Friday, April 23, 2010

Signposts 5 & 6 -- Teach the Children Well

It's a beautiful, rainy Spring day in Salt Lake City.  Not only that -- it's Friday, and I'm headed to California tomorrow!  Granted, I won't exactly be lounging at the beach or sipping a virgin strawberry daiquiri by the side of a pool.  But I'm in a relatively festive mood none-the-less.  =)

I'm actually going to be helping my sister with her 4-year-old, 23-month-old, and 4-week-old all next week.  My sister definitely has her hands full!  Even though she is a smart, creative, and well-educated woman with aspirations of her own, she is blessed to have a husband who provides for her and the family and so she has chosen to stay at home at this time in her life and raise her kids.

Though not everyone has that luxury, I think it's great when people with small children make the sacrifice to raise their children themselves.  And I can see that it definitely is a sacrifice!

On to a more somber but related topic, in today's article I will be looking at the next two "Signposts" in our Fourteen Signposts to Slavery series.  They both have to do with children and young people and public, government-run systems.

Looking back at some of the infamous totalitarian regimes of the 20th century (and even some that have survived through until today), we can observe that these governments sought for regimented, top-down, state-designed programs to influence the minds of the young people.

After all, every marketer knows that if you can hook someone on your product at an earlier age, they are easier to teach, more willing to buy into the marketing, and will have a much greater chance of remaining loyal to that product throughout their life.  This is true for governmental systems just as much as it is for soda, cigarettes, or pornography (all of which are incessantly peddled to the children and young people of the world).

These are just two "red flags" of fourteen that indicate a society might be descending into tyranny --

5. Use of compulsory education laws to forbid attendance at presently existing private schools.

I am not an educator and I don't have any children, so if the truth be told, I have not paid as much attention to the state of education in our nation as I would under different circumstances.  But I remember when George W. Bush came out with his "No Child Left Behind" legislation.  It certainly sounded like a good idea to many of us.  But I have to admit, these days it sounds totally Soviet to me.  Really -- all the children of America need to be kept together in one big herd?  

I know I would have hated that as a kid!  I was reading at the 3rd-grade level when I was in kindergarten.  And when I was in 3rd-grade, I had the athletic finesse of a klutzy kindergartner!  I was above average in most academic subjects, and LOVED it when our teachers separated us into groups based on our aptitude and gave us special projects.  Just as I got frustrated having to participate in reading groups with kids who could barely read, I avoided playing kick-ball with the sporty kids who could run me over in a few seconds flat!

My impression on "No Child Left Behind" has been solidified by friends in public education who bemoan the fact that they no longer have any control over the curriculum in their classroom and are limited in catering to the needs of the varying levels of student aptitude.

Now it seems that education in America has gone from state and locally-run, to a standardized-test-obsessed behemoth that offers the same curriculum, the same tests, the same almost everything to all of the diverse corners of our nation.

It seems to actually make the kids stupider.  And it gives an enormous amount of power to the publishers of  textbooks and makers of tests.  Who are these people who now have the minds of America's youth in the palms of their hands?

In regards to Signpost 5, Americans still have some rights concerning the education of their children.  I am not aware of any laws that prevent parents from enrolling their children in private schools (although the economic difficulties we are experiencing certainly have caused some to put their kids back in public schools in order to save money).

But besides the centralizing of power in Education, we have seen some disturbing signs that both state and federal government look upon homeschooling with less than admiration. 

In 2003, the federal government proposed HR 2732 -- the "Homeschool Non-Discrimination Act", which would have increased federal oversight and regulation of homeschooling.  It doesn't appear that this bill passed.  (1)

In 2008 a California court ruled that a homeschooling family in their state has no right to home school their children unless they are certified tutors. (2)

Recent news report depicting a homeschooling family in Massachusetts who don't actually teach their children anything, but let them stay up all night or watch TV all day if they want to.  The parents of this family, unrepresentative of the majority of homeschoolers in the the U.S., calmly state on camera that they believe it's best to let their children do whatever they want, if they want to learn something they will do it on their own. (3)

Whether it was designed to or not, this news piece clearly would have the effect of giving the public a bad opinion of homeschooling.

One homeschooling father had this to say about potential future government encroachment on the practice --

"Look for the first few leaks of damning stories about home schooling. They will start by demonizing the movement. Then they will move rapidly to tax it, and outlaw it in practice if not in law. Before the next election home schoolers will see a world on the horizon where school boards and local school administration have to certify their credentials. Homes will be subject to inspection and regulation by OSHA and the EPA." (4)

Since I hope to have kids someday, and there is no way I would consider putting my children in most public schools, this definitely concerns me.   

Whether or not it is of concern to you or me, Americans should have the right to have their children educated in the way they see fit without having the government constantly hassling them.

Signpost 5 -- Not yet

6. Compulsory non-military service. 

While we don't yet have laws requiring compulsory service to the state, President Obama and his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, are both on the record for promoting a period of required non-military service of individuals between the ages of 18-25.

Take a look --

Here's a commercial that has been actually aired on television depicting Obama's proposed youth corps --

Is this a harmless program that will help young people contribute to the well-being of their nation?  After all, who wouldn't want their teenage children involved in serving their community and working towards a high ideal?

The problem is not teenagers involved with community service, but rather a government reaching its hands into an arena better served by the family or church.

A youth corps is a common feature of fascist and communist regimes. It is their tactic designed to mold the minds and opinions of the rising generation to cause them to conform to a state agenda.  From Hitler's Youth Brigade, the Young Pioneers of the Soviet Union, or the Communist Youth League of China, we would be following in the footsteps of some seriously questionable regimes if Obama gets his youth corps.

Signpost 6 -- In the works

Lastly, I want to point out that in the case of the Communist nations, not only did the state want control over the young people, but it wanted to do away with all competition.  The destruction of the family and the church are two of Communism's stated goals.  

In my mind, anything that weakens the autonomy of family and church and subjugates their influence to that of the state is potentially dangerous to a free society.  

What do you think?

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