School has started once again and now comes the pile of forms to be signed. Every year, my child brings home something called the “student, teacher, administrator, parent compact”. This pointless exercise in political correctness has a section where the administrator, the teacher and the student basically pledge to make the school a safe, respectful learning environment. These are not bad objectives, but it is silly to have students, parents, and teachers sign a nonbinding agreement. Here is this asinine waste of paper for your viewing pleasure.
There is a section of this compact where there is a list of things that I, as a parent of a student, pledge to do. I do not disagree with what the compact contains, but I do find it particularly insulting that the school board feels it has to remind me what my duties as a parent are.
Signing this paper is supposedly voluntary, but in the past, my child was denied a locker until he brought back the form. When I pointed out to the teacher that it stated on the form that it was voluntary, she said that she did not have the authority to make an exception and would take it up with the guidance councilor. Apparently the guidance councilor didn’t have the authority to apply what was written on the form either, and it took about two weeks before the principle called me and agreed that my child could have a locker. By then, all the lockers had been assigned.
If the school district is going to require us to sign a paper like this, it should be to explain what the school promises to do for the students and parents, rather than the emphasis being the other way around. Here’s what I would like to see this compact contain:
That the administrators promise to:
• Weigh the input of parents highly when making policy decisions, and choosing curriculum
• Recognize the parent as the final authority in decisions about what is best for a student.
• Understand that the school exists to meet the needs of the families it serves, not the other way around.
• To support teachers in their efforts to educate students by giving them the resources necessary to do the job, and by not burdening them with needless programs and procedures that may seem novel and innovative, but reduce the amount of time the teacher has to actually teach.
That the teachers promise to:
• Communicate regularly with the parents.
• Make themselves available in the classroom to answer questions.
• Suggest helpful resources for struggling students.
• Make sure that all students, who put forth the effort, understand the subject matter before moving on to the next thing.
The parents promise to:
• Communicate regularly with the student’s teachers.
• Pay attention to the educational materials and curriculum provided to the student.
• Be an advocate for their student to insure that the school system meets the individual needs of the student.
• Encourage the student to take advantage of tutoring, and other help offered by the school.
The students promise to:
• Respect the persons and property of other students.
• Respect the authority of the teachers and school officials.
• Ask questions when they don’t understand.
• Be prepared with the proper supplies.
• Discuss disagreements with school rules with their parents, then together approach school officials about it rather than simply breaking the rule in protest.
On Thursday, March 1st, the Florida State legislature passed SB, 98 www.flsenate.gov /Session/Bill/2012/0098/BillText/Filed/PDFwhich gives individual school districts the freedom to allow student led “inspirational messages” during mandatory assemblies and other school sponsored events. The bill was sponsored by a Democrat,
State Senator Gary Siplin, and was overwhelmingly passed with bi-partisan support. A fact that might surprise many conservatives and Evangelicals. The bill now awaits the probable signing from Governor Rick Scott. Other states are taking notice and waiting to see how this law will play out in the practical application of public school policy.
As a Christian and a mother, I should be elated about this. Over the past few decades we have seen the First Amendment being twisted and perverted into an instrument to deny Christians the right to freely practice our beliefs in public. Activities that are actually a positive influence on campus such as the annual See You At The Pole or groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are routinely banned from school property even though these activities are completely voluntary and take place outside of regular class hours. Teachers are forbidden to acknowledge their Christian beliefs on their school website bios and are reprimanded for publicly expressing their beliefs even when they are outside of the school setting. This is wrong and is in opposition to the true intent of the First Amendment.
This bill, however, is a bad idea. The bill’s only strongpoint is that it puts the authority for implementation in the hands of the individual school boards. This is right because the boards are better able to determine the needs and beliefs of their communities better than the state government can. The bill seeks to protect the schools from First Amendment litigation by giving the responsibility for choosing, who delivers the message and its content, to the discretion of the students. School officials and employees are forbidden to interfere in any way with the students’ decisions. There is absolutely no way a school board can define what constitutes an “inspirational message” without violating the rights of one group or another. These messages could be anything from a prayer or devotional to an anarchist rant, or hate group rhetoric. Any student who has an ax to grind or just simply enjoys stirring up trouble will now have a platform. Time and precious school resources would be wasted on the litigation that is sure to ensue if any school board tries to implement rules to curb the chaos.
The school system in Florida has many challenges. Fixing a broken system of accountability is one. Though it is a well-intentioned attempt at restoring morality in the school system, this law will not work. The only way to improve the quality of education in Florida or anywhere else in this country is to remind the schools that their purpose is to serve their students, parents and taxpayer supporters, not the other way around. The only way to accomplish what this bill is trying to do, is to implement school choice.
Today on the Neal Boortz show, he was talking about this test from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. It is scary that the test average for college professors was 55%. And yet, they keep increasing tuition costs. Go figure.Here’s the link. give it a try you will find it interesting.
By the way, in case you’re interested I scored 84.85%.
I have been thinking about the controversy behind the teaching of intelligent design in the public school system. My opinion is that the classroom should be a place where the free exchange of ideas can take place. That cannot happen in an environment of political indoctrination. That being said lets examine some of the reasons for the controversy.
We are told that intelligent design is not taught because it promotes a religious viewpoint. To determine if that is true we first have to define what constitutes a religion. My Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary’s fourth definition of a religion is, ” A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” This same dictionary’s second definition of faith is, ” A belief in something for which there is no proof.” The third definition is, “Something that is believed esp. with strong convictions.”
There is nothing in the Bible, no sermon, no theological study that can prove concretely, without the shadow of a doubt that God does in fact exist. My belief in God is the result of my faith, based on my study of the Bible, my observations of the world around me and the sum of my experiences. That element of faith is what makes my belief a religion.
On the other hand, there is nothing that science can produce, no controlled experiment, no theory, that can prove concretely, without the shadow of a doubt that God in fact does not exist. People choose to believe there is no God based on their study of scientific theories, their observations of the world around them and the sum of their experiences. Without proof of the non-existence of God their believe is also based on faith. This defines Atheism as a religion.
I do not disagree that the theory of intelligent design leaves open a door to the theory of Creationism, but Evolution by its implied indorsement of Atheism also promotes a religious belief. The public education system cannot use the Constitution to allow one belief but not another.
Let’s take a look at the first amendment. It states” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
According to this principle, Public schools cannot compel nor forbid the teachings of evolution or intelligent design. I say let out teachers truly educate our children by giving them a well thought out lesson on both theories, then teach them how to have a civilized debate on the subject and then draw their own conclusions.