Friday, April 25, 2008

American Education and Faith

TOMORROW is the 25th anniversary of “A Nation at Risk,” a remarkable document that became a milestone in the history of American education — albeit in ways that its creators neither planned, anticipated or even wanted.

In August 1981, Education Secretary T. H. Bell created a National Commission on Excellence in Education to examine, in the report’s words, “the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational system.” Secretary Bell’s expectation, he later said, was that the report would paint a rosy picture of American education and correct all those widespread negative perceptions.

Instead, on April 26, 1983, the commission released a sweeping 65-page indictment of the quality of teaching and learning in American primary and secondary schools couched in a style of apocalyptic rhetoric rarely found in blue-ribbon commission reports.

“The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people,” it warned. “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

The above quote is taken from an opinion piece by Edward B. Fiske entitled A Nation at Loss in the New York Times. The article closes with the following remark:

One of the main ideas enshrined in the document — that quality of schooling is directly linked to economic competitiveness — has also shaped the way Americans think about education. This particular theory, however, hasn’t been borne out by history.

While I would liked to have seen the article lengthened and the author provide specifics in regard to his last line, I submit that in my own life, it wasn't until I came to know the Lord, came to understand education in light of the Lord, and came to understand the purpose and usefulness of education in fulfilling God's purpose in and for my life that education began to be viewed as important important and I personally began to possess a motivation for education along with a view that education was not only needed but essential and critical for me... that education has taken on a whole new and real meaning in my life and that education has begun to mean what it should in my life.

It's not surprising that when education, rather than being cast in light of it's ultimate role and function is cast in light of other reasoning is seen to decline and deteriorate, and mediocrity becomes the common path, for other rationales are more easily set aside and rejected, whereas biblical rationale and reasoning, when properly communicated and received, provides the greatest motivation foundation for education.

May clergy, Christian parents/educators and legislators, take every opportunity and path to help fuel and propagate this educate this type thinking... for the sake not only of American education, but for the poor students who now are like I once was, but could be and become so much that is different!

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