East Prairie School in Skokie, Illinois finds itself in the eye of a storm or at least a tempest in a tea pot. I would love to see more public schools caught in such tempests of their own making. Public school administrators tend to respond to only three things:
- Loss of funds
- A huge community outcry
- Bad press—particularly national press
That’s why pro-family organizations need to publish more exposés of school issues, using the names of teachers who are exploiting their taxpayer-subsidized jobs to promote their non-factual moral and political beliefs through their classroom comments, curricular and supplemental resources, and activities. But I digress.
A fourth-grade teacher in Skokie distributed an assignment recently that was purportedly intended merely to explain the functions of government. Sounds reasonable enough. The problem is that the assignment compares the functions of government to the functions of family. Perhaps the teacher didn’t think through the ideological implications of the questions posed in the assignment, in which case he or she deserves a measure of tolerance. And perhaps in the future other teachers will learn from this teacher’s mistake.
Here are the questions that ten year-olds were asked:
- How does your family keep you safe?
- How does the government keep its citizens safe?
- How does your family keep you healthy?
- How does the government keep its citizens healthy?
- How does your family help you learn and become educated?
- How does the government help its citizens learn and become educated?
- What kind of rules does your family have for you?
- What kind of rules does government have for its citizens?
- How does your family punish you when you break the rules?
- How does government punish citizens who break the law?
This assignment reminds many that our government is becoming an unbecoming family composed of Uncle Sam, Big Brother, Nanny, and Mommy and Daddy, all rolled into one colossal icky ball of goo from which it’s difficult to extricate oneself.
And this assignment reveals a number of troubling realities about public education:
- It reveals the supreme place many “educators” assume for the role of government in the lives of citizens—a role that they believe at least equals if not supersedes that of family.
- It reveals the willingness of “educators” to use public schools to propagate their non-factual beliefs.
- It reveals the inconvenient truth that many of our “educators” are not deep thinkers. Even as teachers present assignments that embody or tacitly espouse profoundly consequential ideas, they often have little understanding of these ideas.
There is no disputing the fact that the government protects its citizens, helps keep citizens healthy, educates citizens, establishes behavioral rules (i.e., laws), and establishes penalties for rule-breaking. These questions reinforce—intentionally or not—the false belief that government has co-equal rights with the family, a false belief that has taken root in public schools.
Many teachers see themselves as the arbiter of moral and political truth and feel no compunction about inculcating other people’s children with their beliefs—all in the service of their notions of safety, health and education. This assignment brings to mind MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s startling statement that “we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to their communities.”
Couldn’t the Skokie teacher have taught the functions of government without a comparison to family? Did he or she think about whether there were any ideological implications of comparing government to family? Would it have been a more useful exercise to encourage children to understand the differences between family and government, pointing out the superiority of family to provide for children’s safety, health, education, training, and discipline?
Unlike the government, mothers and fathers—to whom children really belong—love their children with an ineffable love so deep that they would lay down their lives for their children. Mothers and fathers work diligently and ceaselessly—without pay, I might add—toward the ultimate goal of developing self-sufficiency, responsibility, selflessness, and compassion in their children. Many parents seek to fill the God-shaped vacuum created in their children with a knowledge and love of God that will lead their children to seek to glorify God in all they do.
Many parents seek to teach their children about the proper purpose of their sexuality in order to lead their children in the direction of true human flourishing. Mothers and fathers teach their children through word and deed that “gender” is inextricably linked to biological sex, both of which are beautiful gifts from a loving God. Mothers and fathers teach through word and deed how women and men should think about and treat each other. Mothers and fathers teach their children that through conjugal unions new human lives come into being. Mothers and fathers teach their children that when sperm and egg unite, a new human life begins, complete with its own distinct genetic code. Further, they teach their children that this new life possesses by virtue of its human nature certain unalienable rights, chief among which is the right to live.
Mothers and fathers teach their children truth—including countercultural truth—for it’s only truth that can keep children truly safe and free. Real safety depends not just on exposure to facts, but on protection from exposure to inappropriate facts about an often perverse world. Real safety depends on understanding that not all powerful persistent feelings are morally legitimate to act upon. And real safety depends on understanding essential truths about eternity.
It can be reasonably argued that in many ways our government actually undermines the safety, health, and education of its citizens, and in the case of the current administration, undermines respect for the rule of law.
Yes, there are more differences between government and family than there are similarities, and children deserve to be taught those critical differences.
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