The day a movement to “put God back into the public schools” [“Christian Soldier,” November/ December] is seen by the education establishment as being evil and its perpetrators as being the enemy is the day I must become deeply concerned about the future of public education.
What is it that one fears about having godly men and women serving our country’s local school boards? Is it their strong sense of right and wrong as informed by biblical teaching? Is it their belief in a creator rather than the belief that we all came from a single cell that just happened to come to life one day? Is it their conviction that certain reading materials are not appropriate for young children? Is it their belief that children who are taught the basic values upon which our great country was established have a better chance to survive and succeed in life?
Separation of church and state was provided for by our founders to prevent the state from making any religion into the official state religion and forcing it upon its citizens. It was not their intention that we divorce religion’s moral standards from every aspect of public life.
Colorado voted on a school-voucher amendment on Nov. 3. Because of my concern about what this would do to education funding, I had decided to vote against it. But the more I read articles like “Christian Soldier,” the more I become convinced that maybe it’s time the average family that can’t afford private school should have a choice. Parents should have the choice not to have their children exposed to the teaching of evolution as if it were fact, to books by Roald Dahl, or to sex education that promotes “safe sex” and the acceptance of homosexuality as just another lifestyle.
The real myth is that public education can be conducted in a moral vacuum. The refusal to teach one value only leads to the teaching of another. You shouldn’t be surprised that groups like Citizens for Excellence in Education prefer the value system of the Bible over the latest politically correct one. The values of the Bible have proved themselves over and over again throughout time.
I am not familiar with the particular agenda of Robert Simonds, other than the information you provide in your article. But just because someone opposes cooperative education, whole language, outcome-based learning, and self-esteem programs doesn’t necessarily make him misguided. The efficacy of these trends in education remains to be proved. Surely you are not suggesting that the education establishment believes that it is in the best interest of our nation’s children to have its agenda for education reform go unquestioned. True Christians would judge programs such as these on their merits, not merely on the policy statement of another man.
Del Norte, Colo.
Trust The Teacher
Almost every teacher-related magazine or newspaper I pick up seems to have one or more articles on student testing. I carefully read each one, including “Enemy Of Innovation” [September], hoping to catch some meaningful insight. One alternative has so far been completely ignored: Why not trust the professionals? Granted, standardized tests waste time, cost too much, are culturally biased, have limited value, and don’t teach anything. Why not go back to teacher-made, teacher-graded, and teacher-given tests as an ongoing method of evaluating learning?
Or why not look for a better method of evaluating the effectiveness of teachers—which is what this testing mania is really all about—and quit testing our kids to death?
Wit And Honesty
I thoroughly enjoyed “The Hanging Of Billy Creap” by Marlis Day in your August issue. Her wit and honesty were refreshing. I recalled many of the same kinds of creative play growing up in the 1950s. To critics [“Letters,” October] I say:
- 1. She did say Billy was pesky and should have been in reform school. We can only wonder what he had done to them.
2. She did say she hoped “he didn’t suffer any lasting pain” due to the experience, and she called her friends and herself “cowards.”
3. It was probably one of the best days because she and her friends tried out a new idea and it worked. It was exciting to them.
4. They were only children.
Finally, I say: Lighten up. Read the story to your students; they’ll love it.
Grand Tower, Ill.
Easing The Hurt
I read JoAnne Ruvoli’s letter [“Mad And Hurt”] in your November/December issue, and I want to do something for her. I have been a teacher for 31 years and know how difficult it is to exist on a teacher’s salary.
Soon, I will be retiring, but I know the value of a dedicated young teacher. I also know the value of Teacher Magazine.
For the purpose of easing the hurt and encouraging Anne not to give up, please bill me for her next subscription. Please let her know that there is “no substitution” for a good teacher. Thanks for your excellent publication.
Anne La France
A version of this article appeared in the September 26, 1984 edition of Education Week as Letters