Category archives: Education

New FRC Pamphlet Available: Jack Klenks Who Should Decide How Children are Educated?

by Chris Gacek

March 23, 2011

Who Should Decide How Children are Educated?FRC is proud to announce the availability of its new policy pamphlet entitled, Who Should Decide How Children are Educated? by Jack Klenk. Mr. Klenk is a retired, long-time Department of Education policy expert and proponent of educational reform.

You can download the document here. [PDF]

Primarily, Klenk asks the following linked questions: Who has the primary responsibility for making critical decisions about the education of school-aged children? Their parents? Or government and the school system it operates?

Klenk presents an extended overview of the development of American public education and demonstrates that we now have a top-down model that has been designed to promote the preferences of experts, bureaucracies, and unions above that of parents. Rather, a system must be developed that overturns old patterns of behavior. The current educational system is overdue for a modernization, that will it make it more flexible, less bureaucratic, and more family-friendly. To be authentically public, it must serve all parents from the whole public.

For education to serve the public, it must give parents access to a variety of schools, not just the monolithic government option. The old system is a monopoly that is not suited to modern life. As with other monopolies, it gives disproportionate weight to itself and special interests, and not enough to the customers the parents and children. Furthermore, monopolies always resist improvement-forcing competition. Any new system of education for the public must leave behind the mindset that only government schools can serve the public. Parents should be allowed to select the educational institutions that best suit their needs.

However, the reforms must be accomplished in a manner that does not interfere with the freedom and distinctive identities of nongovernmental schools. This is critical. Government financial support of parental educational choices cannot be allowed to threaten the independence and distinctive features (e.g., religious education) of alternative institutions. Vouchers, tax credits, and charter schools are all part of a wave of educational change that appears to be on the horizon as the public realizes that government schools are very costly and are not performing well.

Who Should Decide How Children Are Educated?”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 18, 2011

Is “public education the same thing as “government education?” Dr. Jack Klenk argues it is not, but that the two terms have been conflated, in our time, to mean the same thing.

Dr. Klenk is the author of a new FRC booklet titled, “Who Should Decide How Children Are Educated?.” His new publication, which you can download at no charge, answers this probing question through the application of both careful analysis and common sense.

It’s a question well worth asking. According to the federal Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, in constant dollars, spending per pupil in public elementary and secondary schools went from $2,769 in the 1961-62 school year to $10,041 in 2007-07 school year.

What have we gotten for this massive investment? According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, “the reading skills of 12th graders tested in 2005 were significantly worse than those of students in 1992, when a comparable test was first given, and essentially flat since students previously took the exam in 2002.”

Jack Klenk believes we can, and must, do better. He makes a strong case that parents should be allowed and empowered to decide how to education their children. Here’s an excerpt from his new FRC publication:

(W)hat we need today is education that serves the public: education where power flows back to parents; where empowered parents are able to choose schools as they see fit (public charter schools, other government schools, private schools, homeschools, cyber schools, or other schools yet to come); where schools of all stripes that offer quality education are free to compete to serve parents; where the success of schools depends more on satisfying parents who freely choose them than on pleasing bureaucracies; and where nongovernmental schools retain their independence.”

Dr. Klenk’s impressive credentials lend support for his case. He served for twenty-seven years in the U.S. Department of Education under five presidents and eight secretaries. He directed the Office of Non-Public Education which is responsible for fostering the participation of nonpublic school students and teachers in federal education programs and initiatives. Dr. Klenk worked on policies and programs affecting school choice, private schools, home schools, urban faith-based schools, and the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Who Should Decide How Children Are Educated?” is an important contribution to the debate over the future of American education. This is more than an academic discussion — it’s about the well-being of our children and the nation they inherit.

Excerpts from proposed Helena, Montana sex ed curriculum

by Peter Sprigg

July 13, 2010

On Tuesday evening, July 13, the Board of Trustees of the Helena, Montana public schools was scheduled to hear public comments for the first time on a controversial new sex education curriculum.

Some people who support in principle the idea of sex education in schools may wonder what the fuss is about in Helena. Just so people know how extreme the proposed curriculum is, here are some excerptsdirect quotations from the outline (available on the websee pp. 45-50):

Kindergarten:

Introduce basic reproductive body parts (penis, vagina, breast, nipples, testicles, scrotum, uterus)

Grade 1:

Understand human beings can love people of the same gender & people of another gender

Grade 2:

Understand making fun of people by calling them gay (e.g., homo, fag,’ queer) is disrespectful and hurtful.

Grade 4:

Understand sexual harassment is unwanted and uninvited sexual attention such as teasing, touching, or taunting, sexting and is against the law. [sic]

Grade 5:

Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.

Understand sexual orientation refers to a persons physical and/or romantic attraction to an individual of the same and/or different gender, and is part of ones [sic] personality.

Grade 6:

Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration; using the penis, fingers, tongue or objects.

Understand gender identity is different from sexual orientation.

Grade 7:

Discuss the Supreme Court decision that has ruled that, to a certain extent, people have the right to make personal decisions concerning sexuality & reproductive health matters, such as abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

Discuss state laws governing the age of consent for sexual behaviors.

Understand sexual abuse involving touching can include kissing, an abuser touching genitals touching the abusers genitals, being asked to touch ones own genitals, or engaging in vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. [sic]

Grades 9-12:

Understand erotic images in art reflect societys views about sexuality & help people understand sexuality.

One other item in the high school curriculum, listed under human sexuality even though it has nothing directly to do with that, is this:

Understand seeking professional help can be a sign of strength when people are in need of guidance.

I imagine that after thirteen years of this curriculum, there would be a lot of young people in need of guidance and seeking professional help.

Tragedy on College Campuses

by Christopher Beach

May 4, 2010

In less than two weeks from today I will graduate from Patrick Henry College and finish four years of my undergraduate. Looking back, I can remember a lot of the typical college experiences late night studying, spring break road trips, and nights out with your friends. Im fortunate to say that I was never involved or associated in one particular college trend in all of my four years violence or murder.

Having personally known one of the girls shot at Virginia Tech on April 16th, 2007, my heart breaks every time I hear of college-related violence and the pointless death of innocent students.

Today, my heart goes out to the family of Yeardley Love, a 22-year-old lacrosse player and student at the University of Virginia, murdered this week by her on-and-off 22-year-old boyfriend.

The thought of such a tragedy makes me wonder why my experience at college has been so different from a majority of the campuses across America. In four years, my school has not had a single murder, suicide, or violent crime.

Considering that the USA Today calculated 857 college student deaths from 2000 to 2005, how does one school manage to escape unscathed? Its certainly not chance or luck. For Patrick Henry College, its in our Christian culture.

Critics mock us for our strict rules like no dancing or drinking on campus, no members of the opposite sex permitted in your dorm room, nightly curfew hours and the lack of a social atmosphere it creates. We have been the subject of books (Gods Harvard), television shows, op-eds, and countless blogs who rant against our brand of overbearing right-wing Christianity that poisons societys freedom.

Yet, what is the cost of students being able to express themselves? Is that freedom worth the cost of drunk driving deaths, drug related violence, and love affairs turned fatal?

Im certainly not saying that Christians are not capable of committing the same, if not worse crimes. But the culture of Christianity and the rules we hold ourselves to at Patrick Henry lay substantial roadblocks to violent or illegal behavior.

Granted, our entire school population would be one or two classes at UVA, but the fact remains that Patrick Henry College has its own recipe for student safety that is active and working. Ill be the first to admit that Ive broken the colleges rules, but as I look back, I realize that in many ways those same laws saved me from myself.

Non-Christians who are reading this right now are sure to be shaking their heads at me. How can you use one unfortunate crime to wave your rules over our heads and try to enforce your agenda on us? I understand that many people are turned off by Christianity and its giant rulebook. But as the number of college related attacks and crimes rise, and as more campuses are scarred with senseless deaths, I hope universities will consider the facts before them and realize that there is a way to prevent future heartbreaks commit to enforcing tough, moral laws and foster a community of students who want to uphold those laws.

Christopher Beach is Associate Producer of Bill Bennett’s nationally syndicated radio show, Morning In America, and a senior at Patrick Henry College. He blogs at Beach Notes.

Local High School to House Clinic Promoting Family Planning for Youth 12-19

by Family Research Council

March 2, 2010

* Note: Alexandria City Schools School Board Meeting tonight!

As a taxpaying citizen of Alexandria, VA, a former educator, and a person who values our young people and wants them to have the best options available, I am outraged that the public school system in Alexandria is funding a local teen health center, with a primary focus on family planning. Moreover, I strongly disagree with the planned move of the center from its current location in a trailer outside a nearby shopping center, directly into T.C. Williams High School so that center workers will have unlimited access to students.

Not only do I not want my hard-earned tax dollars supporting this endeavor, but more importantly, I am convinced that this move undermines parental authority, is costly to our city, and most importantly does a huge disservice to young people.

The center provides services for youth aged 12-19 years old, dispenses contraception and refers for abortion without parental permission. The teen center also provides other services, interestingly, all which require parental permission, such as routine physical exams, vaccinations, treatment of minor illnesses. However the primary focus of the center is family planning, STD treatment and abortion referral.

Given that research continually supports the fact that sexual involvement at a young age is not good for adolescents, especially girls, why would T.C. Williams and Alexandria City Schools consider this a good decision for our young peoples health?

A study released less than two weeks ago again showed that abstinent teens report better psychological well-being and higher educational attainment than those who are sexually active. Another recent study stated that sexual abstinence is typically associated with better physical and psychological health among American adolescents, including less problems with depression, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), infertility later in life, addiction to drugs and alcohol, and academic achievement. This same study indicated that girls are significantly more likely to suffer from depression when they are sexually active than adolescent boys.

Not only is teen sexual involvement bad for young people, but it is also extraordinarily costly to our economically burdened city. In FY10, employee salaries were frozen due to the financial crisis, yet teen STI, out-of-wedlock childbearing and emotional and psychological harm are expensive social service projects for the City of Alexandria.

Additionally excluding parents from these important decisions removes the strongest support and influence in a young persons life. While it might not always seem to be the case that young people want to talk about the birds and the bees with mom and dad, studies show that in fact teens do want to hear from their parents on these matters, and actually consider them the most influential people in their lives when it comes to sexual decision making. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a parent most influences a young persons decision to become sexually involved.

According to this poll,

  • 9 out of 10 teens (94%) think that adults should let teens know they should wait to have sex at least until they get out of high school
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) teens say it would be easier to avoid early sexual activity and teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents

What are better options?

In early January, a rigorous study was released that compared abstinence education with contraceptive sex education. The study overwhelmingly supported abstinence education as the most effective in reducing sexual initiation among young teens, to the extent that even detractors of abstinence education admitted this fact.

Parents also strongly prefer the message of abstinence to contraceptive sex education. A recent poll showed that parents prefer abstinence education 2 to 1.

The funding of the clinic and planned move into TC Williams raise a number of questions and concerns. Why would Alexandria City Schools not offer that which is healthiest and most efficacious for young people? And why is the school system undermining the parent/child relationship, especially regarding topics as important as sexual decision-making? In a moment when we are looking to cut the fat out of the budget, why would we spend money on a prevention program that is not good for kids, and will ultimately cost the taxpayers more money?

I strongly encourage you to get the word out about this clinic. Here is the press release from Feb 28th from Alexandria City Schools.

The school board is meeting on tonight, Tuesday, March 2nd. If you would like to speak about this issue at the meeting, contact Rosemary Webb, clerk of the school board, and ask to speak at the meeting. You can contact the school board by clicking here.

Back to School with President Obama

by Tony Perkins

September 6, 2009

In his inaugural speech in 1961 President John F. Kennedy delivered this memorable line

[“Ask not…” clip]

Fast forward nearly 50 years and President Barack Obama was poised to ask the nations elementary school students not what they could do for their country but what they could do for their President.

The White House announced that the President would be speaking live to the nations K-6th graders. The Department of Education had prepared a work sheet to accompany the speech in which the children were instructed to engage in several exercises including writing a letter about how they could help the president.

After a fire storm of opposition erupted the White House changed lesson plans and now the youngsters will be asked to consider how they can help themselves achieve their educational goals. Certainly a more appropriate question, but one that is probably more suited for middle and high school students.

However, parents remain concerned. Some are keeping their kids home from school on the day of the speech. Over 95% of parents who responded to an FRC survey said the President should not be speaking to children during classroom hours.

Some in the media have decried the parental opposition as partisan. But it is really?

Consider that this speech is being made during one of the most controversial public policy debates in years in which the president has been steadily losing public support for his health care plan.

But even if the speech does not interject policy into the class room of 6 & 7 year old children, when parents consider the agenda of this administration as represented by the presidents appointments to the education department parents have a right to be concerned.

The Secretary of the department, Arne Duncan, has promoted some pretty controversial ideas, like special schools for homosexual students when he was head of the Chicago school system. Even more concerning is Kevin Jennings who is supposedly in charge of the Safe and Drug Free School Program for the Department of Education.

Jennings is the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educational Network, an organization that promotes homosexuality in the public schools, he also wrote the forward to a book entitled Queering Elementary Education.

This Administration has given parents plenty of reason to be concern over what is piped into the classroom. For more visit FRC.org

Spurred on to Service: The Roger Mason Story

by Robert Morrison

September 3, 2009

Heres a story we need to see. Roger Mason, Jr., a star shooting guard for the San Antonio Spurs, is shown in the Washington Times recently giving high fives to a group of boys at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Northwest D.C. Mason formerly played for the Washington Wizards, but left to join the Spurs last summer.

Despite moving more than a thousand miles away, Roger Mason has not forgotten his roots. His Roger Mason Foundation is a partner with the local charter school, and Roger is playing a part in the lives of area children. Fifty local students will attend Movie Night with Mase this week. They were selected on the basis of essays they wrote. Many of the kids wrote about Roger Mason and how he is an inspirational figure to them. That means more to me than anything, Mason told The Washington Times sports writer, Tom Knott, thats the cool part. Thats the type of thing thats special to me.

I am especially grateful to Tom Knott for giving us this wonderful story. Too often, the media highlight the lurid, the weird, the criminal. But Roger Mason is not just quiet, steady, dependable Mason, the guy behind the guy but ever capable. Roger is a star.

Roger Mason was a classmate of my children. He graduated from Calvary Lutheran School in Silver Spring, Maryland in the ‘90s. He was a standout athleteeven in fourth grade! And he was quiet, modest and ever capable, even then.

Calvary Lutheran did beautiful things. All 123 children in that school read on grade level.

That is something few schools can boast. Teachers at Calvary had to teach for twenty-three years before they earned as much as an entry-level teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools. The amazing thing is that we had four teachers who were at that level.

I sometimes get ribbed by liberal friends about sending my children to Christian schools.

Oh, joining the white flight, eh? Well, we did join the whiteand blackflight to Calvary, where 85 percent of the students were minority students. But we didnt pay attention to that back then. Instead, we were drawn to those words engraved in stone above the entrance to Calvary: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

I thank God for Calvary Lutheran School, what it has meant to my family, and what it meant to Roger Mason. He continues to bless this community, San Antonio, and any other community that is fortunate enough to know him. Oh, and E.L. Haynes Public Charter School? Its right down the street from Calvary.

Save School Choice in Washington, D.C.

by Krystle Gabele

May 7, 2009

Today, I had the opportunity to attend the “Save Our D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Rally” at Freedom Plaza. Students from several Charter and private schools were in attendance chanting, “Put Kids First,” as well as parents, who were very concerned about the loss of funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships, which allow students to attend private schools, instead of lower performing public schools throughout the District.

The crowd heard from many speakers, including Former Mayor Anthony Williams, Council member Marion Barry, School Choice advocate, Virginia Walden Ford, and many others, who were concerned about the education system in Washington, D.C. While there were many parents who spoke on behalf of the scholarships, the real impact came from two young men who talked about the education that they are able to achieve at the private schools where they are attending, compared to the public schools they used to attend. Both of these young men are brilliant, and there is no doubt that they will be able to achieve whatever career path they choose to pursue. Here is the video of their speech:

Why President Obama would want to end their dreams by eliminating these scholarships is puzzling. Obama was a product of a quality private education, and he has chosen the same education for his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Why would he deny the same opportunity for students in the District?

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