By David Tulis
The alarm among Christians who patronize government-run schools has a clear cause. Common Core, the name of the latest spate of reform, promises further control by Washington. What are moms and dads to make of the opposition to Common Core, particularly if they are Christian or home educators? How worked up should we get?
We’ll let Tony Perkins of a Washington G Street lobby, Family Research Council, sound the klaxon.
You should be very concerned about the spreading, hidden nightmare facing them in school today: public schools, private, religious, even home schools. I’m not talking about bullies, playground predators, or school violence; I’m referring to . . . the morally corrupt federal takeover of education called Common Core — or as I prefer to call it — OBAMACORE.
Because the Common Core has been hijacked by President Obama, it is a power grab with the familiar earmarks: “Attacks on religious values and freedoms; central control; secrecy; skyrocketing costs; and catastrophic ineptitude.”
Mr. Perkins talks about the prospect of disaster — meaning, disaster is ahead if Christians don’t fight back and take control of government schools. “If Obamacore is allowed to take control of America’s educational system, I foresee a nation where children are indoctrinated with a liberal ideology that celebrates sexual perversion, worships the creation rather than the Creator, all at the expense of academic achievement and our nation’s Christian heritage.”
The disaster is something we can avert if we just act properly. The more he describes what will happen, the more we feel the need to join the crusade.
Obamacore opens education to even more propaganda in class than we are experiencing today. Its “one-size-fits-all” approach not only eliminates more advanced material, but also makes it difficult for teachers to teach students individually. Typical of other liberal programs, rather than raise up underperformers, Obamacore will lower standards of higher-performing states in order to “level the playing field.”
If Mr. Perkins’ Christian supporters don’t find a way to waylay the program, they will lose control of education.
Relief on way
Mr. Perkins emphasizes the problem of the factory school in its futurity, its prospect, its terminus in absolute despotism. Public schools still belong to you. They are accountable to you, the parent. If you join the crusade against Common Core, you will help avert the threat that is in prospect.
The goal is “to take back the reins of control,” and to do that, Mr. Perkins says, we must support the Family Research Council, whose task is to “save local education” by providing legislators, administrators, teachers and parents “with key research that conclusively proves that this federal takeover will do more harm than good.” He says that “FRC helps give elected officials the information they need to build a compelling case with their colleagues to dismantle Obamacore, or at the state level, opt out.”
Of course, “the time to act is short” and costs in opposing Common Core are rising, Mr. Perkins warns. “The future of America’s children is at stake,” Mr. Perkins intones. “As Christian citizens, we must never relinquish the education of our children to the federal government.”
Families take control of education
Yes, but in Mr. Perkins’ position of compromise, it is acceptable to relinquish education to state governments. Nashville and Atlanta are better than Washington. He pretends that state governments are distinct, full of integrity, having made no compromises either with teachers’ unions or the latest fads in pedagogy, surveillance or standardization. He pretends that my salvation in education is schooling run by the Tennessee department of education in Nashville and Dr. Rick Smith, the superintendent of 40,000 children in Hamilton County. If we join Family Research Council to stop Washington radicals from taking over “American education,” we accept Mr. Perkins’ idea that education = schooling and that schooling is safe if run by the state’s good people here in our hometown.
I have no doubt that Mr. Perkins is one of God’s people, a faithful Christian who labors to glorify God in his calling at Family Research Council and its exposes of the evils of centralized bureaucracy. The group thinks if people just know about Obamacore, they will act to stop it; they can go back to being regular customers of public schools, no questions asked. If we stop Common Core, well, we have succeeded; we will have “return[ed] the authority for educating our nation’s children to parents and local communities.”
But Mr. Perkins is deceived, and if we accept his argument, we follow him in the world of appearances.
Writing to Christians, Mr. Perkins thinks somehow our duty is to save public schools, to let the factory school escape an apparently new owner, the federal government. Common Core is about a hostile corporate buyout, its patents, facilities and property (its customer base).
The problem in Christendom isn’t lack of intelligence. It is allegiance. The scriptures make clear the duty of parents to train up their children in the way they should go, and parents are denied authority to give their children to any false teacher, any wicked professor, any godless benefactor or any authority acting lawlessly and outside its competence. The public system prides itself on its commitments and makes no bones about them. Whereas Christians are to worship a sovereign and gracious God who reveals Himself in the scriptures, school systems insist on materialism, evolutionism and progressive thinking. Schools, regardless of the virtues or sins they expound, more importantly teach that young people are not to have their own storylines or follow their own genius, but to be part of a scientifically managed group.
Free market beckons
Christianity is built or destroyed on how it teaches its children to remember the claims of God. The great compromise is to think that state schools are neutral and that a Christian family may delegate the training and teaching of children to the state. Christianity is badly wounded by the compromise over the instruction of its rising generation. Until she breaks from the state, she will be hobbled in her duty of reformation and rebuilding. Until she liberates herself from the school dole — the free services paid by strangers — she will not be free to encourage God’s people to press His gracious claims into every area of life.
A vast body of literature makes it clear that schooling hasn’t belonged to families and local communities for generations. Since the time of the Boston School Committee in 1820, the backers of state schools have wrested children from their families, put them into the care of the state, to have the state direct the formation of their character and ideals. American schooling was devised in Germany in the 1700s and 1800s, whose ideas and systems we borrowed and which have long controlled.
Schooling is the ideal for militarizing culture, subjugating a people, enhancing the power of the state over family and church, and suppressing dissent — the noncompliant and private narratives of meaning and purpose.
The goal of the homeschooling mom and dad should not be to save public schools, to prevent further centralization or damage to its inmates.
Mr. Perkins means well, but he misdirects the Christian impulse. Reform? No. Blocking a bad reform? Also, no. The people of God enslaved in the machine are called in scripture to be faithful to God’s law and to honor God’s propriety in their little ones. They are called to get out. God calls them out as a spiritual duty, a form of human capitalization. The free market invites them to do likewise.
In the free market Christianity has its great blessing.
In the free market — such as that of home education here in Chattanooga — Christianity operates most freely. In private and home education, the people of the Word can rear the new generation with the fewest impediments. God’s people operate without compromise of principle, and can take action that really matters.
— David Tulis hosts Nooganomics.com on Hot News Talk Radio 910 and 1240, a talk show that covers local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond. He is an officer at Brainerd Hills Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga.