Education was once a very noble profession, in fact the best. So where did we get off base? We got off base when the National Education Association ceased to be a professional association which sought to improve education, to one that simply lobbied for more money for teachers.
Education hearkens back to the great philosophers of the past. Men like Aristotle and Plato are just historical examples of men whose goal was to educate all those who would listen. The Founders of America were well acquainted with the works of these great men and many of their ideas were included in our founding documents. Even Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, was the architect of the University of Virginia, and first rector of the Board of Visitors (the governing body). This was in March of 1819.
Historically education was the job of parents. The apostle Paul, a Jewish Pharisee, was trained in the Jewish tradition, (Acts 22:3). Later, after he was saved on the Road to Damascus, he was taught be Jesus, Himself (1 Corinthians 15:8, Galatians 1:12). In fact, the apostle Paul did not consider himself very important as a teacher. He called himself “the least of the apostles” because he persecuted Christians (1 Corinthians 15:9).
The Jewish tradition made it clear that it was not the duty of the priesthood, or the chief executive, the king, (or the president) but it was the duty of parents to educate their children. The Jewish parent was taught that the word of God was to be paramount in their teaching and they were to “teach them diligently unto thy children” and bind them “as frontlets between thine eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:7-8).
In the Christian tradition the apostle Paul taught that fathers had the chief responsibility in the education of their children, for we read: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
In early America there were no public schools, but every parent understood that they were to educate their own children. Every parent took this responsibility seriously and as a result a very high percentage of children grew up being good readers and well educated.
Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was well educated, as evidenced by the writing of the Declaration of Independence. He had an unusual attitude concerning education.
Thomas Jefferson believed only educated citizens could make the American experiment in self-government succeed. He proposed a system of broad, free, public education that was radical in his day and his founding of the University of Virginia partially achieved his larger goals.
President John F. Kennedy had this to say about the talent of Thomas Jefferson:
In a famous toast at a White House dinner in honor of 49 Nobel Prize winners, Kennedy said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone“.
As a result of our great history children just naturally grew up being good readers and good citizens. Understanding both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was just basic to American education.
But this tradition was very gradually set aside, here a little, there a little.
In 1857 the National Education Association was founded; first as the National Teachers Association. It had very worthy goals.
In Philadelphia, one hundred educators meet to form a national body. Its mission is “to elevate the character and advance the interest of the profession of teaching, and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States.” It is named the National Teachers Association (NTA).
The National Teachers Association later became the National Education Association (the NEA), and while it continued many years as a professional organization it ultimately became a union with greater emphasis on what helped teachers, rather than what was in the best interest of children. It has grown to be the largest professional union in the United States.
That alone would not be a negative factor, but the NEA was gradually taken over by the Democrat Party and their liberal agenda, a form of Marxism.
That agenda has become more liberal as time has gone on until today the only things they seem concerned about are transgender justice, and more pay for teachers.
America was founded as a Christian nation, and most of our state criminal laws are based on the precepts of the Bible. But gradually prayer and Bible reading were removed from the schools and there were no moral principles to take their place.
However, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters the Supreme Court made it clear that the control of children’s education belonged to the parents.
Associate Justice James Clark McReynolds wrote the opinion of the Court. He stated that children were not “the mere creature[s] of the state” (268 U.S. 510, 535), and that, by its very nature, the traditional American understanding of the term liberty prevented the state from forcing students to accept instruction only from public schools. He stated that this responsibility belonged to the child’s parents or guardians, and that the ability to make such a choice was a “liberty” protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
The situation gradually changed until today parents who attend school board meetings and complain about conduct in the schools have been called “Domestic Terrorists“
Although the role of the NEA has gradually changed by the middle of the 1950s the organization had ceased to be just a professional organization for educators and had become a full-blown teacher’s union. It is now the largest union in the country, and most of the things they support are pretty radical.
Here is an interesting article that shows how Teacher Unions are destroying public education. Although the teachers union pretends to be independent, the author insists that they are just a radical arm of the Democrat Party.
With achievement levels the lowest they have ever been the only answer the union has is to spend more money. Unfortunately, this is only a half truth, and a lot of quality education takes place at a much lower cost. It is not the funds that make the difference, but the quality of the materials, and the quality of the teachers. It is unfortunate that many teacher colleges are Marxist, and teachers trained there find it hard to overcome that training.
Many people have complained about the public schools, but because they were single mothers, they did not feel they could do anything about it. Truth is, if you are desperate enough you will find a solution. I know one family where the father took his son to work with him every day. Many mothers work at home with their children with them.
One solution is for a group of mothers to band together. Each mother would teach one day, and then work five days. Thus, in six days wholesome private education takes place.
If we expect to remain free, we will have to retake control of our education system.
Jim Hollingsworth is a graduate of Pensacola Christian College. He has written five books with a sixth with the publisher.
- Climate Change: A Convenient Truth
- Cortez: A Biography
- The Ancient Culture of the Aztec Empire
- Abortion Compassion
- Book of Romans: Commentary
- Book of Galatians: Commentary (with the publisher)
Available wherever books are sold.