Addressing Student Outcomes in Our State
The latest innovation to address the goal of improving public education is called the Common Core State Standards Initiative, also referred to as “Common Core.” There is room for honest disagreement on its potential, but my view is that Common Core is a decisive, if not calculated, move toward a one-size-fits-all curriculum directed by the federal government. In what may have begun as a state initiative to establish fundamental minimums for a high school education, a monster has been created that removes parents and high quality teachers further from the classroom.
Few educators or parents would disagree that teacher quality is the most important factor in student achievement. In an attempt to realize consistent student outcomes, the Common Core curriculum will instead shackle the potential of our best teachers and hide the deficiencies of our worst. What little remains of the innovation and direct accountability of local control will be lost. Those states making the greatest gains in student outcome are winning with more local control, not less.
Consider the federal government’s removal of prayer and the Bible from public schools in 1962 and 1963. Since the Bible and school prayer were outlawed, America has seen a 694 percent increase in violent crimes, even though crime had been decreasing for decades before 1962. What does history tell us about the significance of the government decree to abandon prayer and the character of scripture?
Allow me to share with you some information regarding the history of the Bible and prayer in our public schools.
- The name of the first education law in America was the Northwest Ordinance Act, which required territories that wanted to become a state to first agree to an education plan that would include teaching religion, morality, and knowledge.
- The founder of public schools under the U.S. Constitution was Dr. Benjamin Rush.
- In 1791, Dr. Rush wrote a document stating that the reason we should start public schools in America is to teach the Word of God.
- In 1791, Dr. Rush wrote a book titled, “Use of the Bible in Schools.” Dr. Rush lists as one of the reasons the Bible should never be removed from America’s schoolrooms, “Because if the Bible is removed, there will be an explosion in crime requiring educators to spend so much time on discipline at the expense of academic education.”
- Phonics and the alphabet taught in the New England Premier were taught by connecting each letter of the alphabet with a rhyming sentence that taught Christian doctrines or Bible verses.
- The following was a question from the 1st Grade New England Premier: What are the benefits that in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification?”
Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions decided by a 6-1 vote in 1962, and an 8-1 vote in 1963, tossed out 171 years of history and documented education success. The United States moved education off the rock of “in God we trust” and onto the sand of “big government knows best.” One look at the results reveals the foolishness of those decisions and exposes the failure of moving control of public education from parents and school boards to government — ever-increasing costs and flat to declining results. It’s time to restore the foundation.
The principles that prepared extraordinary leaders and established this country as the greatest on earth are no longer legal or politically correct; the government forbids us to teach these quality values in public schools. Now, the government that took prayer and the Bible out of public schools threatens to take over the curriculum that remains via “Common Core.” Somewhere, we have taken the wrong path and are going in the wrong direction. As parents, we must once again take charge of the education of our children. The fundamentals of right and wrong, good character, and honest principles that are universal and absolute must be laid as a foundation before wrapping ourselves in the trappings of education for knowledge’s sake. What we know doesn’t help until we know right from wrong.
Even within the confines of postmodern government, some states are showing progress in reduced dropout rates, improved test scores, and other positive student outcomes. We are studying those states and hope to adopt the reforms that can be adapted to Missouri schools. Your prayers and suggestions are welcome; without them, we are likely to fail. We cannot allow this to happen — if we fail, our children and grandchildren would likely follow suit. We need to build for them a bright future in which they can learn, grow, and prosper in our good country.
I appreciate you reading this Legislative Report, and please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions.
Thank you and God bless.