Education: Who’s in Control?

I don’t care that President Obama plans on broadcasting a speech to millions of school children on Sept. 8; I couldn’t care less that President George H.W. Bush did a similar broadcast in 1991. What I do care about is the use of tax-payer funding for such a broadcast, the lesson plan associated with it and the “backlash” brought on those who oppose the broadcast.
In my opinion, this is less about politics and more about local control of education. I’m not saying that some, possibly most, aren’t being “political” in their criticism of the President and the proposed broadcast, the same thing happened in 1991. The Daily Record reports, “Like President Obama, President Bush drew criticism, with Democrats accusing the Republican president of making the event into a campaign commercial.
Critics are particularly upset about lesson plans the administration created to accompany the speech. The lesson plans, available online, originally recommended having students “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.”
The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could “write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals”.”
The White House has also agreed to post the text of the President’s speech on the White House website on Monday, so that parents and teachers will have a chance to read what their children will be hearing.

On her blog Loretta Nall writes, “Now, I agree with parents rights to not have their children indoctrinated in public schools. For instance, I never allowed my children to participate in DARE…because that really is indoctrination. I knew what was taught in DARE, having been exposed to it in school and through my work in drug policy reform. And DARE is an ongoing class, complete with a trip to the local jail where children are locked in a cell and treated like criminals. Complete indoctrination. When you think about it all public education is indoctrination to some degree. I’ve been deprogramming my children from day one of their public school education…Besides, if you’re really that afraid of what President Obama might say, shouldn’t YOU WATCH the speech and discuss all the reasons you disagree with its content with your children?”

I encourage parents to make an intelligent decision about whether to keep their children home, as some are proposing. If parents are really concerned about what their children learn, why do they not fight to get government out of the education business?
For the first 150 years of America’s settlement and the first 50 to 75 years of the nation’s existence, government schooling as it is known today did not exist.
Matthew J. Brouillette, wrote, “From the outset of the first settlements in the New World, Americans founded and successfully maintained a de-centralized network of schools up through the 1850s…Early America was arguably the freest civil society that has ever existed. This freedom extended to education, which meant that parents were responsible for, and had complete control of, their children’s schooling. There were no accrediting agencies, no regulatory boards, and no teacher certification requirements. Parents could choose whatever kind of school or education they wanted for their children, and no one was forced to pay for education they did not use or approve of.”