There are many problems with our education system, and this author is becoming intimately familiar with a number of them. Longer days and longer school years, but yet in the vast, vast, majority of schools, no better results than twenty plus years ago. Low pay and low retention for teachers, particularly skilled teachers. The added stress on students from social media and broken homes. The list goes on, and on … and on. Certainly one of the greatest problems with our public education system, though, has to be the treatment of students by the education system based upon superficial traits such as skin color. We will never have a robust and thriving public education system while we give preferential treatment to certain classes of students over others.
A perfect example of this is outlined in a recent article by Jason Riley in the Wall Street Journal. In it Mr. Riley discusses some of the disastrous results schools across the country have seen over the past four years after a guidance letter went out from the federal government implying “threatened federal action” if schools did not reduce black suspension rates. Of course, schools scared of losing federal funding or finding themselves on the receiving end of civil-rights lawsuits, found a way to reduce black suspension rates. Schools relaxed policies and suspension requirements. This led, not shockingly to anyone who has ever served inside a classroom, or been a parent for that matter, to more disorder in the classroom and a less safe environment according to students in those classrooms.
Mr. Riley discusses one case in particular, one of those “interviews a journalist never forgets.” In Harlem a father pulled his son out of a public school and placed him in a charter school. The reason, however, was not for smaller class numbers, better test scores, or higher college acceptance rates. The reason was that his son was attacked in a school bathroom. The father said the school was “chaotic, that bullying was rampant, and that his son, a sixth-grader at the time, had become terrified of the place.” The father said he was just “looking for an escape.” What else is to be expected though when the law is not applied equally to all regardless of race or anything else other than citizenship? This is painfully apparent in the current illegitimate political class of our country, but that story will have to wait for another day. Furthermore, violence may have been the symptom here that induced the father to pull his son out, but the underlying issue that caused the increase in violence in the school in the first place was that children were being treated based upon skin color, not the merit of their actions. And there is an even deeper issue at the heart of the matter.
As to the treatment of children based upon skin color though, you cannot treat students differently; period. Kids do make a number of unintelligent decisions, they are kids. For the most part, though, they are much smarter and more perceptive than we as adults often give them credit for. I saw this in the Marine Corps in spades. An eighteen-year-old PFC sees everything … everything. They know when an officer or staff NCO is showing favoritism when they change the rules to suit their own interests. They know when an officer of staff NCO treats them or their unit differently because they look different or sound different. High school students instinctively know this too, and as soon as a teacher or administrator treats a student in a manner differently than they do other students in the same situation, that student has just lost all respect for that teacher or administrator. If a senior football star gets caught drinking and pays a lesser penalty than a freshman third stringer, they see. If a “C” student gets detention after too many tardies, but a “straight-A” student gets a pass, they see. If a student gets help on a test because they “need” accommodations, but a student that does not have those accommodations has to take the test without help, they see. And if you punish one student because they have one skin tone, but do not punish another student because they have a different skin tone, they see.
However, the real problem in our education system is not racism, poverty or lack of opportunity. The real problem, and it applies to all facets of the education system, is something far deeper. The real problem is something that has crept into the home and spread its dark tendrils farther and farther out over the past half-century and more. The real problem is the expulsion of God out of the bedroom, the living room, and the class room. Oh, out of the town halls and political gatherings too, but the improvement of those must grow up from the community, not be forced down upon the community. Trickle-down measures, while they work fantastically for economic issues because of morality, cannot function in moral issues. The morality of a society must come from the bottom up. Yes, you must have leaders set a good example just as in any organization, but you must have members of that organization, in this case citizens of America, that are willing to follow the example set.
So what is the solution to our education system woes? The solution is to have leaders who act morally and ethically. The solution is to also have citizens that are willing to support and encourage those leaders who are willing to take a stand. Where, though, does this example come from? Where do we look for a light to guide us down the dark path we find ourselves on? The answer is the ethics and morality taught by Jesus Christ. The answer is to treat “your neighbor as yourself.” Do you want to be treated based upon your actions? Do you want to be rewarded or judged within society based upon your talent and skill and ability to contribute to the whole? Of course, any honest and decent person will say yes, resoundingly.
Even more than that, the answer to our country’s problems in education is God and Jesus himself. For, as Mr. William McGuffey noted, “That man is to be pitied … who can honestly object to imbuing the minds of youth, with the language and spirit of the Word of God.” This applies to the country as a whole. God doesn’t care about race or ethnicity or gender. He did make people different, give them different talents. He did make men and women different. All that God requires, though, is belief in Jesus as His one and only Son. The sooner we get that notion returned to the heart of our beloved America, the sooner our institutions and country will begin to right themselves.
-JT Cope IV