The current state of affairs is light-years removed from the Founders’ view of education.
- Bryan Fischer
The state of the government school system is so abysmal that parents are fleeing in droves and taking their children with them. Even the low-information media, as exemplified by The Washington Post, is taking notice.
The number of students who are schooled at home has doubled since 1999, when the federal government first began collecting data. This means that almost 2 million (!) school-age children, 3.4% of the student population, have escaped the mind-numbing and stifling environment of God-free schools for the safety and quality of a home-school.
Contrary to the myth that home-schoolers are toothless hillbillies, 4 in 10 home-school students are being taught by parents with a college degree. And contrary to another myth that home-schooling is just an option for rich suburbanites, almost 1/3 of home-school students live in urban environments.
The reason cited most frequently by home educators (36%) in the 2007 survey was a commitment to see that their children were provided a “religious” and “moral” education, something they knew they would never receive in the average government school stripped of Christianity and morality by secular fundamentalists and activist judges.
The reason cited second most frequently (25%) by parents in 2012 is closely tied to the first. It has to do with the school environment, including things like drugs, safety, and peer pressure. It should come as no surprise that in an environment in which God’s standards of morality, self-control, and service are not taught, a deterioration of all kinds occurs. It’s not long before we need metal detectors at every entrance and armed police on campus all the time. What parent would choose an environment like that for his children if he had alternatives?
The current state of affairs is light-years removed from the Founders’ view of education. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 set aside land for schools as the United States expanded to the West. The reason? The Founders knew that in order for America to be strong, its youngest citizens needed a solid foundation not only in math and geography but in Christianity and morality.
Decreed the Founders (emphasis mine), “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Contrary to currently prevailing dogma, the Founders knew that every school should be a place in which religion - by which they meant Christianity - should be taught and honored and in which morality - by which they meant the Ten Commandments - should be upheld as the ultimate standard of human behavior.
The solution to our educational dilemma is simple: parental choice in education. Our policy ought to be that education dollars should follow the student to the school of the parents’ choice. Period.
Parents - who love their children more than school bureaucrats do - should be able to send their child to any type of school they wish. They’re in the best position to determine what the optimal educational environment is for each of their children, and we should honor their preference wherever and whenever possible. Parents should be given the choice about whether to enroll their student in a government school, a charter school, a parochial school, a private Christian school, a private secular school, or a home school.
Any restrictions on the flow of dollars to religious institutions flagrantly violates the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, which flatly forbids government from “prohibiting the free exercise” of religious faith. When tax dollars are allowed to flow to secular schools but not to Christian ones, this represents an intolerable, unconscionable, and unconstitutional form of discrimination which is fundamentally contrary to our founding ideals.
School choice will be on the ballot on November 8. One of the two candidates for president supports parental choice in education ("As your president I will be the nation's biggest cheerleader for school choice"), the other does not. One candidate wants parents to be in charge of their child’s education, while the other wants the government to stay in control.
If voting parents would like to move the United States in the direction of choice in education, they’ll have a chance to do it next Tuesday. May they choose wisely.