Saturday, January 03, 2009

Editorial Comment on Home-Schooling and the Dilapidated State of Public Education

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[CassTech.jpg]

Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit: my alma mater

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Here I was responding on the CHNI forum to the usual horror stories about public schools and defended our own choice to home-school our children, while calling at the same time for Christian citizens to do something about the horrifying decline of public education.

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Even keeping one's child away from public school dances is not complete protection. For at least fifteen years girls' drill teams and cheerleading squads have been including raunchy pelvic thrusts in their performances during daytime pep rallies and at evening sporting events. Sometimes I felt the whole world had gone mad. Mothers and fathers sat there watching daughters, twelve to seventeen, in public simulations of very private behavior, as if nothing unusual had happened. To my knowledge there were no outcries from pastors or priests. Satan has been incredibly successful in blinding "good church folk" and persuading them to tolerate public indecency performed by their own daughters. And, of course, I haven't even mentioned the lyrics of the songs played in such pep rallies while the bumping and grinding takes place. I used to wish the lyrics were printed off and all the adults present were forced to look at each other and read them aloud. Would the scales fall then? I don't know.

Atrocious stuff. That was an entire catalogue (just in the dancing / modesty areas alone) of several excellent reasons why we home school. My children (17, 15, 12, 7) are completely immune from all this nonsense and have far better morals about sexual matters than I did at their same ages. I'm so proud of them, and they are model case studies of the fruit of removing harmful peer pressure influences.

The more these public schools go to pot, perhaps people will rise up and demand reform, or else reject the system altogether and decide to home-school.

Having worked in a public middle school for eleven years, I concur with everything [name] said. I don't know exactly when it started, but there has been a drastic change in the behavior of cheerleaders and dance teams. [Name] wondered why these parents sit in the stands and watch? I would say the parents have very little if any say in the choreography. The sponsor or director is trying to compete with other schools and goes along with the prevailing "moves" and even tries to outdo them. Music videos on MTV are probably watched to see the latest moves. It is a huge status symbol to be a cheerleader, and most Moms and some Dads will go along with the status-quo, or succumb to the crying and pouting of dd if they suggest she shouldn't join the team.

Actually, I did not wonder why the parents sat in the stands and watched their daughters gyrate seductively. I knew why. They are cowards, moral cowards. They have made a decision to fail their children in the most serious way. If the principals and coaches will not provide dance and cheering teams without raunchy moves and godless lyrics, parents need to prohibit participation in those activities. A husband and father has to be willing to deal with the wrath of his worldly, shallow wife (whom he should never have married in the first place--did he really want such a person setting the example for his children?) when she begins teaching her daughter to use her body to win popularity and attract male attention. I'd like to take a switch to some mothers I dealt with who took vicarious pleasure in seeing boys ogle their daughters, who argued with an assistant principal, "Her skirts are NOT too short. Her tops are NOT too low. It's the same stuff I wear myself!" Meanwhile, wimpy Dad, tired of hearing Mom complain that the crazy school dress code is spoiling little daughter's fun, begs the assistant principal to be less strict in formulating dress codes. (BTW--our dress code was in alignment with area schools and was not, by any means, oppressive.) It's peace at any price. Don't want to stand up to the daughter. Don't want to stand up to the wife. Moral cowardice.

You're exactly right. Bravo! It always goes back to the parents. We are the generation who raised this generation of kids. Do we expect them to learn good Christian behavior and attitudes by osmosis? They either receive a good Christian, moral education, or they follow whatever is prevalent in the culture, and we all know what that is.

The "greatest generation": the WWII crowd, failed in raising their children, which brought us the Sexual revolution, abortion, feminism, homosexual activism, and all the rest of the rotgut that mostly began in the 60s, and now the Baby Boomers (my generation) are passing down even worse morals to their children. Only revival can turn the tide now.

Let's all pray for persecution or for God's judgment to begin, so that Christians can wake up and start doing their job right.

Dave, you said your children "are completely immune from all this nonsense." They may be right now, but the day is coming when they will go out into the real world, and be living side by side with the children who sadly have become so accustomed to seeing this that it is the normal way to behave for them.

They're in the real world. They play in the local parks and are fully aware of the lifestyles and language involved, and have friends who go to public schools. But they are removed from a relentless daily influence of that in the schools (and from network TV, etc.), so that they are "outside" of the junk without being isolated from the world (precisely as it should be: "be in the world but not of it").

If this is the usual objection to home-schooling, that the kids are too isolated and lack socialization (perhaps you didn't mean to imply that), it won't work. We don't teach them to put their heads in the sand and to be monks (without that calling); only to avoid sin and the tendency to become sheep (as I did, growing up: I was a model, card-carrying, secularist, knee-jerk liberal: a perfect reflection of all the non-Christian influences around me).

They are intensely involved in their youth group and just today, went down to a well-known soup kitchen in Detroit, to help. That's the real world. They do mission activities. My oldest goes to the National Right to Life march in Washington, D.C. every year. You can't get more "real world" than childkilling. I wasn't even educated on the issue or pro-life till I was 23 years old, and strongly committed to Christianity for five years.

We live in a working-class lower-scale suburb right outside Detroit, which is the real world. My children see the broken homes all around us. They see what happens. Their three best friends in the neighborhood are all from broken homes. One of them saw his mother die from cancer, and then his father split. They have observed close-up what happens to children when parents get divorced (as happened to my wife's best friend, who is Protestant). Awful "real world" . . .

But home-schooling works, and is working on a large scale. We've seen many dozens of examples of home-schooled kids. The difference is palpable. What it is, is simply returning the children to a normal upbringing. Even teenagers don't "have" to act a certain way, as if it is completely unavoidable. That is a learned cultural thing. Things have gotten out of hand, and Christians need to take a stand.

It is good that your children will have the morals ingrained in them to resist this behavior. But none of us are immune to the world that is going to be led by these children when they are adults.


They are as well-prepared to go out into that world as they can be, and to help transform it, rather than being molded and corrupted by it. And that was our job as parents, and of all Christian parents: to produce disciples who can help revive this degenerate culture we all live in.

I hasten to add that I am not legalistic about everyone having to home-school. No. That would be silly, unrealistic, and uncharitable. I think it is the best option and I strongly believe in it, but not everyone can do it, for various reasons. I do believe it is absolutely required for every Christian parent to provide Christian and moral education for their children. They won't get either in the public schools, so parents have to supplement that. It's our Christian duty.

We have several dear friends who are teachers or otherwise involved in education (we were with some of them on New Year's Day). And they teach their kids Catholicism. More power to them. I greatly admire public school teachers who do their job well. They're some of my favorite people on earth. But overall, the system has broken down, and I think that home-schooling is the best, most risk-free way of raising children today, save for an extraordinary local school or good Catholic or Protestant school that is available and affordable. For us, affording a private school was out of the question, so it was either public or home-schooling, and that was an easy choice.

To put a child in a public school today is to subject him or her to all kinds of negative peer pressure influences. They will be at risk. There are casualties in every high-risk situation. Our children could be among them, no matter how great of a job we may be doing as parents. Whoever denies that has their head in the sand, not the home-schooler or home-schooled kids.

In fact, much of the perception we have gained of the public school situation has come precisely from our friends who are involved in it, either teaching or subbing or tutoring or working in the lunchroom (my wife's sister), or sad reports like the ones above that are well-nigh universal. No one in the public school system that we know is coming to us with enthused, glowing reports of how marvelous it is. It's patently obvious, academically and morally (even socially) that home-schooling is infinitely superior to that.

I had an excellent (albeit thoroughly secular) education in older working class neighborhood (southwest) and downtown sections of Detroit, from 1963-1976. Since that time it has almost almost completely broken down, and I hear that there is a 25% graduation rate in Detroit Public Schools. Music and art curricula are severely threatened, which is one reason I'm helping raise funds for my high school (see below), because I was involved in that (trombone in the symphony band and symphony orchestra), and it was a wonderful experience.

The state of public education is an issue that every citizen has a responsibility to be concerned about. As a citizen and a Catholic, it is my responsibility to see that poor children in the inner cities get some semblance of an education. Liberal policies have brought about both the destruction of normal education and the breakdown of the family (especially in the inner-city and the African -American community), but we are our brother's keeper. It's our task to find a way to reverse this abominable trend. So, although I reject public education as the best option available for my children, I must be concerned, in love, with the fate of other children: especially those from poor and dysfunctional families.

And I am helping to some extent, my own public high school: the best in Detroit (Cass Technical High School), by helping plan reunion activities that will bring funds into the school, and using a travel agent that donates some of its proceeds to the school. We joined our music reunion activities (that I initiated) into the annual fundraising pancake breakfast, so that the admission prices of all of our music alumni can add up to as much as $6000 or more, depending on our numbers attending. That's doing something. So although my kids wouldn't go there (if they still lived in Detroit), if we had the choice, I am still helping the children of others. This is Catholic social awareness and concern for the larger society.

Nothing will change if all we do is sit on our butts and moan and groan about how bad things (assuredly) are in our society. We have to do something. Voting is one way, but America has naively chosen more liberalism and big government and secularism and anti-traditionalism: the very thing that has gotten us into this mess. Despite that obstacle, we can do much more on the local level to try to reform education and the morals and worldviews of young people: our own children and the children of others, who are God's children and who deserve the best that our society can give them.

2 comments:

Long Time coming said...

I would love to purchase this picture. My boyfriend graduated from Cass Tech in the 70"s and this would be a perfect picture for his office. Does anyone know how I could get in touch with the photographer to purchase it? my email sweetie.pie.2@live.com Thank you

Dave Armstrong said...

I just got it off the Internet. It might have been from the Wikipedia article. Just search Google Images. You'll probably find it.