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    Obama in the Classroom

    September 4, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    As a homeschooling parent, I have found the uproar, both locally and nationally, over Obama’s attempt to speak directly to the approximately fifty million public school students…fascinating. Before I go on to explain why this is, I feel the need to repeat the quote I posted yesterday:

    The modern opium dream that education can be religiously neutral should be, in our minds, equivalent to the question of whether or not, to use Dabney’s phrase, “schoolrooms should be located under water or in dark caverns.” Neutrality about the ultimate questions can be pretended in education, but it cannot be accomplished. Therefore all schools–and all departments–must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord over all. Again, consider Dabney:

    Every line of true knowledge must find its completeness as it converges on God, just as every beam of daylight leads the eye to the sun. If religion is excluded from our study, every process of thought will be arrested before it reaches its proper goal. The structure of thought must remain a truncated cone, with its proper apex lacking.

    There is another quote along these lines in the same book {The Paideia of God}that applies here:

    Because God is sovereign over all things, everything is related to Him in some way. Because the Bible tells us that sin is real, everything is either in submission to God or in rebellion against Him. Every person is either in submission or rebellion. Every action is either in submission or rebellion. Every thought is either in submission or rebellion {Col. 2:6-10}. No neutrality exists anywhere.

    While preparing Baby O.’s lunch this afternoon, I was listening to a local talk show. This scheduled speech to public school students kept coming up, even when it wasn’t really the topic. Part of the debate seemed to circle around what was going to be said in the speech. But we don’t know what he’s going to say! the parents said. The talk show host admitted that the President might go for the push and get the children on board for whatever socialism flavor-of-the-week the President has in mind {like health care}. But the host explained that what is more likely is that the President will just pat the children on their heads, tell them to stay in school, don’t do drugs, whatever.

    One mother called in to say that her school was recording the broadcast first because they have a policy where nothing unscreened by the faculty and staff is ever shown, period. So if the message is neutral {ahem}, they will be showing it, and if it is not, they won’t. But the mother was worried that the showing of it, even if it seems harmless, was somehow connected to socialism, but she didn’t seem to know how.

    And this is why this is interesting me.

    Socialism Training Ground

    Why would I decry socialism, people on the dole through welfare or foodstamps or whatever, and the general state of dependence of so many people in our country, and then turn around and put my child in a government-funded school?

    How is getting the government to pay for my child’s education any different from getting the government to pay for my food or my health insurance or whatever it is that my husband can’t or won’t buy for our family?

    The system itself is not neutral, for it is the child’s first tutor in socialism. A child can potentially walk into school and get a free breakfast, spend the morning getting free schooling, get another free meal at noon, get free singing lessons after lunch, get free music lessons after that, another bit of free schooling, and then on to free athletics after that.

    And then he goes home and his parents tell him how awful the welfare state is, but, my friends, he lived it all day long.

    Socialism isn’t just a state of an economy. It is also a way of thinking about the world, a way of executing a society, a type of culture, and so on.

    Not Knowing What is Said

    Moving on to the parents who were concerned that they wouldn’t know what the President was going to say, there is a certain irony here. After all, if I am going to leave my child alone with someone other than myself, I never really know what is going to be said {or done} to my child. Now, obviously, depending on the age of the child, he will be more or less able to defend himself against whatever it is which comes his way. But the point remains that if I surrender my child to someone else individually, or to an institution, I am at the mercy of that person or institution.

    I have become more aware of this lately, now that we have Neighbor M. visiting us each morning. Her parents have put immense trust in me, to allow her to share in our life here for twelve hours every week. One reason they did this is because our families share the same theology.

    Families think about this when they choose Christian schools. They read the statement of faith, to find out if they can trust what will be taught in their absence.

    If the institution does not share my faith, if the teacher does not share my faith, if the text books do not share my faith, then I should be worried about what is being said in my absence because, as we already discussed, there is no neutrality in this world, and my children are on the wrong side of the antithesis.

    In Conclusion

    Observing all of this, I can only say my conclusion is that, at least in the calls received on this local show today, parents seem to be upset that their government school has shown itself to be…a government school.

    Jimmy Carter began the federalization and centralization of education before I was even born. Why should anyone be shocked that the ultimate head of the school actually wants to speak to his students?

    I think that parents that are this concerned might want to think about this {HT: SpunkyHomeschool}:

    For at least three decades, conservatives have wasted their time and energy pursuing the idiotic rallying cry, “Let’s take back our public schools!” They aren’t your schools, folks. They belong to the government…

    [snip]

    The first lesson a child is taught in government school is, “Your parents are too stupid even to teach you how to read and write.” And the second lesson is closely related to the first: “Government is good for you!”

    [snip]

    What if all the children of smart parents were “yanked off the premises” not just next Tuesday, but permanently. If this is the event that finally reveals to smart parents the truth of what this system is really all about, what if Sept. 8, 2009, marked the first day of home-schooling for millions of American children?

    I’ll echo that question: What if?

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    7 Comments

  • Reply Anonymous September 8, 2009 at 3:32 am

    The constitution allows the Federal government to maintain the post office and post roads, or roads which will carry mail. I believe this allows the government to build most interstate highways. Local governments or federal, depending on your extension of federal government powers, should be responsible for all feeder roads. One could make an argument that the Federal government could also be responsible for airports by extrapolation of this power.

    I think the overriding concern about the federal government powers is that there is not any right for any individual that requires another individual to pay for it, i.e. health care, education and welfare. Anything that takes my labor and gives to another is immoral.

    Through the constitution we have a contract that dictates the federal government follow these guidelines, without it we have anarchy. The Declaration of Independence addresses the right for pursuit of happiness and without the full benefit of my labor it all means nothing.

  • Reply Ellen September 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    I am amused and a little disturbed about the whole brew ha ha about Obama’s speech to the classrooms. I can’t stand the man and think he will probably lead us into economic collapse, but I don’t really see what the big deal is about having the president give a short speech in a public school. He’s not the first president to address school children. Bush did. I seriously doubt he’s going to be able to brainwash all the children in 5 minutes or less, and if he’s able to, their parents aren’t doing much of a job of teaching them. I think that conservatives getting all bent out of shape over this is probably having the effect of making kids MORE interested in this speech. If they weren’t screaming about it, the kids would probably yawn and forget about it before lunch. =) This is an overreaction that isn’t helping conservatives, in my opinion.

  • Reply Brandy September 6, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Mystie,

    Yes! Good point: it is right, for instance, for the government to pay to try and punish a criminal, for this is inside of the government’s sphere of authority. And it is right for families to finance their own child’s education because that is a responsibility inside of the family’s sphere of authority (i.e., Deut. 6).

    Si studied Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty concept a couple years ago, and it really clarified some things for me. I assume this is what you are referring to.

    Let me know if your husband ever figures out the roads. Traditionally in our country, roads were built by the people building the towns (and also companies building towns, like the railroads did). The idea was that the roads were built not to charge the townspeople for their use, but to gain profits through easier business transactions. It is hard to think of taking responsibility for roads on a personal level because (1) the government has made all sorts of laws dictating what must constitute a road and (2) we are a people who hire others to do things for us and have lost the bulk of our generational knowledge which would have allowed us to easily build and maintain roads of any kind. Some farmers in our area still maintain private roads, but that is about it.

  • Reply Brandy September 6, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Emily,

    I know that that one is a tough thought. It has actually taken me years to be brave enough to say it out loud because it is so controversial. However, I DO believe it to be true.

    To really understand the socialist underpinnings of public education, one will need to study the history of public education. There have pretty much always been schools, but public education has certain nuances which distinguish it from private education of all kinds (home, private tutors, governesses, or private schools).

    I would highly suggest reading the works of either John Stuart Mill or John Dewey. Actually, both is best. Dewey and Mill are responsible for the form and function of public education today, and Mill understood exactly what he was doing. The article I quoted included a representative quote from Mill:

    A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government.

    Now, Mill was primarily philosophizing about the possibilities, but Dewey took this and ran with it, realizing this power, and desiring to use it to bring about social change (sound familiar)? I first learned about Dewey in my favorite book, Poetic Knowledge, and I wrote a post about it here.

    Okay, so I’m sort of rambling here.

    With all of this said, I think that we as a culture, if we really want to be independent, free people in the truest sense of the word, we will have to think about what we expect others to pay for. This was hard for our family to do in the beginning because we…didn’t have a lot of money. What we did have, we had a tendency to want to hold on to! But we have learned that part of taking responsibility for something doesn’t just mean paying for it ourselves in blood, sweat, and tears, but also paying for it in actual money.

    The welfare state is so huge, that I think pretty much all of us ARE on welfare. It is almost inescapable. But the culture is a reflection of ourselves, so we will have to seek out where we each, as individual families, have allowed our own liberty to enslave another through taxation, and then make a plan to remedy the course. This might take some families years, for the State which makes us dependent puts us in a sort of bondage that is hard to case off.

  • Reply Mystie September 5, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    The difference between accepting government protection and government education is that the government is given the authority and duty by God to protect its people, and God has commanded us to pay our taxes, which are supposed to be used for those purposes. But the authority and duty to educate children God has given to parents, so the government should not tax the general population in order to pay for education anymore than it should tax in order to pay for health care or charity (food stamps, etc.) or Social Security. All these are a usurpation by the government of the role of father and Church, and so are welfare.

    And I might give you roads…my husband always comes back in these discussions to wishing (on principle) that roads were private business, but hasn’t figured out how it might work. 🙂

  • Reply Lift Up Your Hearts September 5, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    You know that I am not a fan of the public school system, but saying it’s a form of welfare would be the same thing as saying that we are all accepting welfare. We do, after all, drive on government-maintained highways, are protected by government-paid police forces and on and on.

  • Reply Gretchen Joanna September 5, 2009 at 1:33 am

    I agree completely. Thank you for saying it so well.

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