By Kevin Price, Publisher and Editor in Chief, USDR.
Supporters of liberty are alarmed by the way recent elections have shown that the American people have largely abandoned the values that made this country great. The knee jerk response to this is to spend more time, energy, and resources on better election results. However, our politics are actually a result of what has happened in our education system over the last several generations. Our school systems — driven almost entirely by progressives with a worldview hostile to freedom — has produced political and media leaders that reflect such views. Elections are a lag behind the big forces of change — media, culture, entertainment, and the biggest (in my opinion), education. For decades the American education system has advocated more government, less freedom, and a social order that often opposes the country’s most fundamental values. Is it any surprise that our elections have generated similar results?
Frankly, it has always been a romantic notion to think that government driven schools would create a system that would hold the governing authorities accountable. Education in a free society should be about the development of critical thinking among students in order to hold its government in check. Instead, our education system is more about promoting radical agendas and creating a population that is compliant, rather than independent. How can a people know how to hold government accountable, if the government is teaching the people what it can and cannot do? It is beyond naive to think that such a notion is anything more than fiction. We have tried this for years, but clearly it does not work, as we see a nation that continues to gravitate increasingly to serfdom.
Frankly, it has always been a romantic notion to think that government driven schools would create a system that would hold the governing authorities accountable.
As a result, we need to develop a widespread “private school system” that will instill the best values and philosophies in the form of quality education. This system will need to be different than previous attempts by Christian schools to provide for education. It should not be a means to augment a church’s income, but will be a powerful vehicle to change minds and lives. One of the latent benefits for churches would be that it would become a way to attract new members as people in the community see that such congregations are relevant on a daily basis, reaching the lives of the neighborhoods they are in. It would be important mission work in the communities where these churches exists. I often hear churches talk about how important it is to be relevant. There is nothing churches could do to be more relevant than meeting the education and spiritual needs of the communities in which they exist. People are not looking for contemporary services or multi-purpose gyms, but churches that will profoundly change their lives — every aspect of their lives.
I do not believe this private system needs to be under a single umbrella. In fact, autonomy might make them easier to grow with fewer external encumbrances. However, in order to successfully challenge the government’s stronghold on education, it will be very important for this program to have the following elements.
1) These schools would be affordable to everyone. They would be on a sliding scale and individuals would pay in direct proportion to their ability. For those who cannot afford such schools at all, parents and kids would need to volunteer a certain number of hours to the institution, but no student should be turned down. This would be as much to assure the commitment of the parents as it would anything else. It is imperative that they are very affordable in order to directly compete against government schools.
Elections are a lag behind the big forces of change — media, culture, entertainment, and the biggest (in my opinion), education.
2) They CANNOT be state accredited. Private schools often boast how they are “just like” the government schools in terms of accreditation. Instead of making one excited, it should be a cause of concern. Furthermore, why pay extra for a government curriculum? In addition to costing additional money, state accredited schools lose their academic freedom on many fronts. Our schools would be private and each school could choose its own curriculum. There are many that are complete, comprehensive, and available at no cost. There is a myth that young people cannot go to the most prestigious colleges without a state accredited diploma. Thousands of homes school students prove this is not true everyday at colleges across the country. This is where the battle for the mind must take place — in the curriculum. It must be free from state influence. Those who loathe absolutes and promote propaganda as education, love to see conservatives argue over the treatment of global warming, or evolution, in the textbooks. Why? Because as long as they are fighting that battle, they are not tackling the bigger issues with the government school itself.
3) These schools CANNOT get government funding. The government doesn’t fund anything it cannot also control. This is why schools like Hillsdale College will not even take a government backed loan student and especially won’t take a student with government grants. We must protect the integrity of the schools by being extremely conscientious in how we get funding. Taxpayer dollars should be entirely off limits if we expect these schools to maintain their autonomy.
4) We would work with churches on a massive scale. Most church buildings are largely vacant M-F between 8 to 3, every day. This is terrible stewardship. Some studies indicate that, for every government school building there are three church buildings. That is a significant amount of space. This will be an incredible opportunity for the churches to have a positive impact on the neighborhoods they are in and would have them seen as relevant in the a way they are often not seen today. Furthermore, the major culture shifts in this country are particularly hostile to those of faith, congregations getting involved in education can help stem that tide.
5) The schools need to have similar hours to the government schools. If you told most parents the government schools will be closed permanently starting tomorrow, their first question after where will their children get an education would be, “what will I do with my children?” Schools have become something beyond educational institutions. They take care of students throughout the day. To be competitive, these private schools will have to be aware of that function.
We are told continuously about the importance of competition and disruption in order to make things better, yet we see very little of it in primary or secondary education. However, it is an area where it is most needed.
6) The curriculum would be administered by volunteers and could be at the pace of individual students. One of the biggest costs would be computers, which would be the primary teacher for our students. We would want it to be very cost effective and have it based on easy to administer modules (again, these exist). Teachers would be volunteers and individuals with special skills — math, science, etc., would come in periodically to make sure kids are advancing. There may be a few paid teachers, but not many and these teachers will be there mainly to keep order as the curriculum will be the primary teacher. Most schools would have only a couple of paid personnel, and they would wear several hats — tutor, administrator, etc. These schools would be seen as an actual ministry.
Most likely, most volunteers would be the vast number of home school parents who are teaching their children the best values, but feel their young people will face a hostile world as adults because of the government schools. It is in their interest to help get their neighbor’s children educated.
We are told continuously about the importance of competition and disruption in order to make things better, yet we see very little of it in primary or secondary education. However, it is an area where it is most needed. This private school system is needed and its vision is to reach millions of young people around the country. We must achieve sound teaching in the classroom if we ever hope to restore our country’s greatness and its values. There is a great deal of discussion — very justified — about how government’s attack on guns is harmful to our freedom; what should be equally disconcerting is what they are doing to our liberties in the classroom.
This approach needs to be massive in scale and requires tons of volunteers. We must decide to no longer submit our children to the government’s educational system. I am in the process of developing a guide on developing these schools that includes information on curricula and more. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.