Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Applying the Principles of the Declaration of Independence to Education

Yesterday on Facebook, a friend raising his three children in Washington state commented the following:
Silly me, I thought that in our country parents had a right to be involved in the education of their children and thus have a right to know how we are using instructional time--that whole governments draw their power from the consent of the governed and parents have the responsibility to raise their children thing--and alas I found out that, to some, is crazy wacko talk, because parents don't have licenses. Go figure.
I have two responses to this:

1) A study looking at differences in a math teachers' effectiveness as compared to alternatively-certified and non-certified teachers found that there was hardly any difference at all.

2) Fundamental to the founding of our country was the idea
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
The Declaration of Independence follows this statement with words that justify altering or abolishing a destructive form of government:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
A school, especially a public school, is a form of government. My mother, a teacher by training, consistently demonstrated the applicability of the words above to our schooling. Over the course of our school years, she worked hard to ensure that we received the best education possible for our circumstances. She has operated her own private school, sent us to private schools and alternative public schools, and taught us at home; public schools were the default option for her, and she only trusted them with her children as long as they qualified for that trust.

Public school is the default option for most simply because it is paid for by taxes and is what we're used to. As an institution, it won't disappear tomorrow just because it acts in a tyrannical fashion:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
However, educators who refuse to account to parents for how educational time is spent are pushing them past the point of "sufferable" "evils". Public school administrators who wish to keep as students the children of motivated parents should heed the lesson the American colonies gave to England in 1776. If they persist in not recognizing the rights of parents, those parents will eventually turn to charters, vouchers, homeschool, online school, or another school or school district. All the unresponsive administrators will have left to reign over will be the children of parents who don't care how their children do in school and the unfortunate teachers stuck with manning detention centers that were formerly known as schools.

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