Friday, June 29, 2007

American Education: A Research Project

I've decided to embark on a research project on the state of American education. My question is what is the state of education in America and (as I confirm it's as bad as I suspect) as Christians, what should our response be? I'm collecting all kinds of articles on different aspects. So if anyone wants to send me links, I will appreciate it.
Also, as mentioned on this blog before, a line I heard recently about the public schools being the greatest mission field keeps resonating in my brain. Even though I must confess I doubt the abundance of such, I'm going to be on the lookout for any great mission stories. I'm looking for stories of Christian students who have an effect on their schools. In fact, even any success stories of children going through the system without loosing their faith, virginity, closeness with their families, love of learning, etc. will be welcome finds. When I do become aware of these students, I would love to interview them and find the secrets to their success. Maybe it could help others who are struggling but determined to stay in the governmental school system.
My first reading on the topic is John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education. You can read this book online. For those of you not familiar with Mr. Gatto he was a teacher for 30 years and awarded New York's Teacher of the Year award. His assessments and observations are not pleasant to say the least. I've been in tears all morning while reading his writings. Sometimes it's painful to open your eyes to the larger world around you and see what you are sheltered from, but I believe it's our duty to face reality and then decide on a Christian response.
On a trip I recently listened to Focus on the Family's radio theatre of Amazing Grace, a set of three different biographies of the main characters in the Amazing Grace movie. The one that inspired me the most was the story of Olaudah Equiano, a former slave. He took upon himself the unpleasant task of making people face what was really going on around them, a task that does not bring popularity. People don't want their comfort disturbed. When they wanted to whitewash what was happening, Mr. Equiano held the truth up for them to see. He forced them to look. I see a lot of correlations between what was taking place then, and what is happening now. I prayed that God would help us to be as brave.
It's easy to look back on issues of the past and see what seemingly blind people could not see. We might wonder how people could have tolerated the injustices that seem so clear to us. How many issues do we have in our society today that future generations will look on and wonder how we tolerated them. Will our system of "education" be one of them?
It is often tempting, as a homeschooler, to just live defensively. "We just want to be left alone." I remember a visit with a state senator years ago and he admonished us to leave off that attitude and push for more. Then recently our pastor preached about living offensively. Hearing that sermon and Equiano's story have got me thinking, a thinking that is leading to a desire to be "doing". May God raise up more Mr. Equianos and Mr. Gattos.


Alicia said...

I think that I am perhaps the sort of public school student that you are wanting to hear from. Well, I am a former public school student. I graduated 5 years ago. I made it through public school without loosing my faith in God, my virginity, my closeness to my family, or my love of learning. I hope that I was able to positively influence my non-Christian friends. I could go into more detail about my experience, if you'd like, when I have more time.You can email me at

MamaLion said...

Hi Alicia.

I've emailed you and look forward to hearing your story.

Henry Cate said...

For an overall review of the problems with public schools in the United States I think "Inside American Education" by Thomas Sowell is the best.