Purpose of Education
“I am a sophomore in the Parkway School District. My classes are saturated with liberal agenda, and my school has become a toxic environment for conservative students. Those with conservative values and support President Trump are suppressed by the hostility of liberal students and staff. Social justice warriors influence what we learn and the way teachers deliver it.”
Near the end of January, I attended the Education Policy Conference (EPC) in St. Louis, an event presented annually by the Constitutional Coalition. Speakers varied from Jesse Watters of Fox News to Michael Medved and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Missouri speakers included a parent and a student from Parkway School District in Chesterfield. In addition to the quotation above, the student quoted two sentences from his AP World History textbook. The first was from page 417:
“In 630, Muhammad triumphantly and peacefully entered Mecca itself, purging the Kaaba of its idols and declaring it a shrine to one God, Allah.” He also quoted from page 559: “Columbus was a perpetrator of genocide … a slave trader, a thief, a pirate, and most certainly not a hero.”
The high school sophomore announced that he is considering a degree in history and education “so I can teach the truth.” If you have wondered why some fear there is more indoctrination than education in Missouri classrooms, this may demonstrate why that sentiment exists.
The EPC addressed a variety of issues that have contributed to the cultural revolution developing in both state and nation. Conference topics examined how education in Missouri’s schools is impacting these issues either positively or negatively. For example, a parent at Parkway High School read from a test given to students as part of a two week study of Islam and gave me a copy of the test. Here are the questions: 1) What is the difference between Islam and Muslim? 2) Who is Allah? 3) Who is Muhammad? 4) How did Islam begin? 5) What are the five pillars of Islam? 6) What is Sharia? 7) Why do Muslims face Mecca when they pray? 8) Who are the Sunni and Shia? 9) Why is Islam in the news? It was reported that this was supposedly part of a study of religions. However, after a full two weeks on Islam, there was one week of “self-study” assigned to Catholicism and no days for Judaism. You have your own opinion, but to me that smacks of indoctrination rather than education. Do these teachers know the cultural significance of why mail is not delivered on Sunday in the U.S., not delivered on Saturday in Israel, and not delivered on Friday in Islamic countries?
Is it time for Missourians to question the content of “education” and revisit its purpose? In addressing the purpose of education, Kevin Gwaltney, the Executive Director of the Missouri General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Education (JCED) said this: “…Thomas Jefferson believed that people are fundamentally social and that the societies they create continuously evolve. Thus, he believed that citizens have political duties and that education is critical for the execution of those duties. Jefferson wrote ‘If the condition of man is to be progressively ameliorated, as we fondly hope and believe, education is to be the chief instrument in effecting it.’ … Jefferson would agree that the individual’s purpose for education is to improve his or herself – but just as importantly he would assert that an individual must also use education to effectively participate in society. Jefferson believed educated individuals are so essential to the republic that he said to George Washington – ‘Wherever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.’
“So how about education’s societal purpose? Aristotle and Plato posited that the ultimate or overarching purpose of education is to reinforce, inculcate and re-inculcate the institutions, traditions and values a society considers essential for the protection and reproduction of the prevailing order. If one accepts this notion then, as Jefferson suggested, education becomes as important to society as it is to the individual because it becomes indispensable to society’s ability to reproduce itself and thus exist. This philosophy lends powerful and important insights – especially at a time when the basic precepts and tenets (e.g. capitalism, individualism, liberty, religion, patriotism, heroism definition of family, interpretation of history) that have undergirded American society for generations are being at least questioned – and if substantial segments of the population hold divergent and possibly incompatible views of what social order should be, then it must also be so that the lessons being offered in the nation’s classrooms no longer concur with a single set of common values. With the preceding in mind, the question of education’s purpose and moreover – education’s consequence – takes on serious significance…” If you’d like a copy of Dr. Gwaltney’s complete essay or his biography, please contact my office.
Last week, the Senate began debate on Senate Bill 612 that, if passed, could get parents more involved in the content and delivery of their children’s education and help them address any fear of indoctrination. Senate Bill 612 would enable a few Missouri families to employ Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for their children. The bill was on the floor for about four hours and was laid over. It will be debated further in the future and hopefully will be passed to provide new opportunities for the students affected. Five states currently have ESA’s and parental satisfaction exceeds 70 percent. Even though SB 612 is budget capped and only applies to special needs students, foster children and military families, it will meet the needs of families that have been frustrated by the lack of education options.
Finally, on a different note, the Department of Revenue has announced a new system to allow tax payers to get automatic alerts whenever the status of their tax return changes. You can sign up to receive text or email alerts. You will need your social security number, filing status and anticipated refund amount or balance due. To sign up, just go to dor.mo.gov/returnstatus/.
Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. We welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.