Train Up a Child…! Treasure in Clay Pots

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Humankind is being led along an evolving course, through this migration of intelligences, and though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream, and that will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are.” Rumi

In 1958, Congress passed the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) in response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik. To help ensure that highly trained individuals would be available to help America compete with the Soviet Union in scientific and technical fields, the NDEA included support for loans to college students, the improvement of science, mathematics, and foreign language instruction in elementary and secondary schools, graduate fellowships, foreign language and area studies, and vocational-technical training.

By 1965, the nation was in a state of flux. And the focus of federally funded education dramatically shifted from math and science to social programs. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act launched a comprehensive set of programs, including the Title I program of Federal aid to disadvantaged children to address the problems of poor urban and rural areas. And in that same year, the Higher Education Act authorized assistance for postsecondary education, including financial aid programs for needy college students.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Department of Education Organization Act. By 1980, Congress established the Department of Education as a Cabinet level agency. However, the ED only held an 8% vested interest in the education of America’s children. Today, the 4,045 ED employees (by far the smallest Cabinet-level department) serve nearly 14,000 school districts and some 56 million students attending roughly 99,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools.

Since the creation of ED, the setting of academic standards for what students should know and be able to do has largely driven Education reform in the United States. The standards-based reform movement calls for clear, measurable standards for all students. The major problem is that many students are failing to master the standards of competency for their particular grade level. So by middle school these same students particularly minorities are several standards behind grade level. Subsequently, hundreds of thousands of American school children drop out of high school every year because they are unable to pass an exit exam whose standard requirement is pre-Algebra and 8th grade reading proficiency. Why have educational expectations sunk so low? What happened to American pride and scholastic excellence? Why are our children’s future being disposed of like recycled plastic bottles? Why has this nation failed its children so miserably?

As parents, what will it take for us to seize the mantle of responsibility for raising our children once again? How many more shootings, beatings and rapes will it take to get our attention? What good is an education if it fails to educate and make us better human beings?

Our children are learning to be mediocre. They are learning to question nothing and accept everything. They are learning to defy authority and despise what is good. They are learning to cheat, lie and take short cuts in life in order to get what they want. They are learning to kill without conscience and to be students of violence and war. They are learning that the only heroes are those who wear a badge or carry a gun in battle. They are learning that 15-minutes of fame is greater than a lifetime of service or sacrifice. They are learning that God is whatever you believe God is; that is, if they believe in god at all. They are learning that only those with money, power and prestige are suitable role models. They are learning that dysfunction and noise is normative and that peace and silence is boring. They are learning that being smart or intelligent will only get you bullied. They are learning to distrust the voice of their parents and denounce all great traditions. However in spite of what the world is teaching them. In spite of this world’s efforts to mis-educate them, it is our awesome responsibility as parents to do the job of shaping the future of their souls, not only for this time, but also for all eternity. Our children are worth it! Within each of them is precious heavenly treasure stored up in clay pots.

Train Up a Child…! The Age of Aquarius

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The battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom…between the rotting corpse of Christianity…and the new faith of humanism. Humanism will emerge triumphant. —John Dunphy; The Humanist; January/February, 1983

Among those who experienced the socio-political revolution of the 1960s, many felt that era was the beginning of the Age of Aquarius; a Uranus-Pluto conjunction which astrologically marked an era of collective change in the universe. Thus, the Age of Aquarius was purportedly a galactic shift in human consciousness which promised to usher in a much anticipated age of peace and love. Yet as we look back on the decade of the sixties it is apparent that something overtook love.

If this were the true Age of Aquarius then humanity distinguished itself more as warrior then peace-bearer because never in the history of the United States had there been so much violence, civil-disobedience, political unrest, assassinations and war! The counterculture that was foisted on the 1960s adolescent youth of America was not merely analogous to hedonism and paganism, it was a literal resurrection of an ancient cult down to the popularization of the Isis cross (the “peace symbol”) as the counterculture’s most frequently used symbol.

Train up a Child Education 5The peace symbol (also called the “broken cross,” “crow’s foot,” “witch’s foot,” “Nero Cross,” “sign of the ‘broken Jew,'” and the “symbol of the ‘anti-Christ”’) is actually a cross with the arms broken. It also signifies the “gesture of despair,” and the “death of man.”

Two ideals struggled for supremacy over the minds of American youth, the one: the industrial ideal, culminating through the supremacy of commercialism; the other, the ideal of humanism, which placed humanity above all. The fight to control the course of education reform was crucial to the future of the nation. It was no accident that commercialism won the battle but humanism won the war. Subsequently, radical education reforms were introduced as the political landscape of America was undergoing its own “galactic shift.”

Reformers began to see education as a major player in helping shape public policy and consciousness as the integration of American schools allowed for the slow erosion of long-standing institutions like Jim Crow along with centuries of generational race prejudice. Believing that all education had to take its lead from the laws of human development elucidated by the new discipline of child psychology, the educational progressives scorned the attempt by traditionalists to maintain the sovereignty of a moral code which had for centuries governed American schools. Many traditionalists argued: ‘the laws governing the development of the soul were not subject to conditions arising out of the crudely developed social institutions of men. The laws, they reasoned, may be ignored, and the institutions may continue, but at a sacrifice beyond estimation.’ A key conviction underlying the progressive agenda was that children had to be guided into becoming critical thinkers who could judge for themselves accepted institutions, customs, morality and values.

This humanistic philosophy has been allowed to indoctrinate indeed brainwash our children unabated for decades through the guise of public school reform, education policy, and most insidiously through its academic curriculum.

So today . . .

  • 1,000,000 million students across the United States failed to graduate in 2006.
  • US school children take 4x as much behavior modification meds as all children in the rest of the world combined.

Now . . .

  • Approximately 38% of public schools reported at least one incident of violence to police during 2005-2006.

In the same year, students ages 12-18 were the victims of about 628,200 violent crimes at school, including rape, aggravated assault, and robbery.

  • Violent street gangs are active in 94% of all medium and large sized cities in America.
  • Today’s gangs are very sophisticated, crossing state lines to establish groups and recruit members as young as 10 years old in communities across the country.

A recent survey of schools found there were an estimated 4,000 incidents of rape or other types of sexual assault in public schools across the country. And this was in just one academic year!

  • About 40% of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.

Inauspiciously the US Constitution made no provision for federal authority in education. So why was there a need for the US Department of Education (DOE) to come into existence in 1980? Who has benefited? And what are American children really learning in the village?

To be continued…

Train Up a Child…! The Psychology of the Village

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Every child in America entering school at the age of five is mentally ill because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our Founding Fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. Its up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well – by creating the international child of the future.

— Chester M. Pierce; Professor of Education and Psychiatry; Harvard

In 1996, Hilary Clinton made famous the ancient African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” The proverb is from Igbo and Yoruba regions of Nigeria and the basic meaning is that raising a child is a communal effort. In other words, the responsibility for raising a child lies not only with the parents, but also with the extended family and in some cases the community. I have little or no problem with a community assuming responsibility for the safety and welfare of its children. On the surface, there is nothing controversial about the idea that it takes more than parents to raise a child. Grandparents, friends, pastors, teachers, local leaders, and many others in the community all have a role in the lives of our children. In her book, Mrs. Clinton does acknowledge, “Parent’s bear the first and primary responsibility for their sons and daughters.” Unfortunately, the remainder of the book not only contradicts this position it exposes her true purpose and intention for the use of the word ‘village.’

Let’s look at just one example. Mrs. Clinton believes that the best way to solve what she believes is the problem of adequate day care facilities, is to adopt the French model of day care. She asks us to “imagine a country in which nearly all children between the ages of three and five attend preschool in sparkling classrooms, with teachers recruited and trained as child care professionals.” She goes on to say this exists where “more than 90 percent of French children between ages three and five attend free or inexpensive preschools called écoles maternelles. Even before they reach the age of three, many of them are in full-day programs.” (President Obama is also proposing a similar program for pre-K children).

Her desire is to replicate this system in the United States so that the state can have an early maternal influence on the children of America. She envisions a country in which “Big Brother” essentially becomes “Big Sister or Big Momma.”

But is this really what we want for our children? Do we really want a nationally subsidized day care system that puts three-years-olds (even two-year olds) in institutionalized care? Throughout the book Mrs. Clinton seems to be making the tragic assumption that the state can do a better job of raising children than parents. She proposes a system in which the First Lady becomes the “First Mom”–a system in which children are no longer the responsibility of the parents, but become instead wards of the state. This is what I call the psychology of the village whereby our children essentially become quasi-wards of the state and the government becomes the adopted parent for our children. The controversial plan would start with low-income families, single parent homes, and then extend the program as a public option to the general public. Sound familiar? The problem is the federal government has already socialized public education and over the last forty years has failed miserably to provide our children with even the most basic education and life skills. So why would we ever consider entrusting our pre-k children to the State?

Mrs. Clinton fosters the idea that one day the global village will replace our antiquated notions of child rearing and parenting. What she and others fail to say outright is that they believe the psychology of the village will one day replace the “old” moral code.

Teachers must guide students toward a new morality.  The strict adherence to a code — a moral code — is out of date. — Theodore Sizer

So what is this newly proposed morality? Is this the unspoken purpose of a public school education? Doesn’t this contradict the very word of God which exhorts each of us to train up our own children? Which proverb will raise our children?

You can only have a new society, the visionaries have said, if you change the education of the younger generation. … Of the Aquarian Conspirators surveyed, more were involved in education than in any other single category of work. … “The psychology of becoming has to be smuggled into the schools.” …— Marilyn Ferguson; The Aquarian Conspiracy; p. 280-281

To be continued…

Train Up a Child…! The purpose of Education?

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“The purpose of education is to change the thoughts feelings and actions of students.” (Benjamin Bloom, 2005, p. 1)

If I asked any parent what the purpose of a public education is today what do you think they would say? Well . . . According to a recent Gallup poll (August 2009) — Three in four American parents (75%) expressed satisfaction with the education their children receive in public school, compared to 45% of the general public who are satisfied with the state of schools nationwide. This is disturbing on numerous levels. However, I’m convinced that this is only true because most Americans are ostensibly unaware of the true purpose of public education. In order to fully understand the intended purpose of public education one must critically examine the sub-textual language of public education’s founding fathers. One pioneer, an educational psychologist by the name of Benjamin Bloom, introduced a distinct theory of education called Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Bloom’s Taxonomy was a classification system developed in 1956 to categorize intellectual skills and behavior important to learning. Bloom identified six cognitive levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, with sophistication growing from basic knowledge-recall skills to the highest level, evaluation. It is important to note that all teachers in the United States are required to study Bloom’s taxonomy. Below is an illustration of Dr. Bloom’s original model.

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However, in the 1990s, one of Bloom’s students, Lorin Anderson, revised the original taxonomy. In the amended version of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the names of the major cognitive process categories were changed to indicate action because thinking implies active engagements.

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Notice the developmental category Knowledge was replaced by Remembering. As well as the developmental category Synthesis was replaced by Creating. (More on that later!)

But why was it necessary to replace knowledge with remembering? Why the emphasis on rote memorization relative to knowing and mastery? Take a look at what a noted Harvard University Professor had to say. . .

The present “traditional” concept of literacy has to do with the ability to read and write.  But … do we really want to teach people to do a lot of sums or write … when they have a five-dollar hand-held calculator or a word processor? … Do we really have to have everybody literate—writing and reading in the traditional sense … ?

— Anthony Oettinger; Professor; Harvard University; as quoted in Chronology of Education

Wait a minute! But isn’t literacy and writing the purpose of an education to begin with? Why would a professor of higher learning who is obviously educated in the traditional sense oppose your children and mine having access to the same education that he was afforded? And why would he purport to exclude some from attaining a basic education? To better understand Professor Oettinger listen to the sub-textual argument his predecessor educational philosopher John Dewey made to his colleagues.

The children who know how to think for themselves, spoil the harmony of the collective society that is coming, where everyone would be interdependent.

Independent self-reliant people would be a counterproductive anachronism in the collective society of the future where people will be defined by their associations.

— John Dewey, 1896, educational philosopher, proponent of modern public schools.

Are you still confident about the purpose of public education? Surely our elected officials have our children’s best interest at heart. After all, they’re the ones who keep reminding us of how low performing American children are in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world.

We no longer see the teaching of facts and information as the primary function of education… Building a new kind of people must be a part of the curriculum… More and more schools are the center of all human resource development… The earlier we can intervene in the lives of people the more effective we can be.

Some people say we are spending more on schools and getting less. I disagree – what we are doing is taking on more and more in schools and that will continue. We are not only feeding kids at lunch, we are supplying more psychological services. We are providing special ed services. More and more school is the cog or center of all human resource development.

— Dr. Shirley McCune; Governor’s Conference on Education; Wichita, Kansas; 1989

What? This was said at a Governor’s Conference on Education? In America? So if the purpose of education isn’t to educate then what is its purpose?

To be continued…

America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 6)

*Top Ten Organized Religions of the World

*Statistics of the world’s religions are only very rough approximations.

Religion Members Percentage
Christianity 2.1 billion 33.0%
Islam 1.5 billion 21
Hinduism 900 million 14
Buddhism 376 million 6
Sikhism 23 million 0.36
Judaism 14 million 0.22
Bahaism 7 million 0.1
Confucianism 6.3 million 0.1
Jainism 4.2 million 0.1
Shintoism 4 million 0.0

“Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression, which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)

The Weakening of Cultural Foundations

Civilizations die! The pattern of birth, maturity, and decay would seem to be inescapable. For where is the glory of Babylon now? Or that of ancient Egypt, China, India, Greece, Rome? Gone—like a early morning mist or a distant dream, they are all gone—that is the historical record. So is America somehow so privileged that it constitutes a historical exception? For those seduced by noise, toys, and technology, the current seismic shift in American culture is nothing more than the transformative growing pains of a global “Superpower”. For those who place their values elsewhere, there is a paradox that at the very core of America’s success—and within its present transmutation as well as the ethereal hope (it represents)—gestates a darkness that is every bit as dark as the early Middle Ages, no matter what the surface appearances might indicate. Indeed, from an analytical standpoint, the problem is not that civilizations collapse—for that is the rule—but that some manage to last as long as they do.

In its three thousand years, for example, Egypt suffered periods of complete political disintegration and foreign domination that sometimes lasted more than a century, and it then bounced back. While its ultimate decline was inevitable, Egypt appeared to the ancient world to be as strong, dominant and viable as it always had been. But that was strictly on the merits of its surface appearance. At the zenith of Egypt’s gravitational appeal, its culture was dying—being absorbed into the Greco-Roman Empire.

“And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them…”

Four factors are present when a civilization collapses:

(a) Accelerating social and economic inequality

(b) Declining marginal returns with regard to investment in organizational solutions to socioeconomic problems

(c) Rapidly dropping levels of literacy, critical understanding, and general intellectual awareness

(d) Spiritual death—that is, Spengler’s classicism: the emptying out of cultural content and the freezing (or repackaging) of it in formulas—kitsch, in short.

Kitsch (/kɪtʃ/) is a German word denoting art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art or a worthless imitation of art of recognized value.

Is this what the church is today? A worthless imitation of the art of Love? A tasteless copy of the art of caring? Has the world lost its recognized value of Christ because of the church in America? 1/3 of the human population professes to be Christian yet there is still war. 70% of Americans profess Christ yet 18% of all children ages 0-17 live in poverty in the United States and 1-in-every 100 adults is in prison. So are we simply inferior copies of Christ? Are we really Kitschians rather than Christians? Is this why American culture is dying? Is this why America like all the great civilizations before her is collapsing?

To be continued…

America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 5)

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“The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures. Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue. It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them, but it is also correct that we dare not throw out our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.” Senator Ted Kennedy

America’s public education system is guilty of educational eugenics or at the very least social Darwinism. Why such a harsh indictment? Let’s take a closer look at education spending. The previous administration spent nearly $23.3 billion dollars on an education program called “No Child Left Behind.” According to the Department of Education, there are about 3 million public school teachers in the country. That means the $23.3 billion spent on No Child Left Behind would have been enough for a pay raise of more than $7,000 for every single public school teacher in the country. Alternatively, since the average public school teacher’s salary is about $47,700 per year, $23.3 billion could have hired about 490,000 new school teachers and reduced class sizes in America’s public schools from an average of 16 to 14 students. The $23.3 billion could have also been used to create new school choice options for disadvantaged kids.

With about 18 million economically disadvantaged children in America’s schools, the $23.3 billion could have given each of these students a scholarship worth about $1,300. These scholarships could have helped pay for private school tuition, one-on-one instruction from an after-school tutoring center, or a summer learning program. But very little of the $23.3 billion was spent for education. A portion went to eliminate the inheritance tax for the children of millionaires. Another portion went for education reform: “rigorous standardized testing” (the so-called “equity factor”) for every student beginning in the third grade. Ironically, any student who failed was doomed to repeat the same grade (was “Left Behind”). And any public school with repeated offenses (tested below standards) was penalized with a hostile takeover by the local state Government.

After funding the operations of the federal education department, the overwhelming majority of the $23.3 billion was allocated to dozens of independent federal programs, each with its own bureaucratic agenda. As the funds travelled from Washington, D.C., back to local school districts, most of the $23.3 billion dollars was absorbed by administrative costs and bureaucracy before a single dollar reached a school or a classroom.

Here’s how No Child Left Behind worked in the classrooms. Millions of 8 year olds were given a list of words and phrases. They would try to read the list. They would then try to rote-memorize the list. Then they were graded, like chattel. Some were prime, some were OK, but many failed.

Once the children were all stamped and sorted, the parents of the marked ones would look to the Government to fulfill its tantalizing promise to “make sure all children have better options when schools are not performing.” No Child Left Behind was a paper tiger with no teeth. There was never a system of accountability in place. And consequently millions of American children were again left behind.

Meanwhile. . .

A member of the local church is picking up their child from one of those “low-performing” schools. Her child is failing. His school has been seized by the state. She drives up to the school in a Mercedes Benz, the one she and her church corporately prayed for. She tells everybody Jesus blessed her with a Mercedes Benz. She eagerly shares her prosperity testimony with strangers. The gospel of Mercedes Benz. Her personalized license plate reads: 4HzGlrE!

To be continued…

America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 4)

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“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein

By virtually every measure of achievement, American students lag far behind their counterparts in both Asia and Europe, especially in math and science. Moreover, the evidence suggests that they are falling farther and farther behind. As educational researcher Harold Stevenson notes, although “the U.S. is among the countries expending the highest proportion of their gross national product on education, our elementary school and secondary school students never place above the median in comparative studies of academic achievement.”

Part of the reason is that neither our schools nor our students spend very much time actually studying. The National Education Commission on Time and Learning found that most American students spend less than half their day actually studying academic subjects. The commission’s two-year study found that American students spent only about 41 percent of the school day on basic academics. Their schedules jammed with course work in self-esteem, personal safety, AIDS education, family life, consumer training, driver’s ed, holistic health, and gym, the typical American high school student spends only 1,460 hours on subjects like math, science, and history during their four years in high schools. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Japan will spend 3,170 hours on basic subjects, students in France will spend 3,280 hours on academics, while students in Germany will spend 3,528 hours studying such subjects – nearly three times the hours devoted in American schools.

By some estimates, teachers in Japan give elementary students three times as much homework as American children are given by their teachers, while teachers in Taipei give their students seven times as much homework as children in Minneapolis. By fifth grade, children in Minneapolis are getting slightly more than four hours a week in homework, while fifth graders in Japan get six hours and students in Taipei, thirteen hours.

Education is failing in the United States because the practices and theories it is based upon are incorrect, and effectively sabotage the students’ learning ability. “Even the best American schools were not competitive with their counterparts in Asia on mathematics achievement . . . The highest-scoring American school falls below the lowest-scoring Asian schools.”‘

Why is there such a disparity in education? Is it too expensive, too heavy a burden, to educate our children? Is there a “better option” other than testing? And what are we measuring? Incompetence? Indifference? Are our expectations for academic achievement also sub-standard? Have we simply accepted education standards that are so low that our children need colored-coded cash registers to work at McDonald’s? And speaking of color-coding. . .  Where’s the money for the students getting crushed in cash-poor districts? What is the point of having suburban campuses with big green lawns and highly-touted AP programs when American students have the test-scores and academic lucidity reminiscent of the mark of Cain?

To be continued…