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DA URNA ENERGIALAHO
Dr. Moore's books are steeped in Biblical principle. He readily affirms that many of his ideas on schooling came from a study of the Bible and the culture of ancient Israel. Deuteronomy 6:7, he said, is central to his beliefs about home schooling: "And thou (fathers) shalt teach them (God's precepts) diligently unto thy children."
mothers. . . . Most parents have at least enough (knowledge) to satisfy State standards" in the basics, Moore wrote in Homespun Schools.
Mike McHugh, administrator for admissions and curriculum development at Christian Liberty Academy, observes that the Bill of Rights would have been entitled the Bill of Privileges had the Founding Fathers envisioned a parent having to ask the state's permission to teach his own children.
But we can't use our energy battling the courts on constitutional grounds," explained Gloria DeNicola. Ironically, their concer for legality has backfired into a courtroom hassle while most who have quietly gone about home-educating without reporting have eventually been overlooked or lost in the system.
Public school superintendents "who know what they're doing will look the other way" to parents teaching at home, Dr. Moore told LIBERTY. The "spirit of the law," that parents have prior rights given by God, versus the "letter of the law," says Moore, is the core of the legal issue. He notes that "the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that a parent has a prior right to educate his children." Moore is the nation's leading Christian home-school advocate. With his wife, Dorothy, he has authored Home Grown Kids, Homespun Schools, and other books on education and parenting.
Dr. Moore advances several arguments for home schooling. The "ability of a child to explore freely" is restricted in a groupschool environment, he says. This exploring facet is recognized by Maine homeschooling parents, most of whom regularly provide extra activities such as field trips to university libraries, radio stations, industries, and museums.
Also, Moore maintains that a child taught by his parents has "literally hundreds of responses" daily from the parent-instructor "not possible in a group situation" where the teacher has a large class.
Dr. Moore scorns the public educators' notions of socialization. Citing the “singular adult example" of parents, Moore noted that the loss of self-worth, a lack of respect for parents, loss of personal optimism, and loss of trust in one's peers results from the typical public school "socialization." In Homespun Schools, Moore concludes: “The child who works and eats and plays and has his rest and is read to daily, more with his parents than with his peers, ... is the one who has a sense of self-worth. . He becomes a social leader. ... He largely avoids the dismal pitfalls and social cancer of peer dependency. He is the productive citizen our nation badly needs."
Should Christian Schools Have StateCertified Teachers?
very state requires that parents educate their children by sending them to public schools,
private schools, or by means of home study. To assure that students are receiving an adequate education, the legislatures in 47 states have mandated that schoolteachers be state certified. Generally, grade school teachers are required to have a four-year college degree in elementary education; high school teachers must have a degree in secondary education and must have taken several courses in the subject area (for example: history, math) they intend to teach.
While the majority of states exempo private schools from the necessity of hiring state-certified teachers, at least 11 do not. In these 11 states, parents face criminal prosecution if they fail to enroll their children in schools that employ state-certified teachers. Although no parent has been imprisoned for sending children to a Christian school employing uncertified teachers, one school and its administrator gained national attention when Nebraska jailed Pastor Everett Sileven, of Louisville, for refusing to obey a court order closing Faith Baptist school. In North Dakota, parents have been fined from $10 to $400 each for violating that state's compulsory attendance law.
The arguments against hiring state-certified teachers are two: (1) to hire state-certified teachers is to submit to state control over a duty that the Bible mandates to parents, and (2) hiring state-certified teachers does not assure good education and may be harmful to a child's moral upbringing. God Before State
The apostle Paul charges parents to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4, R.S.V.). For many Christian parents this counsel means more than to take their children to Sunday school once a week. Some parents, believing it would be sinful to send their children to public school, send them instead to parochial schools or teach them at home. In the past decade we have seen a large increase in the number of
Conflict develops when the state attempts to regulate these private schools in the same manner in which it regulates public schools. Generally the state prescribes a minimum curriculum; sets the minimum number of school days; establishes health, fire, and safety standards; and requires all teachers to be state certified. Some pastors object to these regulations. "The state doesn't own children; parents do!" they insist. (See "'Faith' Versus Nebraska," LIBERTY, May-June, 1983.)
Ironically, the same pastors crying Foul when the state attempts to exercise minimal control over the education of its citizens are, along with doctors, lawyers, and Christian colleges subject to regulation through licensing. No one can convincingly argue that the state does not have a compelling interest in assuring that its citizens are educated sufficiently to become functional, productive members of society. The "state" is us, all of us. We elect and delegate authority to our representatives who pass the laws and regulations under which we live. The people of a state have the right, indeed the obligation, to educate
It is no answer to say, "My school is part of my church; therefore you cannot control it in any way, shape, or form." The United States Supreme Court has distinguished right to believe from right to act upon belief. The first is protected by law; the second may not be. la one case, members of the Neo-American Church sought exemption from federal drug laws by claiming the drug laws infringe on their freedom of religion. The nation's Highest Court accepted the church members' right to believe what they wanted but upheld the authority of the state to control their drug activity.
It seems hypocritical to say, "We will submit to state control over health, fire, and safety standards; the length of the school year, and the minimal curriculum requirements; but not to the certified-teacher edict." If it is sinful to submit to the state on onc requirement, it should be no less sinful to submit on the others. Some skeptics have noted that it costs little to comply with the state regulations except for the teacher certification requirement. Since certified reachers have at least a college degree, they
James M. Vukelic, a former public school. teacher and guidance counselor, is the prosecuting attorney for Hettinger County, North Dakota.
may not be satisfied with the salary a nonprofessional would accept. Most states require that a high school teacher must have a major or minor in each subject taught. Since a private high school must offer a variety of subjects, it must hire several teachers. Many fledgling private schools have small enrollments, making it economically unfeasible to hire more than one or two teachers. Is this the real reason for rejecting the certified-teacher requirement? Certified Teachers Do Not Assure Good Education
Most education experts agree that employing certified teachers will not necessarily assure students a quality education. Some fundamentalists have taken the argument one step further: hiring state-certified teachers would have a damaging effect on church school education. Certified teachers are exposed to secular humanism in college.
The supposition is erroneous for two reasons. First, exposure to secular humanism no more makes one a secular humanist than reading Mein Kampf makes one a Nazi, or studying Spanish makes one a Spaniard. Second, thousands of graduates of private religious colleges presumably have not been "infected" by secular humanism and are as certifiable as any graduate from a state college.
More troublesome is the argument that the states should drop the teacher certification requirement and instead use standard achievement tests to see whether students are being well educated. At first blush, this alternative seems reasonable, but it suffers from several inadequacies. The first deals with sanctions, what is to be done if some students, or most of them, score poorly on the tests. Should the school be closed? Is the teacher who taught those students who scored poorly to be reprimanded? fired? required to take additional course work in the subject area where the students demonstrated inadequacy? How does this help students who have already suffered at the hands of the poor teacher?
Perhaps the poor test scores are not the teacher's fault at all, but that of lazy students or uncaring parents. Undoubtedly some students in every class score higher than the norm. Should the class average be used to determine teacher effectiveness? How reliable an indicator of teacher quality is a class average, particularly where the class is small or made up primarily of children from white upper-middle-class homes? Since most of a child's time is spent in the home, is it safe to assume that above-average test scores are brought about by great schoolteachers?
A second and more serious problem with testing involves state control over the content of educational courses. Currently most states mandate a number of subject areas such as English, science, maththat each school must offer. However, no attempt is made to control the specific material that must be taught. A standardized test covering biology might penalize students who give "wrong" answers to ques
tions on evolution. The very religious freedom parents seek in establishing a church school could be stripped from them by using standardized tests rather than teacher certification to ensure quality education. Ironically, often the people who claim that employing certified teachers is tantamount to placing the state above God propose testing as an altemative.
If a teacher's job depends on his students testing well. or if a school's remaining open depends upon good test scores, teacher and administrator alike are going to have an undesirable stake in the outcome. While most teachers would not be so unscrupulous as to consciously "teach to the test," it is difficult to believe that they wouldn't be affected by the pressure of administrators. parents, fellow teachers, students, and others involved in the schools' existence.
It is not enough to show why some alternative to certifying teachers, such as standardized testing, is unsound as a means of assuring quality education. There must be logical reasons for certification in the first place. One is the role of the tutor" in the church school.
Many private schools are using the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, whereby students advance at their own speed by completing programmed materials. The role of tutor is significantly different from the traditional role of teacher. It is difficult to imagine that one tutor is competent to answer questions dealing with English, chemistry, music, history, geometry, and other subjects covered by the programmed materials. The result is that the student gets cheated when a tutor lacks competence. As the adage has it, you get what you pay for. If we demand that doctors have several years of college training and pass rigorous examinations before we allow them to treat our children's bodies, what folly it is to entrust our children's minds to people who have not chosen education as their career or mission and taken the time to learn their art before practicing it.
No, the state does not own children, but neither do parents. We are but shepherds obligated to do the best we can in rearing our children. We do them a great injustice when we indulge incompetent teachers. While teacher certification may not be foolproof in guarding against incompetence, it is far better and less intrusive than any alternative proposed to date.
Selected References A Nation at Risk, 1983 report of the National
Commission on Excellence in Education. State of North Dakota v. Kathy Rivinius and
Ronald Weikum, 328 N.W.2d 220 at 229
(N.D. 1983). United States v. Kuch, 288 F. Supp. 439 (D.D.C.
• The Scripture quotation marked R.S.V. in this article is from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyrighted 1946, 1952 O 1971. 1973
An attorney for the Christian Legal Society argues that state certification of teachers does not guarantee
By SAMUEL E ERICSSON
Samuel E. Ericsson, a Harvard lan graduate, is director of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, at the Christian Legal Society.
ducation has become a major
social and political issue in America. We all want quality
education for our children. The lig question is Who defines quality? Ultinately, the focus is on teacher effectiveness
the classroom and who should evaluate he teacher's ability to teach.
Although many public school systems are doing an excellent job in their communities, in some urban areas the results are mediocre and often tragic. “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that Susis today, we might well have viewed it
Recently, Mary Futrell, president of the 'largest national teachers' union, the National Education Association (NEA), voiced opposition to any teacher test that could result in denied employment. Futrell said, “No single test can judge whether a teacher can teach." 10
In November, 1983, the nation's leading testing service, the Educational Testing Service, announced a ban on its national teacher examination." The action by ETS renounced the use of tests to measure the competence of practicing teachers in public schools. According to ETS president Gregory R. Anrig, "We do not require practicing lawyers to retake bar examinations, nor do we require . . . practicing physicians to retake the state medical examination. "12
Thomas Toch, associate editor of Educa. tion Week, wrote: “In spite of recent talk of merit pay and career ladders,' the solution chosen by the greatest number of states has been to deny teaching licenses to anyone who cannot pass the test of basic English and math skills. While the idea sounds reasonable enough, a close look at these so-called 'competency tests' shows that, in fact, they cannot be a cure-all."'")
In California, the state exam for teacher certification tests basic math skills—addition, subtraction, percentages, fractions, and geometric shapes. Only one third of the math section deals with algebra and geometry. To pass, 26 of 40 answers must be correct.
Nevertheless, 32 percent of all prospective teachers who take the state exam fail. The majority of these teachers are graduates of secular colleges. Moreover, 43 percent of the already state-certified teachers also fail. As a result, California has dropped the requirement that practicing teachers pass the exam in order to be licensed to teach new subjects. "S
In Florida, to dramatize the low standards of their state exam, the principal of the Hebrew Day School gave sample math and reading questions to a random group of sixth-graders. Eight of eight students passed the reading tests, and seven of eight passed in math. Almost one in five of Florida's prospective teachers, all graduates of stateaccredited secular teachers' colleges or universities, failed the test.'
act of war. So concludes the res ent's National Commission on Excel
in Education in its 1983 report, A
or Risk. A Nation at Risk was part of a tidal wave of criticism about government-run educational programs.' In many test .areas it was proved dangerous for a child's physical, moral, and educational health to attend the local government-run school.
But beware of placing your children in an educational environment that is not statecontrolled. Amish. Mennonite, Fundamentalist, and Evangelical parents have found it dangerous to provide education separate from government-run programs. In 15 states, educational agencies have dragged parents and church-operated schools into court to defend their right to separate education. Increasingly, parents choose jail rather than submit their children to the state's definition of quality.
In late 1983, seven Nebraska fathers were jailed allegedly for violating the state truancy laws. There was no evidence that their children were not receiving quality education or that they were truant from the school of their choice. Rather, their teachers were not certified.
In contrast, truancy is epidemic in many urban schools. Yet few, if any, parents have spent a day in jail for failing to see that their children attend class. This is a tragic double standard.
want to make private education another
Educational Freedom Is a Constitutional
The freedom of parents and churches to found and control educational ministries for their children is a basic constitutional right.' The Supreme Court has testified to the role religious schools play in our society.
Such schools absorb a substantial financial burden that would otherwise have to be carried by taxpayers. Currently, to educate a child in the public schools costs about $4,000 a year per student. ' Conservatively, Christian schools that refuse state control of their programs save the taxpayers nearly $2 billion.
Public schools are crying for more funds. Yet they appear to have unlimited resources to fight the right of parents and Christian * schools to provide alternative education.
Primary in their attack is state certification of the teachers in Christian schools. Absolute Separation: A Straw Man
With few exceptions, Christian schools adhere to state regulations on building codes, and health, fire, and safety standards. Rarely does a Christian school refuse to comply with state school attendance standards.' Never has a Christian school challenged state requirements on English, mathematics, civics, history, and geography.'
Christian schools generally recognize that the state has legitimate authority in certain areas. Those who argue that the schools want "absolute separation" are building a straw man. The real conflict begins when the state surpasses the areas of attendance, building codes, health, fire, and safety, and seeks to impose subjective criteria on teaching methodology or competence.
The State Has the Monopoly
Of the 40 million school-age children in our country, 90 percent attend public schools, and another 9 percent private schools that submit to state licensing, accreditation, and teacher-certification standards. The remaining one percent are educated either at home or in schools that refuse to submit, on religious or constitutional grounds, to state control.
State certification of Christian school teachers has little to do with the state's desire for quality education. State educators
State Certification is no Guarantee of
Education experts agree that state certification of teachers will not guarantee quality education.' The theory is that state certification weeds out incompetence. But statemandated teacher certification is about as effective as using a bulldozer to weed the family garden. State certification ensures only state control.
Fixing Something That Is Not Broken
In contrast to the crisis in public education, no shortcomings are cited in the quality of private education. American private schools, both religious and nonsectarian, have a longstanding reputation for
Criminal and other existing laws offer much protection to the public. These include laws against fraud, embezzlement, false solicitation, and child abuse, and also laws on fire, safety, and sanitation.
Standardized achievement tests for student competency can be used. Although such testing has its critics, it can identify serious problem areas.
doing a fine job. According to noted constitutional lawyer William Bentley Ball, no court case has shown that a private school's performance fell below the average public school in the surrounding community."
in 1983, 11.000 students in 66 Christian schools in Maryland who took the California Achievement Test scored 25 percent higher than the national public school average on the same test." The Christian schools participating in the testing program ranged in size from fewer than 100 to more than 1,000 students. Roger L. Salomon, executive director of the Maryland Association of Christian Schools, says: “Some people have the opinion that because we don't have tremendous physical plants, huge budgets, and all the extras, we don't do a good job. We wanted to show the public that, even in a one-room school, you can provide a good education." How to Protect Our Children
If state education agencies are not given a monopoly in certifying all teachers in all schools, public and private, what protection do parents, the public, and children have against shoddy education or fly-by-night schools?
The most effective way of holding Christian schools accountable is the parents' freedom of choice. In Free to Choose, Nobel prize economist Milton Friedman affirms the parents' ability to choose well. The monthly tuition bill is a strong incentive for parents to make certain their children are receiving a quality education.
I have both of my children in a Christian school. Each month, the $280 tuition is a reminder that education is not free. If I felt that a teacher were not providing the quality for which I was paying. I would discuss the matter with the principal. It would not take many complaints from parents to get results.
As a corollary to the operations of the "free market" where parents remove their children from private schools if they are unsatisfied, principals in Christian schools have greater flexibility with respect to teachers. In public schools the rule is once tenured, always tenured." It is difficult for school boards and administrators to remove a certified, tenured, but incompetent teacher. But tenure generally does not exist in the private school. Thus, an incompetent teacher can be replaced.
Parents in Christian schools have greater opportunity to evaluate the teachers. Most Christian schools are affiliated with a church, and often the teachers attend the same church the students and their parents do. The parents are thereby able to evaluate che teacher on personality, values, manners, and character.
Most Christian schools affiliate with some association of Christian schools. Groups such as the Association of Christian Schools International, with more than 2,000 Christian school members, have established their own accreditation and certification standards. There is no basis for suggesting that the state can do a better job in evaluating these schools than a private association.
The Real Issue: Educational Freedom or Despotism?
Many parents do not presume that the state is the sole or superior educator. Benjamin Disraeli, English prime minister, observed in 1839 that the attempe to place all English education in the hands of the governmental bureaucracy was undesirable because "all children would be thrown into the same mint and all would come out with the same impress superscription." 21
A few years later John Stuart Mill, English intellectual, wrote that state-sponsored education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another, and as the mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant 'power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind." 23
The most effective check against an established "despotism over the mind" in America today is the allowance for a truly pluralistic educational system where parents, rather than the state, are permitted to evaluate what is best for their children. A
Footnotes National Assessment of Education Progress (1982); J. S. Coleman, et al., High School Achievement: Public, Catholic. and Private Schools Compared (1982); T. M. Black, Straight Talk About American Education (1982); Paul Copperman, The Literacy Hoor (1978); R. B. Everhart, ed., The Public School Monopoly (1982); Richard Mitchell, The Graves of Academe (1981); C. E. Silberman, Crisis in the Classroom (1970); Frank Armbruster and Paul Bracken, Our Children's Crippled Future (1977); S. L. Blumenfeld, Why America Still Has a Reading Problem (1975); Russell Kirk. Decadence and Renewal in the Higher Learning (1978); John L. Goodlad, A Place Called School (1983).
? "Jailings in Nebraska School Case Tum Church-State Separation Into Chasm," Washington Post, Dec. 3, 1983. D. AJ.
'Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925); Wisconsin y. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972)
* Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236 (1968).
5 More Money, Staff, Change Little for Average Students," Washington Post, Dec. +. 1983, p. AI
• Testimony of William Bentley Ball at hearing before U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources on Governance in Education, Oct. 18. 1983.