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Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing columns on important issues for today.

What Should
Education Look Like?

January 20, 2014

Last week we discussed the importance and power which comes when the control for educating our children is moved from a centralized government to parents and local officials.  Without federal mandates (e.g., a top down approach) education gets less expensive and more effective.  After all, who knows better what our children need than parents, certainly not policy makers in Washington, DC!

Accordingly, known inefficiencies at the Federal level (approximately 30%) are reduced to 5-10% when control is given to state and local governments and when parents are directly involved, volunteering and working side-by-side with local schools, inefficiencies can drop to near zero!

Clearly, the Federal Department of Education and all Federal legislation relating to Federal involvement in primary and secondary education should be phased out while states rethink policies and grant autonomy to local schools similar to what we reported about New Zealand.   

So what should be taught in our schools?  We believe the most important things that can be taught are the building of an honest character, the ability to think for one’s self, and skills to solve problems.  Learning information, some of which is important, is secondary to developing personal integrity, learning how to think things through and coming to a reasoned conclusion that can be supported by truth.  These skills are basic to maintaining the freedoms in our country.

Subject-wise we would include our own English language and then foreign languages; thoughtful observations from the physical world around us; the sciences including arithmetic, math, physics, chemistry, accounting, finance, geology; a truthful and honest presentation of our nation’s history including our founders beliefs on government; all these should be an integral part of our education.  

Theories about how the earth, the solar system, the universe were formed (e.g., the Big Bang Theory, etc.) should be taught for what they are – THEORIES – not as fact!  The truth is we have a planet named earth.  It is fine-tuned so that it flies through space at just the right speed so it’s not drawn into the sun and destroyed and not too fast so that it flies off into outer space.  We would say this proves the existence of God since the chances of this happening randomly is a highly unlikely occurrence.  Others would say this all happened according to chance. Regardless of that debate, personal commentary should not be introduced into instruction.

We are often asked about allowing prayer in school.  We believe this must be decided locally with the caveat that no individual can ever be forced to participate.  Our Constitution outlines great God-given rights and included in these rights is the freedom of religion.  This freedom includes both the absolute right to believe in God and worship him according to the dictates of our conscience as well as the absolute right not to believe or worship a divine being.  Unduly forcing anyone one way or the other violates this right. 

We would be wise to abolish the Department of Education; give control of education to the parents and local school boards; focus on developing character and the ability to think; and teach fact as fact and theory as theory.

Mark, Bill and John