from State Schools
by Craig S. Smith
Over the years, being the convinced home educator that I am, I tend to hear – and remember – some pretty hard-line comments in regards to public schools. I have even been known to author some myself! When driving through town, if we see a bunch of children in a school playground, I invariably say to whoever is in the car, “Oh, look, they’ve let the prisoners out into the exercise yards!” Dr Raymond Moore is fond of saying, “The sooner you institutionalise your children, the sooner they will institutionalise you!” R.J. Rushdoony once said that a Christian father who sends his children into the secular state school system shows himself to be a fool. Another American, David Sant, is even more scathing: “The time has come for Christians to recognise that sending their children to these humanist institutions is sinful and idolatrous. Churches should discipline members who insist on continuing in this sin. Public schooling is spiritual adultery and is every bit as serious as breaking the marriage vow.” Harsh words indeed.
The New Zealand Council for Educational Research, an organisation apparently established by an act of Parliament to provide scholarly and rigorous academic research into educational issues – a task which supposedly had to be funded by statute, the implication being it couldn’t pay its own way – recently released an interim report on how the implementation of this new NCEA qualification has been progressing among the year-11 guinea pi…, I mean, students in 5th Form. The NZCER themselves, with no help or suggestion from me, titled the report “From Cabbages to Kings”. So now we have distinguished research organisations themselves in effect calling high school students cabbage heads. So now when I’m driving around town and see what I used to call a prison, I am just as inclined to call it a cabbage patch instead.
This is naughty, I know. Some would say it is worse than that. But please bear with me. I have been publishing Keystone journal since 1995: this is the 42nd issue so far. TEACH Bulletin has been going since 1997: I’ve cranked out 65 issues to date. There are authoritative research articles reprinted and quoted in virtually every one of these issues, and there are often several in the TEACH Bulletins. These articles are either telling of the superior quality of home teaching / mentoring / tutoring or they are telling of the inefficiencies and dangers of state schools. I have a very fat file of newspaper clippings describing the bad effects of public schooling. I subscribe to the world’s only home schooling research journal. I read TheSchoolDaily.com, New Zealand’s schooling email newsletter, every day without fail. This source alone is enough to put you off state schooling forever as it keeps you abreast of the politics-power-money issues which seem to dominate schools, the vandalism, the horrendous acts of violence and bullying, etc. My phone number is in the Yellow Pages of many (not all) phone books under Home Schooling Advice Network. Through this I am privy to more tales of mistreatment of parents and their children by the many bullies at state schools (inmates, wardens, trustees) than you would want to hear. Any home education support group leader who has been going for a few years will also have a store house of such tales, enough to make your skin crawl. I get a weekly update from the (American) Home School Legal Defense Association. Now that one is just plain scary. And yet home schooling has been legal in all 50 of the United States since 1995. Conservative writers, not necessarily Christian, appear in the TownHall.com to criticise the state school system’s many failings. The most diverse coalition of them all, Alliance for the Separation of School and State, has a newsletter which just makes the system look like a haunt of incompetent idiots and control freaks. Groups that used to work for the good of the state system, are now calling on parents to pull their children, no, to rescue them out of these institutions. ExodusMandate.org is one, and the latest to go public with this message was none other than Dr James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Even kindly Dr Raymond Moore has referred to schools at times as places of institutionalised child abuse.
That is to say, after examining the issue through the resources listed above plus many more, I personally am totally convinced that no matter how you slice it, theologically, pragmatically, philosophically, economically, educationally, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, familially, psychologically or just looking at physical health and safety: compulsory, tax-payer funded, secular school systems are inherently bad news.
I object to compulsory secular schooling because:
1. It starts by legally forbidding the Christian faith into the classroom as if it is either irrelevant or untenable. No proof is offered, no dialogue is entertained, just raw political fiat. This is on the same level as the wisdom in sayings like, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”.
2. The Bible repeatedly tells us that the fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom. As a Christian my only logical perception of a school system that BEGINS by tossing this concept overboard is that it just crossed into Fantasy Land and burned the bridge behind it.
3. The system is solely concerned with this temporal world and rules the spiritual world and spiritual considerations out of bounds. This is a hopelessly narrow-minded view of the world we live in. It simply declares huge areas of wisdom and knowledge as irrelevant by a unilateral declaration, again with no attempt to establish the truth of the assertion. This is not an intellectually honest academic approach.
4. The system is solely concerned with this temporal world of the student as it is now: history is largely irrelevant, an environmentalist view of the future is all that is allowed, and considerations of life after death are again ruled out of bounds. This kind of thinking is short-sighted in the extreme.
5. While most people think the teachers are in loco parentis, “in the place of parents”, the teachers come to see themselves as “in place of the parents”. They inflict moral and intellectual damage on children by their own “teaching” (sex and sexuality education, values clarification, situation ethics, politically-correct revisionist history plus the entire non-subject of “social studies”) and allow children to inflict emotional and physical damage on each other (verbal and physical bullying, especially when out of sight or ear-shot), sometimes joining in themselves. This generalisation is of course unfair to the many excellent and even gifted teachers in the system who see themselves as missionaries or mavericks who refuse to toe the party line and who are valiantly fighting to preserve islands of true intellectual acumen and sanctuaries of real and useful learning. But their ranks are thinning.
6. The system separates children from their parents and from their siblings, doing great damage to family coherence, cohesiveness and unity. What is worse is that it removes children from their parents’ authority and responsibility and puts them under authorities which are often not just foreign in their standards, values and expectations, but actually hostile to the standards, values and expectations of the children’s parents and families. Parents can become so used to this state of affairs that they unconsciously abdicate much of their child-rearing, leaving it for the schools to do.
7. Children are treated as a group, not as individuals. They are processed by the system, more than actively taught by the system. Those whose learning styles and / or capabilities do not match the stream into which they have been placed are doomed to fail within the system and could well be tagged as failures for many years to come.
8. Schools are totally artificial environments, sheltered from the real world of the home, the community, the workplace and the marketplace.
9. Schools cause children to remain children for longer than they need to. They are sheltered from real-life responsibilities by adding homework, extra-curricular activities, sports, summer school and various field trips and camps to the normal classroom regimen, keeping their focus at school and school-related activities and away from family, community and work responsibilities.
10. Age-segregating peer groups, as in putting all 9-year-olds into one class, concentrates the immaturity of 9-year-olds into one place. Mob dynamics, wherein everyone in the group sinks to the lowest common denominator, is easy to take hold in such a peer-group. The group is also socialised by other immature 9-year-olds and the tendency is to become strongly peer-dependent.
11. State secular schooling pushes its own religious values without even trying to hide the fact. The Hon Trevor Mallard, Minister of Education, when launching the UNESCO and Living Values Trust “Values Education” seminars in July 2000, said the following: “Whether we like it or not schools and teachers have a strong influence on the developing values of young people and they have that influence whether they plan to or not. We have to acknowledge that all people live by a set of values and that there is certainly no such thing as value neutrality in education. It is not an easy thing to meet the obligation to include attitudes and values as an integral part of the New Zealand curriculum. The implicit values education that comes from the way a teacher behaves, the way they speak to children, the kind of control they operate in their own classroom, what is sometimes referred to as the hidden curriculum, cannot be overestimated.” (Em-phasis added.) The Hon Margaret Austin, at the 125th Jubilee of the Christchurch College of Education, reminded her fellow school teachers that they could not ignore values and stated, “…values were vital and central to everything we taught.”
12. State schools are used as experimental laboratories for educationalists and social engineers. The entire NCEA controversy of late has demonstrated this fairly clearly. “It is of serious concern to me that, despite the far-reaching effects of teaching on society, few educational practices have a sound research basis,” said Christchurch Teachers’ College principal Dr Colin Knight in the Manawatu Evening Standard of 4/12/90. He said changes in what went on in schools were mainly brought about by politically initiated reviews and reports on questionnaires and Gallup polls, by parliamentary debate and political expediency. Former head of the PPTA, Phillip Capper said, “What I would like to see in the political debate about education is a recognition that public education is an exercise in social engineering by definition.” (Dominion Sunday Times, 14/10/90.)
13. Children captive at state schools are subjected to propaganda by various special interest groups. Pro-homosexual groups are given access to classrooms to assure an understanding ear for children who may feel they have emerging homosexual tendencies. Ruling political parties push certain curricula material that presents their favoured world view. Long-time MP David Caygill has said that Governments should mold public opinion, not follow it. He said it was the politician’s responsibility to pursue policies that were in the public interest even when the public disagrees. Officer Frank Mault of the Palmerston North Police was asked why the Keeping Ourselves Safe programme in primary schools was aimed at potential victims of rape, incest, molestation and exhibitionism rather than at potential offenders. He replied with a shrug of the shoulders and the words, “I guess it’s because the children are a captive audience in the classroom each day.”
14. State secular schools are used as political tools by successive Governments. Karl Marx had as one of his 10-points-plan for world conquest by the Communists the establishment of free, compulsory and secular state schools to train up the next generations in the philosophy of the state. Abraham Lincoln, a contemporary of Marx, understood this. He said, “The philosophy of the classroom is the philosophy of the government in the next generation.”
Dear Christian fathers, my brothers. If you are not totally convinced that the best place for your children is at home where you and your wife can rear them with your eyes, ears and hands upon them under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, then please let me encourage you to read the above again. The stakes are way too high for mucking around: we are talking about the lives of our own flesh and blood, our children, for whom we will be called to account on Judgment Day. Have a good read and pray over Psalms 127 & 128, and Psalm 111:10 through Psalm 112:2. Our divine assignment here is nothing less than the re-taking and reforming of the whole world. Now there is a task to which a God-fearing man can give himself unreservedly, really get excited about and sink his teeth into!
To God be the Glory! Amen!
From Keystone Magazine
November 2002 , Vol. VIII No. 6
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