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    Obamarama 2008: Government Schools

    February 20, 2008 by Brandy Vencel


    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism.
    But under the name of ‘liberalism’
    they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program…

    Norman Thomas
    (Six-Time Socialist Candidate for President)

    I am writing this assuming that you, Dear Reader, have been around Afterthoughts for a while. There is too much context that goes into a discussion on education, something I have neither the time nor inclination to recreate for the purpose of this post. If you need some context, or just a brief context refresher course, allow me to give you a few links.

    Why We Homeschool is perhaps my most comprehensive post concerning our family’s spiritual reasons for homeschooling. For us, homeschooling is primarily a religious act, though please note that our religion encompasses all of life, and so we are not make a sacred/secular dichotomy when we say this.

    My comments in Why We Homeschool further explain that we are not jaded public school students. However, one reason why it was easy for me to embrace homeschooing was that I realized that every formative educational experience that I can remember having took place within a family or church environment.

    Why We Don’t Charter School {Part V} was a discussion on homeschooling as a political act, an economic act, an act of liberty. I explained the socialistic nature of government schools in general, and how far we have come from the days of Davy Crockett and respect for the Rule of Law. Government education, when funded at the federal level, is technically unconstitutional.

    There are more links, but these are the best sources of context for this current discussion.

    There are many different educational approaches covered in Obama’s Position Paper on K-12 Education. I will not be able to discuss all of it. I believe lots of it isn’t much of Anything New. However, I will bring up what I believe to be the biggest weaknesses, one positive, and the looming threats to homeschoolers.

    Zero to Five Education

    Yesterday, I discussed socialism’s undermining of the nuclear family. As we see here, everything is connected.

    How young should a child leave home? How young should a child be when they are forsaken by their parents for many hours every day? How does a family remain intact when every activity necessarily separates their lives emotionally, geographically, and socially? These are just a few questions I have when the idea of preschool is raised.

    Obama’s plan for this area can be boiled down to this: he will pour lots of federal money into early childhood education, and he will encourage every state to replicate Illinois’ Preschool for All program.

    Many folks will point out that Preschool for All, like many Universal Preschool proposals, are voluntary. All I can say is so is kindergarten. And yet, we are the only family I know of that chooses to opt out. And, actually, we feel quite obligated to do kindergarten at home. In our area, the only socially accepable reason to keep a child out of kindergarten is if you have a boy who is immature. And even then it is expected that he will begin his schooling in kindergarten, only a year later than his peers.

    So my prediction is that Preschool for All will become what it says: preschool for every child. Or, more accurately, children leaving home at younger and younger ages. The separation of the family. The elimination of any potential Shema-like relationship with even our youngest members.

    And I think we mustn’t be fooled. Though many politicians claim there is research supporting these sorts of programs, I have yet to read an actual study. {If you know of one, please email me a link.} This is really an attempt to legitimize daycare. To keep women unencumbered by their children so that they can go into the “real world” like a man does.

    Obama’s paper says:

    Though parents remain the first teachers for our children, an increasing number of infants and toddlers spend significant parts of their day with caretakers other than their parents.

    Two observations: {1} Is anyone else disturbed that the children are referred to as “our” children instead of the parents’ children? This was how Hitler referred to children when he outlawed homeschooling in the Reich. {2} Obama is failing to deal with the root issue. The problem here is not the lack of preschool, but that parents are parting with their children in the first place. Reasons vary. Selfishness and economic hardship are probably the top two.

    If Obama wants to build a better America, he should formulate policies that support God’s design for family. This would include building an American in which families can spend more time together, not less. Where children remain at home for more years, not fewer. Where the pressures on families are lessened, not increased. Preschool, especially cheap or free preschool, is supposed to make us feel better about leaving our children. But I don’t think we should be leaving them at all.

    “Support” for Parents with Young Children

    Obama’s paper says:

    Proven benefits of these types of programs include improved women’s prenatal health, a reduction in childhood injuries, fewer unintended pregnancies, increased involvement of fathers and increased maternal employment, reduced use of welfare and food stamps, and increased children’s school readiness.

    Before I analyze the parts I highlighted in the above sentence, I find it important to note that I do not think Obama is all bad. I do not think he is a evil man with evil intentions. What I do think is that is worldview is completely different from that of traditional Christianity. His programs, therefore, seek “benefits” that I do not consider benefits.

    In the above sentence, I highlighted the idea that Obama’s parent education would benefit sociey by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and increasing the level of maternal employment. We are not told how Obama’s plan would reduce pregnancy, but my guess, after reading many of his statements, is that abortion would be considered a useful tool in accomplishing this goal. Also, since “maternal employment” is beneficial, we see how this form of education dovetails nicely with the Preschool for All program.

    In essence, all of the early education for the family is focused on separating the members from one another. We encourage women to have fewer children, get a job, and leave the children the do have with a state employee who is trained to encourage those children to grow up…and do the same.

    Money, Money

    At this point, a lot of the plan goes into the financial aspects of training and recruiting teachers. There will be lots of government money flowing not just into the schools, but into the teachers themselves. They will be given scholarships. They will be given higher pay. And even higher pay if they work in schools that no one wants to work in.

    To some extent, I can’t say that this is a bad idea. One of the reasons there are so few men employed by the schools is due to the low pay. There is no way for a man to fully provide for his family at the lower end of the payscale. If a man becomes a teacher while he is single, he might be able to move up the ranks a bit before taking a wife and bearing children. But a man in his early thirties would be highly unlikely to consider a move into the education industry.

    I suppose I consider this important for two reasons: {1} Even though I didn’t have one of those ideal teachers in my experience, the type that you remember for the rest of your life {or so they say}, I can say with certainty that every male teacher I had but two outshined every single female teacher. Part of this might have been from their inherent ability to better control the classroom. My other guess was that they were more logical in their explanations of the subjects–I only remember being confused when under the instruction of female teachers.

    Granted, this is completely subjective, but There You Go.

    The number {2} reason is so much more imporant: In a world where men are vilified daily, and where women are encouraged to scorn them, there isn’t much better method for combatting such hateful ideology than to have good male teachers in the schools.

    This includes Christian schools, who could also stand to pay their teachers more.

    Science and Math

    Obama’s plan wants to increase American competency in science and math. For instance,

    Obama will also support state efforts to make science education a priority at the pre-K level.

    The Obama campaign is making a huge assumption: starting earlier necessarily leads to greater competency. But many would say the opposite is true. RAND Corporation, for example, has a paper on their website discussing the benefits of delaying kindergarten altogether. These benefits reportedly do not fade over time, and are greater for disadvantaged children.

    Delaying kindergarten is associated with higher math scores. The RAND paper goes on, however, to explain the real reasons our society does what it does:

    While delaying kindergarten has a positive cognitive effect for all children, it can also have a negative economic effect on families by imposing additional childcare costs for families whose children are forced to stay out of school for another year.

    So the delay benefits the children, but not the mothers, who are encouraged to work rather than raise children. Therefore, we will sacrifice math scores in the name of cheap childcare.

    It is my personal belief that math and science are best saved for a more mature mind. This is based on a number of research papers I have read, none of which I have time to explain here. My purpose in stating this is only to point out that the Obama point of view is not the only point of view, nor is it necessarily even an accurate point of view.

    School-family Contracts

    The Obama plan says:

    The Obama plan will encourage schools and parents to work together to establish a school-family contract laying out expectations for student attendance, behavior, and homework.

    {1} This undermines the father as head of his home. Now he must work with the school in setting expectations for his own child. Of course, this is a benefit of homeschooling, but most children are public schooled. Here is another instance of the destruction of traditional family structures. {2} Ask this family how they feel about giving the schools this level of control. In essence, the schools killed their child.

    Josiah Says

    Si emailed me a little sentence from Obama’s website concerning education:

    From the moment our children step into a classroom, the single most important factor in determining their achievement is their teacher.

    I have already told you that, in my own experience, this statement is false. But I thought Si’s observations, trying to analyze this statement through a biblical lense, was very astute:

    What about personal initiative? Parental influence is foundation, right? {Deut. 6:7-9 gives parents full rights and responsibilities to educate children; Prov. 9:10 speaks of true understanding; Prov. 1 is an education from father to son.}

    Taken to its logical conclusion, I would say that the State is attempting to replace the father in many areas. Education is only one.

    And, by the way, this started with Bush the “Republican conservative,” not Obama.

    Where is the Homeschool?

    My biggest concern after reading this paper is that homeschooling doesn’t fit. This paper basically spells out the implementing of an educational system that has no room for parent-directed education that takes place in the more poetic environment of the home. There is no room for the child who would benefit from delaying math until eight, or even ten years of age.

    And that concerns me. Folks who believe in the public school system have occasionally said that homeschoolers are abandoning the public schools. That they will fail if we are not there.

    When I see a worldview that views education through the lens of an institution, I get concerned.

    Very concerned.

    Undermining the Rule of Law

    The Constitution makes no room for the President to be involved in the education of individual children. The Founders would be appalled. We need a President who recognizes God’s design for society–a President who begins not by referring to “our children,” as if children were community property, but by referring to “your children” and “my children,” children who belong to a family.

    I will leave you with a couple quotes from Ron Paul, who is the biggest contrast to the above that I can think of:

    The federal government does not own our children. Yet we act as if it does by letting it decide when, how, and what our children will learn. {source}

    And

    Returning control of education to parents is the centerpiece of my education agenda…I will veto any legislation that creates national standards or national testing for home school parents or students. I also believe that, as long as No Child Left Behind remains law, it must include the protections for home schoolers included in sec. 9506 {enshrining home schoolers’ rights} and 9527 {guaranteeing no national curriculum}.

    Federal monies must never be used to undermine the rights of homeschooling parents. I will use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to encourage a culture of educational freedom throughout the nation. {source}

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    2 Comments

  • Reply Brandy February 21, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Anonymous,

    I completely agree that the government is replacing the church when we talk about whose jurisdiction many of these issues really are. And I do think that, as Christians, if we are going to be advocating that the government get out, we really need to be searching for ways to get ourselves in.

    As a young family, it is hard to think of ways to help others. We are often so bogged down in survival. At the same time, we can help in small ways and also make plans and study up for the days when it is appropriate for us to help others on an even larger scale.

    My final thought is that, Biblically speaking, it starts with our own families. I think of how the early church was caring for widows. However, the men of the church were told that it was worse than being an unbeliever for them not to provide for the widows in their own family! The message was simple: reserve the church’s charity for those who really need it by taking care of your own. So I think when we are trying to help out the world, starting in our own corner is key. If our family doesn’t have needs, what about our friends? We can work our way outwards and do a lot of good to others in the process.

  • Reply Anonymous February 21, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Brandy,
    I haven’t previously entered your discussion of Obama because I really haven’t taken the time to study his position on, well… anything. I sort of skimmed your post and I think it really comes down to the government stepping in to do what the church has not (will not?).

    We don’t take care of widows and orphans the way we should, so the government does it for us through Social Security, Medi-Care and other programs. We don’t take care of the poor the way we should, so the government institutes pre-school for all so single moms can work. Again, doing it for us. We can’t be bothered to recycle, clean up our air, or keep businesses in check by refusing to give them our money, so, once again, the government steps in to make it happen.

    As a citizen, I am frustrated by the government’s interference in my life. As a taxpayer, I am irritated by the hold the government has on my wallet. As a Christian, well, I must be at least a little relieved that the government is doing my job because it means I don’t have to, right?

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