We have moved!
Please note our new address and phone number!
6044 Pine Creek St. N.W.
North Canton, OH 44720-5526
We have moved about 60 miles south of Lakewood which is closer to family, where Earl is working and where our eldest son and Linda attend college. We are just south of the Akron-Canton Regional Airport.
This short paper describes some thoughts on OBE, the political process, and how words are twisted.
The purpose of this section is to help keep our thinking clear so that we wage the correct fight. In the battle with OBE and related trends in education, the educational concept of OBE is the most fundamental difficulty because it is inherently inter-twined with the concept of centralized governmental (and thus political) control of the content and style of education. Thus, while OBE supporters may have some legitimate goals, the delivery method is inherently opposed to political and religious freedom.
Mastery vs. Time in Chair
The concept that mastery of subject matter or the development of skills as the goal of education is correct and valid. Granting diplomas and degrees based upon "time in chair" is surely one of the great travesties of American education. The concept of granting certification of any kind based only upon "time in chair" whether it be years in school, or hours in a training center, is contrary to the stated objective of education which is knowledge, understanding or skill.
Thus, OBE has the right concept in this area. The problem is not with the concept of mastery, but with the content to be mastered! FHC has a booklet entitled, God's Outcome Based Education which demonstrates a Biblical interpretation of all of the original 25 outcomes of OBE. Of course, those proposing OBE in the public arena do not subscribe to our interpretation, but the booklet demonstrates that the concept of goals, or outcomes is correct. The issue is the specific goals!
Again, the OBE emphasis on the importance of attitude is correct and actually Biblical. Consider Proverbs 9 :9 and 12:1--
10. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
2. Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.
The problem with OBE is not the recognition that attitude is important, but the choice of desirable attitudes . When we deal with attitudes, we quickly slam into the clear fact that education is inherently religious
Sometimes Christians attempt to fall back on tradition, when their correct intent is to change the religion being taught in schools. Rather than deny our own religious basis, for indeed instruction in attitudes is inherently religious, we do better to fight the battle forthrightly by comparing the religious instruction of OBE supporters with that of Christians.
Carnegie Units - Are They Sacred
Christians have attempted to re-establish the use of Carnegie Units as a way to fight against OBE. The positive side of this strategy is that it provides a way to clear the air of the double speak of OBE and use terminology which, due to its long tradition, is readily understood. The problem with too much emphasis on Carnegie Units is twofold:
Certificates of Mastery
OBE supporters are attempting to push the concept of "certificates of mastery." They sell this to business leaders (e.g. The recent summit sponsored by IBM and attended by 47 governors) as a way to assure business people that students are truly prepared for the workplace. In a sense, this is a positive development and a willingness of schools to make themselves accountable.
The threat is not the certificates of mastery but the attempt to make them a legal requirement, thus generating an illegal monopoly for the granters of the certificates (government schools). The better strategy to deal with certificates of mastery is to demand that they prove themselves in the marketplace on their own strength. That is, instead of imposing legal requirements on employers, allow the marketplace to determine whether the certificates do, in fact, mean that students are prepared for the workplace. In a nation with religious, economic, and political freedom, employers must be free to develop their own criteria for selecting successful workers, and potential workers must be free to market their skills as they choose.
Thus, the government schools can market certificates of mastery, but so can home schoolers market their experience that home schooled students are better educated, have better work attitudes, and are generally more successful.
In summary, the threat is not certificates of mastery, which are an attempt to replace the nearly meaningless high school diploma, but the attempt to impose central government control over who can hire whom.
The Education Summit
Earl found it interesting to compare the press reports on the March National Education Summit with some of the actual text of the policy statement released. Of course, the summit was inherently flawed because it is unlikely that any of the attendees has any concept of what goes on in a modern classroom! Governors and business executives alike somehow believe that setting "standards" will miraculously correct problems caused by deep moral and religious problems. The text contains lofty words suitable for governors and executives. The greatest irony is that both governors and business executives turn to the very professional educators who have created the current failed system for solutions! Earl personally had some correspondence with a man in IBM who is working on education and who reports to IBM's CEO Gerstner. Earl challenged statements he made which proposed that a longer school year would solve most of our problems with low achievement by proposing that what was taught and how it was taught was more important than the length of the school year. Earl also mentioned home schooling and other creative approaches. The man's terse response made it clear that he is a traditional "educator" with no interest in new ideas, but only more money for government schools.
Nonetheless, we observed that press reports never noted the word "local" when referring to standards. The actual text of a summary of the policy statement issued has the word "local" or "locally" several times. Of course, I doubt that the participants truly believe in "local" standards, but this disparity is of interest because it shows us the dangers of changes to language which amount to sophisticated lying. Below, we have printed some key paragraphs (about half the total). FHC can provide the full text of the summary if you send us a self addressed stamped envelope.
Summary of Policy Statement
POLICY STATEMENT UNITES GOVERNORS, BUSINESS LEADERS
April 10, 1996
A landmark policy statement issued during the National Education Summit unified governors and business leaders in support of locally based academic standards to speed improvement and accountability in the nation's K-12 education system.
The joint policy statement includes timelines for implementation of rigorous standards, measurements, and steps to ensure school systems are held accountable.
"By committing ourselves to local standards , we're saying that we're going to change the current situation that measures how much time students spend in their seats, but not how much goes into their heads," said Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, chairman of the National Governors' Association (NGA) and the Education Commission of the States.
The two-day summit -- attended by more than 40 governors and 49 leaders of major corporations -- was cosponsored by NGA, IBM, and the Education Commission of the States. Summit participants called for community-based standards in every state and committed to a two-year timeline for implementation.
Additionally, the executives from major corporate employers declared that within one year they will base hiring decisions on the quality of an applicant's school records.
During an address to the Summit, President Clinton congratulated participants for their efforts to build what he called "a revolution of rising expectations." He said he agreed that standard-setting is a local, rather than a federal one.
"We didn't come here to set the standards," Thompson said. "The process of setting standards will only work if it involves parents, educators, school boards, employers, and other members of the community."
We have often said that the so-called "good old days" were not all good or else they would not have led to the bad new days morally and spiritually. Our challenge is to read history asking the Holy Spriit for discernment to find the good and be strengthened in the testimony of saints who have gone before us while learning from the mistakes of others.
Earl recently discovered an interesting commentary on American culture in 1860! This comment comes from a Japanese delegation which visited the USA after Commodore Perry's Japanese missions. The Japanese delegation was received well and honored with true American flamboyancy. The comments are reported in the book, Japan's Imperial Conspiracy (p. 237), by David Bergamini, 1971.
The spartan samurai were not impressed by the noise of their welcome. "There is no end to speakers," wrote one of them, "some speaking quietly, some wildly brandishing their arms." On their visit to Congress they were surprised to find a senator "making a speech at the top of his voice." They were more impressed by iced drinks and by bare-shouldered "geisha," who "hopped about" at public dances with their own husbands. But what most struck them were the massive preparations under way for the Civil War and the railroads snaking out across the huge continent toward California. In their reports later they urged emulation of Western technology but not the Western culture or religion . They found the culture "too showy" and the religion full of "good principles which are not well observed in the morality of the people." (emphasis added)
These comments are a confirmation of the principle that we witness to the Gospel by deed, not just by word. It also demonstrates that even then, American politics lacked men who could use their position as a God-given place from which to witness for Christ.
In an interesting side note, the leader (associated with the shogun) who sent the delegation, was later assassinated as part of an imperial plot to eliminate such radical liberalism. His head was displayed with a placard saying, "This is the head of a traitor who violated the most sacred law of Japan - that which forbids the admission of foreigners into our country."
A recent news story provides a good illustration of how to teach current events as part of history and Christian life application. The popular press has bombarded us with the story of a rash of "black church burnings." Earl had considered the thoughtful question of a work mate who asked, "How many churches are normally burned?" An answer came when The Wall St. Journal published an article on July 8 examining the data and reporting of it. The author traced most information to press releases from a single group called the CDR (Center for Democratic Renewal - formally the National Anti-Klan Network). To establish the feelings of this group, we consider a statement by its chairman, Rev. Ct.T. Vivian, "There's only a slippery slope between conservative religious persons and those that are really doing the burning." Most importantly, the author investigated the statistics and discovered distortions, selective reporting, and deception. Thus the title of the article was, "A Church Arson Epidemic? It's Smoke and Mirrors." He concluded that in an ultimate irony, the claims of an epidemic of black church burnings and the media attention may actually be sparking "copy cat" crimes as well as fomenting racial division and causing fear among Sourthern black church goers.
What can we learn from this? We recommend the following approach to teaching current events:
FHC has available a "College Help Packet" to provide information for Christian home schooling families who are considering college education. It contains a discussion of "why college", information about applying for admission and scholarships, and detailed suggestions for preparing a transcript. Also included is a discussion of obtaining credit without spending money. We also include a blank transcript form with instructions for developing a transcript. This "College Help Packet" is available for $1.00 (plus $1.00) shipping plus 5.5% sales tax for Ohio residents from FHC.
The goal of Christian parents is to train children as disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Psalms present some pictures of both the goal of education and the method to achive the goal.
Psalm 78 describes both:
6. ¶ For He established a testimony in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach them to their children,
7. That the generation to come might know , even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
8. That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
9. And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The goals listed include:
The method is the family, fathers to children to their children.
Psalm 102 adds,
19. ¶ This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.
Here the Bible says that God's works are written for a generation to come so that those to be created will praise the Lord.
Let us compare these thoughts with modern educational thinking. Modern thought emphasizes institutions, not families. The Bible is amazingly devoid of discussion of institutions as places of instruction. There are times of mass instruction such as in the book of Ezra, but these seem to be exceptional times when the Law was lost for generations and all needed to hear at once. We can apply these same principles today - mass methods can be God's way to recover a lost generation, but the pattern for families in the Lord is for each family to teach the next generation.