So, while the arrows fly and the wounded fall, the issue of the “best” way to educate our children remains hotly debated. At stake is not only the education of our precious offspring, but also our precious reputations as parents because, if we are honest about it, part of our concern with the entire matter is that we be seen as responsible, loving parents who make wise choices for our children and do whatever is the absolute best for them. We not only want Little Johnny to be able to read “see Spot run” right on time with all the other first-graders, we want little Johnny to have the opportunity to prove his superiority in the gene pool by mastering his multiplication tables by the age of six and moving on to high school algebra long before he graduates from the sixth grade. Of course, if he is also reciting Shakespeare and designing hot new video game programs in junior high, that would be a bonus, too…anything to make us look like intelligent, well-rounded parents providing every opportunity for our children’s education. If Little Johnny manages to convince our peers that we have some particular mastery in the art of parenting due to his personal achievements, that’s just a bonus feather in our cap.
Next on Little Johnny’s educational agenda will be a class called “Boundaries of Parental Authority”. This is where he will learn all about what his parents are and are not allowed to do in their practices of raising him to adulthood. He will come away understanding that no, he does not have to do what his parents tell him to do if he does not agree with their directives, because he is entitled to his own opinions and the creative expression thereof and it is actually “abusive” of his parents to attempt to channel his personal beliefs in a direction that complements their own. He will learn that attempts by his parents to admonish or punish him for misbehavior or breaking of rules can be considered to be “controlling” or “harsh”, and thus he merely has to threaten to alert the authorities and he will get his way. But still the blessing of public education does not end…
Next on the agenda is “Realistic Sexual Expectations” class. Never mind that Little Johnny may only be in the third grade at this point, it is deemed necessary that he learn very early on exactly how to express himself sexually in a manner that avoids disease transmission and/or personal injury. He will be instructed, with the help of plaster models and donated supplies, in the fine art of applying a condom just in case he finds himself in the position of enjoying a sexual encounter (which seems like an odd activity for a third-grader to stumble across, but hey, “preparation” is one of the keys to safe sex, right?). He will be given contact information for such organizations as Planned Parenthood and advised that he may speak with a counselor at any time without his parents being informed about the conversation. Thank goodness such counseling is available from the learned elite who have a personal vested interest in Little Johnny’s physical and emotional well-being! Without such resources he would likely have to fall back on discussing such weighty matters with…egads…his parents. Remember, those individuals who care for him every day, feed him, remind him to take his bath, make sure that he washes behind his ears, and who will bear the cost of his decisions – whether wise or unwise – throughout the span of his juvenile years until he is an adult? They remain responsible for him even as others take liberties to share their opinions and agendas with Little Johnny outside of Mom and/or Dad’s earshot. Parenting isn’t for sissies, it never has been. But these days there is a “defensive mode” associated with raising children that did not exist prior to public schools overstepping their bounds from the arena of providing a basic intellectual education to shaping the morals, behavior, and personal philosophies of our nation’s young…with or without the blessing of our nation’s parents.
In the U.S., public schools were founded in order to break the cycle of ignorance and to afford all children the opportunity to acquire at least a basic education that would equip them for life as an adult. (It can be argued that a K-12 education does not afford such ability in and of itself, but that a college degree is now required for someone to truly be ready for successful life in American culture. The discussion of the necessity of a college education is an interesting one, but is beyond the scope of this writing.) Thankfully, all American children are eligible for entry into public school, so no child in this fair land need approach adulthood illiterate or unable to balance a checkbook. Billions of tax dollars each year support our country’s public school system, in addition to the countless levies and fund-raisers routinely held to cover the cost of items that somehow slip through the cracks…things like textbooks, computers, writing materials, and those really important plaster models for the students to practice on.
The solution to this moral/educational conundrum just might seem to be beyond the reach of parents as we ponder the question of, “What the heck do I do now?”. But fear not…the answer is simple! All that is needed is for the U.S. government to step back and accept that they have no business interfering in American families, the National Education Association needs to stop treating parents like idiots who only know how to produce children but who are incapable of raising them, and the basic responsibility of educating and providing for children should be restored without question to their parents…not Planned Parenthood, not the local school board, and certainly not the U.S. government. Sound a bit simplistic? Perhaps. But remember that “freedom” is a principle upon which our nation was founded. It seems reasonable that such principles should remain the bedrock upon which we build a strong and independent country, comprised of citizens who have learned how to think for themselves and who are well established in nurturing families who give stability and security to their ventures. One need only look at the failures of government policy and practices to realize that entrusting them to be the ultimate authority regarding our children’s futures might not be the grandest of ideas.
Personally, I believe that public education is ultimately a blessing in that it ensures that no American child is forced to miss out completely on at least a basic education. But it seems to me that we are witnessing a situation of “the good being the enemy of the best”. Parents should have the final say regarding the education of their own children. Period.
After all, this is Amerika…oops, I mean America…right?