For those who believe that the current methods, behaviors and (non)achievement in the schools are counterproductive, even destructive…as Eliza expressed in My Fair Lady…”just you wait!”
Most schools have yet to reach the bottom, but the slide is steeply sloped for rapid descent. Putting faith in government entities to stop and turn the tide of academic and cultural decay would be akin to asking one bully with a few buddies to stop a runaway freight train. It just will not happen while the current curricula, attitudes, and philosophies are in place.
“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must firstcultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”
The wisdom in this advice is awesome. All change must begin at the level of individuals and families. As these levels are put in order, the foundation will be prepared so that attention can be shifted on to the problems of the next level. Mandates from DC will do nothing to repair persons and families, and without that base, government directives will have the same outcome as spitting in the wind.
- “Parents send their children to school not ready to learn.”
- “It wouldn’t hurt the parents to read a few books to the kids before they send them to school!”
- “The children don’t even know their colors! The parents could at least teach those before sending the kids to school.”
- “These children have no experience base at all. I doubt that the parents have exposed them to anything before sending them to school.”
- “The parents can’t even read!”
- “The parents, living off welfare as they do, have plenty of time to work with these kids before sending them to school knowing nothing!”
As legislated plans fail to bring order, academic focus, and honest achievement to education, the blame for the escalating problems is deflected onto the parents. Complaints become more numerous; accusations more specific. The blaming; the shaming, the complaints, directed to parental defects, basically accuse the family of being the root cause of failure in the schools.
Actually, there is truth in these charges, although there are points of defense, as well.
In the 1970’s, I took three classes from a very favorite professor at Eastern Michigan University. He provided his students with wonderful insights about children, parents, people in general. He warned us not to automatically blame parents. He believed that: “Every parent has done the best that they could at that point of time in their lives. If they could have done better, they would have. I have never met a person whose goal in life was to grow up and become a bad parent.”
Throughout my decades in education, his advice has served me well. I have found his description to generally fit most cases, and I have tried to be patient with parents; to teach them parenting skills whenever I have been given opportunities to do so.
However, as I observed the destruction of: individuals; families; culture; schools; government — I began to question the relevance of using a blanket excuse in today’s culture. I began to evaluate the situation as I taught history…backwards! Too often it is difficult for children of NOW to relate to information of THEN, so I taught the events and decisions that took place in the 1990’s, then moved back to the 1980’s and so on. I would ask students to consider, “What happened in the 80’s that would have brought about, or led to “x” outcome in the 90’s?” Cause à Effect.
In assessing parental issues in the same manner, we should, if we have not already done so, ask “What events took place in America during prior years that might have caused so many of today’s parents to fail their children, either by default; or by choice?”
It is easy for independent, self-sufficient Americans to answer the question, but difficult for dependent parents, while it appears to be downright impossible for distribute-the-wealth humanitarians and legislators to even fathom.
The problematic effect — too many Americans existing in poverty, ignorance and illiteracy — was certainly caused by government intervention into families. The Caretaker-State has violated the role of families, and destroyed family unity and autonomy by usurping parental roles: of the providers by offering welfare checks and food stamps; of the mothers by offering Headstart, TV, daycare and excuses. Caretaker-State has, through its educational philosophies that assure illiteracy and dependency, destroyed opportunities that families and individuals once had: to set goals; to work hard to achieve them; to see achievement as a source of great personal pride; to use achievement as a step up from poverty into a more rewarding future.
State decisions would often be funny, were they not so destructive to American families and ultimately to America, itself. Irony is lost on legislation-pushers. For instance, as greater numbers of Michigan families became dependent on the State, Michigan changed the name of social services to “The Family Independence Agency.” I wondered if I might be the only one whose jaw dropped in shock the first time I heard the new label…but I don’t want to know. The answer might be too alarming.
The first and most important step in halting the disintegration of America is for individuals and families to be put in order, but the State does everything to prevent this from happening. High levels of taxation force both parents to work, keeping them away from their children, stealing time once sacred for attending to parental responsibilities. Too many parents have put their cravings for consumer goods above any desires to provide their children with excellent educational opportunities. The public schools push increasing numbers of unskilled, unprepared, uneducated young people out into society (with and without a meaningless diploma) — individuals too damaged to properly begin, support, and lead families. Welfare programs lure such damaged individuals into discarding all thoughts of autonomy, while encouraging them to just relax and let the State provide.
In every scenario the children pay the price — of high taxes, of welfare benefits, of TVs in every room/cars for every driver/gadgets for every whim. At this most important individual level, harm rather than healing is constantly taking place in an ever-growing number of families.
It is imperative that parents take stock of their families, develop plans for putting everything to right, then set out to accomplish those goals. The responsibility, and the power rest with parents. No one and nothing else can do that for them.
Increasingly parents will be blamed, and…if the shoe fits, parents need to wear it. However, such parents owe their children much more and must act to reduce and hopefully eliminate the reasons behind the censure. Fathers must decide to love and marry women who are wise enough to postpone parenting until two-parent homes are firmly in place. Fathers need to become forward-looking role models and providers. Parents must put all things right again.
Parents must assume responsibility for the educations of their children, even when that means the best decision is to temporarily reduce their standard of living so one parent can be available to homeschool. Parents who are parenting with wisdom can encourage and model for others. Churches can offer parenting classes. Citizens can organize classes for community members in need of guidance and support so that they, too, can take back, lead, and heal their families. Families, neighbors and friends can work together to put things right at the familial level. After that has been accomplished the culture can turn its attention to the nation.
This will be a slow process, but it is the point at which we must start in order to put the nation right, returning it to the original intentions of the Founding Fathers. THEY knew the kind of country this was meant to be, as does U.S. Representative Ron Paul…but I have serious doubts about most legislators across the land.
Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] is an educational consultant, homeschooling mom, and public school special ed teacher. She is available for presentations, inservices, and workshops.