Archives for the month of: September, 2016

                         us-is-not-a-christian-nation

 A new poll  states that 83% of Americans are Christians. In one of my recent blogs I pose “Is The Trump Phenomena Blowback From Our Liberal Political Correctness?”. Are conservatives pushing back from a minority that is dictating the laws and values (or lack thereof) that guide them? This new conservative movement coined as the Alt-Right is a new, uglier version of values based on the tenets of Christianity. It is religion used as justification for hate mongering taken to a new level.

I was shocked to hear a major TV pastor throw his support for Trump as the candidate that would preserve Christianity, and ebb the encroachment of liberal values in America. I am reminded of Hitler’s rallying cry “Gott Mit Uns”-“God Is With Us”.  This is surely an adulteration of the teachings of Christ.

How did we-a Christian nation- reach the point that we need to have an atomic reaction (metaphorically speaking) in order to “restore America” to its Christian values? I write about this in more detail in Entitlement And The Christian Right . I am afraid that this has happened because we were so “comfortable” in the blessings and prosperity of a “Christian America” that we let down our guard and allowed the “foxes in the garden” as Solomon talks about in Song of Solomon from the Bible.

This “blowback” may not be so much as a desire to return America to Christ as it is a desire for an easier life. We are like the Israelites before the Babylonian exile:

 How terrible for you who sprawl on ivory beds

    and lounge on your couches,

eating the meat of tender lambs from the flock

    and of choice calves fattened in the stall.

You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp

    and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David.

You drink wine by the bowlful

    and perfume yourselves with fragrant lotions.

    You care nothing about the ruin of your nation.[b] Amos 6:4-6

One of the areas that has been affected by the rule of minority values in America is our public school system. 

As a child, I remember when school started with prayer and the inclusion of “under God” in the pledge of Allegiance.  Although the theory of evolution was brought to light in 1859 in Darwin’s “Origin of Species” it did was not mandated to be taught in public schools until the 1960’s.  Creationism was banned from public schools in 1987.

Although there are laws to protect religious freedom in schools, there are continuing incidents of organizations being banned and teachers being sanctioned for heading these organizations on school campuses. Separation of church and state is the main justification for these occurrences.  Historically the purpose of this highly valued statement was to protect freedom of religion, not inhibit it, as it does now.

Laws have been passed in California to mandate the teaching of LGBT History in schools.  California has also passed a law that forbids parents from opting out of vaccinations for their children for religious or philosophical reasons.

One law at a time Christianity has been banned from our public schools in a country where 83% of its inhabitants claim to adhere to its beliefs.  The result of this has been a rise in the numbers of white Americans leaving the public school system. For economic reasons, districts have implemented charter schools as an attempt to retain these students. Voucher systems and tax credits support a parent’s right to educate their children in a religious setting in spite of the legal opposition that these programs face.

One of the reasons that I chose private Christian education for my child was that I felt that character development was as important as academics.  A Christian school educates children about ethics, values and morality based on the teachings of the Bible.

I thought it was interesting, that in a presentation I heard at a charter school in Denver, they shared with us a code of ethics that they expected their students to adhere to:

The six DSST Core Values are Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Courage, Curiosity and Doing Your Best. They are the foundation of Byers and are an active part in the daily lives of each community member. Visitors to our community most often remark that the values are not simply words on walls but are tangibly lived by students, staff, and families at DSST: Byers.

Perhaps this is an example of how Christian morality and values may be reappearing in public schools, although with a humanistic rather than religious basis.

If public schools are really serious about retaining students, perhaps it is time to consider a Christian charter school. I can already hear the uproar and numerous legal violations.  It is interesting to note that the first public schools in America  were started to teach children their protestant religion.  It was the influx of Catholics from Ireland that prompted Blaine laws that have stymied the support of religious schools with public funds.

Now that there is an Alt-Right movement in America, the silent majority is silent no more.  The knee-jerk reaction to the influx of liberal values in our laws are reaching a point that adherents to conservative values can no longer live the life of ease and comfort they once enjoyed.  They are making themselves heard. Will American schools be returned to a safe haven for Christianity and not an enemy to it?

I pray that there are few casualties as this movement gains momentum.  I pray that American Christians are more concerned about elevating Christ than protecting their rights.

Let our cause not be about preserving or returning to a life of ease and safety but let our cause be about loving a lost world for Christ.

“When did we start believing God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? That playing it safe is safe? That radical is anything but normal? Jesus didn’t die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous. Faithfulness is not holding the fort. It’s storming the gates of hell. The will of God is not an insurance plan. It’s a daring plan. And the complete surrender of your life to the cause of Christ isn’t radical. It’s normal. It’s time to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.”

—Mark Batterson, Author, Lead Pastor National Community Church, “Are You All In?”

                              school-choice-art

 

 

A growing number of Americans are concerned about the increase of government intrusion in their lives. One area that this is undeniable is in our National system of education.  In years past there was more autonomy allowed by states, local districts and even schools within districts.  Flexibility was allowed and parents had a voice in curriculum, discipline and school policies for their children’s education.

Today’s PTA’s are mainly fundraising organizations for our schools’ over-tapped budgets. In years past they were as powerful as the School Boards. As laws continue to increase determining more and more aspects of our system of education, the power of parental involvement has been allocated to legislators. Laws have been made to eliminate school prayer, eliminate religious extra-curricular clubs from campuses, and Federal Laws are forcing a National Curriculum called the Common Core. California recently passed a law that prevents exemption from vaccinations for philosophical or religious reasons for public school children.

For these reasons and others, parents are opting out of traditional public education and looking for alternatives.

Between fall 2003 and fall 2013, the number of White students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools decreased from 28.4 million to 25.2 million, and the percentage who were White decreased from 59 to 50 percent.  NCES

Milton Friedman, one of this country’s biggest advocates for liberty was at the forefront of the school choice movement long before the tentacles of government involvement had reached their current levels. Along with his wife Rose, he formed the Friedman Foundation in 1996 to promote parental choice in education.  Of this he said, “Our goal is to have a system in which every family in the U.S. will be able to choose for itself the school to which its children go. We are far from that ultimate result. If we had that – a system of free choice – we would also have a system of competition, innovation, which would change the character of education.”

The options available for school choice vary by state. 40% of states offer some kind of school choice outside the public school system.  Within the public school system charter schools and magnet schools offer somewhat of a “choice” with specialized programs that can address issues such as educating the ESL population through special curriculum. Charter and magnet schools can offer an emphasis of focused learning for the Arts, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to prepare students for further education and careers in these fields.

These charter schools are so attractive academically that some parents who have homeschooled their children for religious reasons are choosing them as a better option to prepare them for college.

 School Choice is not an issue for America’s 1%.  With wealth comes choices for the best education regardless of the price through private institutions. Providing school choice for parents in America is really about levelling the field for education equality  amid the growing chasm of income inequality. Proof of this is that it is the economically privileged white population that is exiting public education.

 Homeschooling  is on the rise, with an increasingly more diverse demographic, as an inexpensive alternative for lower income families. Education Savings Accounts are available in some states to assist families that homeschool to offset expenses such as books, and online education programs.

 In an effort to recapture per student government funding, some districts are creating programs and on- line courses to facilitate homeschooled students.  Charter schools are being created for just this purpose both in the private and public education sector.

Voucher programs can make it possible for economically challenged families to provide a superior education that could help their children to break the cycle of poverty. The Blaine Laws are an obstacle in the voucher program because they consider using tax money for religious schools to be a violation of separation of church and state.  It could be argued that taxpayers should have a say in the distribution of their own money regardless of religious affiliation.

Intra and inter-district transfers are another way to level the education playing field for disadvantaged minorities. Studies  show that lower income districts underperform higher income districts. Often the registration process in districts is so complicated, that though transfers are possible, many do not take advantage of them. Many states  do not allow transfers or limit them to a very small percentage.  It takes a pro-active program to reach out to underprivileged families to make them aware of what choices are available to them.

It is interesting to see the small percentage of those who take advantage of school choice in states where it is available. It would make one conclude that there is a lack of awareness and/or an overly complicated application process that prevents parents from utilizing them. School voucher and Personal Tax credit options seem to be the most utilized of the choice options.

The ability to enroll children in the school of choice is a fundamental parental right.  In a country that promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness- it must be guarded.  Education equality could be the first step in the road to income equality throughout our nation.  School choice is the vehicle that makes it possible.