From the Desk of Laura Bunker
On my first day of Jr. High, the principal’s deep voice boomed over the loudspeaker, “Vos Involvitor.” My eyes grew big. Nobody told me I had to learn Latin here! The deep voice continued, “That is our school motto, it means ‘Get Involved.’ If you don’t, who will?” It made a impression on my young mind, and the next day I decided to run for seventh grade secretary. The principal was right, no one else got involved, so I actually won!
Chances are your child will not bring Latin homework home from school. But they may bring home other homework that concerns you. For example, a 4th grader in Arizona recently had some adult-themed homework about extra-marital affairs. She said, “I had to ask my mom ’cause I didn’t really want to go too deep into what they were asking me.” In this case, it was fortunate that she talked to her mother. Often they don’t.
While UFI appreciates the valuable contribution public schools make to our children and our communities, as Marlene Hinton explains in today’s alert, there are ever-encroaching ideologies that would use public school systems to promote anti-family values. These powerful negative influences may have their way if parents do not engage. As much as possible, parents need to volunteer in the classroom, work with the teacher, talk to other students, review books, help with homework, support the positive, and raise concerns over the negative.
Marlene helps us understand why it is more critical than ever that parents “Vos Involvotor–Get Involved–in your child’s schooling. As my Jr. High principal said, if you don’t, who will?
Very Best Wishes,
President, United Families International
Reflections on the State Religion
By Marlene Hinton
I was surprised one Sunday when my daughter-in-law told her four-year-old that if he didn’t get his Sunday clothes on he would have to stay home from church. Even more astonishing was the speed with which he got dressed so he could go. My boys would have taken any excuse to stay home, I mused, but this little guy was eager to attend.
Later that day I talked with another grandson preparing for his first day at kindergarten. His mother reported that he claims to be both a little happy to go to school and a little sad to leave his mom. I recalled my own experience in Miss Haythorne’s class as a five-year-old. While she was a wonderful teacher, I remember crying – tears of boredom mixed with longing to be with my mother. I wanted to stay home, but as with church, was offered no choice.
The juxtaposition of these experiences brought to mind an assertion by Dr. John Meyer of Stanford University, that “education can usefully be conceived as a transcendental or religious institution…it is the secular religion of a modern society” (2000, p. 208). Like religion, he claims, schools are constituted by a cosmology, or universalized values and belief system with “meaningful linkages of humans and their activity to this cosmos” (Ibid., p. 209).
Consider the following Ten Characteristics that define religion, be it traditional or secular:
1. Belief about deity: one God, many gods, or no god. Public education worships its own Trinity of Money, Control, and Science (as they define it).
2. Cosmology (system of values and beliefs). Schools accept certain universal truths applicable to all mankind. Among them are diversity, tolerance, equality, poverty, and social justice. The caveat here is that like science, the educational ministry defines each tenet after the image of its own god, often seen in the mirror.
3. Meaningful linkages. Attached to these universal truths are expected behaviors – everything from raising one’s hand for permission to speak or care for personal needs to activism in hallowed causes. Students, whether 6 or 16, must sit in chairs and follow instructions and rules on demand.
4. Catechism. In order to teach these truths and behaviors, organized, approved coursework is developed and children taught in The Ways of The Church/school. Assessments are used for quality – and child – control.
5. Ministry or priesthood. Only an elite group of authorized individuals who have been properly trained are qualified to teach. They also define the qualifications. There are orders of administration, teachers, and staff with ongoing professional development in The Way that distributes virtue.
6. Rites, rituals, and ceremonial observances. Bells call students to class like nuns to prayer. Students wait and walk in lines, follow a litany of rules, and perform in “pep” assemblies. Robes and caps accompany graduation. School songs are hymns of institutional adoration.
7. Esoteric knowledge. There is a hierarchy of legitimate learning. Literacy and numeracy are more valued than music, drama, creativity, or sports (in real life those are reversed). Math, science, engineering and technology are most sacred. The amount of accumulated knowledge serves to stratify and separate the populace into classes: the devout from the pagan, holy from heretical.
8. Use of threats or rewards. Sins that must be punished include racism, bigotry, homophobia, and sexism. Or playing with toy guns at home (note that the mother in this incident accepts the premise of her child as school “property”). College admission and success in the financial kingdom are the promises dangled before young seminarians. Those who fail to receive the Approved Knowledge are labeled failures, doomed financially and socially.
9. Gatekeepers. Threats carry weight as our society has come to accept as valid the claims of The Church/school. Only school education is viewed as legitimate. They control the Gates into College, and only college graduates are qualified to reach the highest echelons of business and industry regardless of the degree conferred.
10. Deeply held belief. The more deeply held a belief is, the greater the resistance to change and outcry when it is challenged. Thus, school is mandatory, truancy punishable by law. Parents increase tithed amounts to fund new school reforms despite continuous failure of past reforms. Few government welfare programs are as sacred to the public as schools. Children educated outside of traditional classrooms are regarded as defective academically and dysfunctional socially (If one discovers the sinful past of home learners). It is blasphemy to suggest education is the responsibility and opportunity of the family.
According to Dr. Charles Glenn of Boston University, the goal of public educators has been, from the beginning, to “shape the children of the common people to share their own values” (Glenn, 1988, p. 9). State proselyting, enforced conversion. Among the values to be transformed are those of worldview, god-view, and self-view, (personal identity).
Dr. Peter Berger, professor of Sociology at Rutgers, writes that “the fundamental coerciveness of society lies not in its machineries of social control, but in its power to constitute and impose itself as reality” (Berger, 1967, p. 12). Schools (and media) are ideal for this imposition of the new reality.
Perhaps we should re-examine our “faith.”
This learned veneration of, devotion to, and faith in, the orthodoxy of public schools is testimony to their ability to manipulate our ideology. When only certain learning is valued, it is religion. When only certain learning is tolerated, it is tyranny. Adoption of this secular religion is may lead to The Inquisition of our time.
Marlene Hinton is a wife, mother, grandmother, and defines herself principally through faith, family, and freedom. A teacher for many decades, education, particularly in those three areas, is a focus. She holds degrees in history, Spanish, bilingual education, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.