WHAT’S HAPPENED TO AMERICAN EDUCATION?
By: D. James Kennedy
In the war for our nation’s children, the classroom
has become the enemy’s battleground.
T O whom do your children belong?
You would probably say that that question is patent.
Obviously they belong to you. But, my friends, you should he aware of the fact that there is a growing number of people in this country who believe that that is not the way it ought to be; that indeed the children should belong and do belong to the state; and that it is their prerogative, privilege and responsibility to care for them, educate them, and mold them into proper citizens of that state.
It is this thinking and the other ideas attendant upon it that have caused something drastic to happen in the whole American educational system. I suppose everyone in America knows that there is something amiss with our educational system today. When books like Why Johnny Can’t Read become best sellers; when it becomes common knowledge that for almost 15 years our SAT scores (the achievement scores of high school students) have been going down every year; when many people who are involved tell us that our public schools have become moral jungles, and some teachers actually fear for their lives; something is amiss in our education system. Many people do not really know what has happened and why. I would like to take a look, with you, at where we have come from and how we arrived here.
American Education: It Came
Over on the Mayflower.
It might be well to consider where we began. Our educational enterprise in this country began, I suppose, aboard the Mayflower. Shortly before the Pilgrims set foot upon this land, they signed the Mayflower Compact in which they stated that they would create schools in order that their children might be taught to read the Word of God. Today it is unlawful for children in our public school system to read the Word of God. We, indeed, have come a long, long way. For two hundred years after the Pilgrims landed in 1620, the education of our children was in the hands of the parents and/or the churches. There was no such thing as public education or state education.
Why Johnny Can’t Read McGuffey.
Everyone is familiar with McGuffey’s Readers. William Holmes McGuffey authored The New England Primer and McGuffey’s Eclectic Reader (which, by the way, sold 120 million copies) that for many decades provided the backbone of grammar school education for this country. In that Reader, McGuffey said, ‘The Ten Commandants and the teachings of Jesus Christ are not only basic hut plenary.” Is it any wonder that in the midst of our secularist educational system today, McGuffey’s Readers are so anathematized! That is the way it was.
State Education, The Secular Saviour.
Then in the 19th century, state education came into existence. It was public education, paid for by tax dollars with compulsory laws requiring the education of the children by the state. Slowly the various private academies and Christian schools went almost out of existence. State education took over almost completely. A little reflection on the part of a thoughtful person reveals that if the state takes over education, it inevitably leads to the fact that education itself becomes secular and statist in nature. That is precisely what our educational system has become.
In the 20th century, this education took an ominous turn. Modern progressive education was introduced and spread out across this country. The great architect of that new movement was John Dewey at Columbia Teachers College where thousands of teachers were trained. Many people when they think of progressive education think of some sort of methodology of teaching which may be somewhat different. But they fail to see that beneath the methodology is something vastly more important and that is the ideology, or, if you will, the theology that underlies the modem progressive educational movement.
It is a movement which Dewey described as a “Copernican revolution which would produce in the educational realm a transformation which was as vast as the Copernican revolution produced in astronomy. What was the nature of that revolution? Very simply, it was this: It would produce an educational system where, instead of having God at the center, we would have man, and thus “humanism” gradually became the dominant ideology of the American public school system. Just what does that mean? Our schools are working feverishly to produce the perfect humanist man. And just what is a “humanist?” Let me give it to you in the words of the American Humanist Association itself In their brochure, they quote Sir Julian Huxley, one of this century’s leading humanists and former first head of UNESCO, thus: “I use the word “humanist” to mean someone who believes that man is just as much a natural phenomenon as an animal or plant: that his body, mind and soul were not supernaturally created but are products of evolution, and that he is not under the control or guidance of any supernatural being or beings, but has to rely on himself and his own powers.
Atheism, American Style.
Humanism is nothing other than the American version of atheism, which positively says, “We believe in,” rather than negatively, ‘We don’t believe in God. “But my friends, it is the same old thing. It is pure, unadulterated atheism with all of the resultant effects of atheism. There is no Deity. As the Humanist Manifesto itself said: “No deity will save us: we must save ourselves.” One of the inevitable results of humanism or atheism is the demise of all eternal standards or truths. Lynd, when he summarized the philosophy of Dewey, says that the first principle of Dewey’s thought was that there are no eternal truths. This is incredibly important to keep in mind. There are no eternal truths!.... All is relative........ .all is changing........everything is in flux in the great continuum, the great change that always goes on.... .there are no eternal verities...., there are no moral standards.
For Dewey, everything was in constant change. But it was a certain kind of change. There was a hidden agenda, there was a hidden set of values, that Dewey had and that change always had to go in a certain direction. It was a change which was understood as a rebellion against religion, against capitalism, and against individualism, and always in the direction of the collectivist socialist state. This is the underlying ideology behind the modern progressive educational system and it is unquestionably anti-Christian in its nature.
A Modem-day Titanic?
If this is the Copernican revolution in education what has it produced? Dr. W. P. Shofstall, who is the state superintendent for public schools in Arizona, in 1973 said: “The atheists have, for all practical purposes, taken over public education in this country.” This does not mean that there are not still many fine Christian people laboring diligently and indefatigably in the public school system, often placing their jobs on the line by teaching the things about moral standards and God. But, unfortunately, this is very much like putting band-aids on people on the deck of the Titanic. The results have been catastrophic.‘That our children might read the Word of God,” said the pilgrims and now the Word of God is proscribed in our public schools. ‘The teachings of Jesus are not only basic but plenary” and now the teachings of Jesus are outlawed. And God, Himself, has been expelled from our public school system and banished from the school yard.
Clarifying “Values Clarification.”
Today we have no eternal truths; therefore, no moral absolutes. And the results of that have been incalculable. What we have instead of moral absolutes is “values clarification.” Just this week I read one of the modem texts on “values clarification” used in our public schools.... That is indeed an eye-opening experience. It says that since there are no eternal truths which are valid for this generation and succeeding generations, everybody has to find his own values in his own time. Since there is nothing which is right and wrong for everybody, there are no absolutes.
I think about that very apt verse in the book of Judges, when chaos ruled the earth: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” That is what we are mass-producing today in our public school system. Instead of the Bible, we now have policemen in the halls of our schools. Muggings, robberies, rapes, and even murders are commonplace in the school system today. Drug use is endemic. Alcoholism is rampant..For college students, the two major causes of death are suicide and murder. High school pregnancies, abortions, and VD are major problems.
There are about 600,000 pregnancies carried through to term in high school age girls today in our country, which is an average of 12 unwanted children per high school per year. This does not count all of the abortions, because the student can drop out of school for a day, have an abortion, and be back again. But 12 births per high school per year! I thought of our Westminster Academy which has been open for 9 years. At the above rate 108 illegitimate children should have been born our actual score is zero. That would seem to say something to somebody about the nature of the sex education, for example, that is given. Some people think we are opposed to all sex education. have sex education in about a half dozen different classes at Westminster Academy. There is nothing wrong with a proper education for children in the matters of sex. It is absolutely essential. The problem with sex education in the public schools is that it is based on a completely amoral, or immoral foundation wherein there is no moral standard given to the children at all. Married sex and unmarried sex are equally all right. Heterosexual and homosexual activities are also endorsed. There are no standards for the young people.
What is the answer to our humanistic, secular public school system? They say the answer to this tremendous problem (600,000 illegitimate children among high school age girls per year) is more sex education of their amoral type or immoral type! Furthermore, they suggest more instruction and easier access to all sorts of contraceptives, abortion information, and free abortion clinics. Of course if they had their way, the parents would not have any knowledge of these things at all. Other such ideas are the only thing that the godless portion of our society can do about immorality. I think that is absolutely tragic and our children are reflecting the disastrous results of this system.
Enough Is Enough!
I cannot help but remember the words of the Scripture as I think of this great Copernican revolution where God was to be banished from our schools and this glorious new system was to come to pass with marvelous education and a wonderful new society and where instead we have a moral jungle and an academic nightmare. The Scripture says: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.’ “I think that it is time that American parents stood up and said, “Enough! We have had enough!”
One woman went to her son’s school to speak to the teacher. She had heard something about the new social studies textbooks, or a series of them called “The Promise of America.” The teacher was a bit embarrassed and finally said, “We don’t show some textbooks to parents.” The woman said that she felt a little bit bad about it, hut when all the students were Out at recess, she went in and borrowed her son’s textbook She read it and was astounded! No wonder they do not show those textbooks to parents! It was filled with all sorts of profanity and blasphemy and obscenities—gutter language. It endorsed illicit sex, sex out of marriage, homo-sexuality and abortion. It dragged the church and God in the mud, it was unpatriotic, it recommended draft dodging, and a number of other “wholesome values” that were being taught to our children. Yet, most of the parents are completely oblivious to the whole thing. What can he done? I am not sure. I am on a national committee which is trying to help get prayer back into the public schools. This I would like to see happen, hut I must confess that deep down I have a sneaking suspicion that it is somewhat like putting a band-aid on a cancer patient. It was true that at one time we had prayer and Bible reading in our schools, but we also had a basic theistic world view. I wonder what prayer is going to mean in a school which is basically atheistic and humanistic in every phase of its teaching; where man is just an animal; where there is no Deity who can save us, and we must save ourselves. I wonder if prayer is going to mean very much in that kind of set- ting. It might be somewhat like opening up the evening session at the local bar with a word of prayer. I am not so sure how meaningful that might be. Nevertheless, we will try.
Have We Reached the Point of No Return?
It seems, however, that far greater transformations are needed. We need a Copernican revolution again that is going to place things as they ought to be and put God back into the center of American education. Either that is going to be done in the public school system, because of the outcry of parents and the pressure they are going to put upon the Congress of the United States, or else, I think, that the whole system should be abandoned and be allowed to sink in its own filth. I wonder if at this point it is possible to change that system back again. It may he, I don’t know. I am willing to try I think the only answer is a return to the historic root of education in America which was parentally-controlled education or church- controlled education, where the Commandments of God and the teachings of Jesus were basic to the educational function and everything was seen in the light of the Creator of this universe. I thank God that the Christian school movement is growing faster than any other educational movement in America. There are three Christian schools being opened every single day. This is tremendously encourag- ing and threatening to the established humanist educational system.
Impact of the Christian School Movement.
An article in a monthly periodical, which goes out to school administrators in the public school system, analyzed this whole phenomenon of Christian school growth and they expressed great concern about it. They likened Christian schools to Amish schools, obviously going to take our children back into the 18th century or something like that, have them riding in wagons with horses. That is the kind of picture they would like to present of what Christian education is; that this is obviously something so extraordinarily backward and educationally so deficient that they are trying to pass all sorts of laws against it. Of course, the truth of the matter is that academically Christian education is so far superior to the public school education that there is no comparison. The grade scores indicate this and they full well know it. It is interesting in this article, comparing the Christian schools to the Amish schools, that the author concludes that it is the right of anybody to live in the 19th century if he wants to, to march resolutely to another drummer into the past, but he says he seriously questions if they have the right to take a significant proportion of the children of America with them. We are right back to where we began. To whom do the children belong? There is a growing movement saying that these parents have no right to take their children back into the past; to march backward while the rest of America is marching forward.
Does that not sound wonderful? But look at the facts. In the very same article, in the same column, he points out that he interviewed 91 families who had children in Christian schools and he noticed a curious fact: that 89 of those 91 families had never had a divorce, which was remarkable in light of the fact that in the general society it was 1 out of 2. He didn’t quite know what to do with that. While the rest of America is marching forward with 600,000 unwanted births among high school students.....by innumerable hundreds of thousands of abortions.....by endemic and epidemic drug use......alcoholism..... suicide.... .and immorality of every sort..... while we are marching forward into that brave new world, the Christian schools are teaching people about the moral standards of God and producing young people that love the Lord their God and desire to follow His commandments and serve Him; who love their country and are willing to serve it; who can read far better than the students coming out of the public schools and are academically superior to them—yes, indeed, my friends, there ought to he a law!
:Father, help us to know that to each of us as parents, there is placed upon us the responsibility of bringing up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. May we take seriously Thy admonition that our children should he continually taught that which is true, in church, at home, and in school, for the glory of Thy name. Amen.”
“The Rebirth Of AMERICA,”
Copyright @1986, Published by:
Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation - Philadelphia
Church of the Science of God
La Jolla, California 92038-3131
© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993