Friday, August 29, 2008

An Army of One

With all the excitement on the right over the Palin pick today, I almost hate to go back and reference the Democratic National Convention and its closing ceremonies--er, acceptance speech by Barack Obama.

But among the many thoughts I had while skimming through a tape of the event and an online transcript, one lingered that I'd like to address.

Obama himself, and many of the speakers who preceded him on the nights leading up to his speech, used the phrase "an army of teachers..." Here's how Obama put it:
"I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries, and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. "
Now, I know that our public schools aren't all doing well. I know that there are problems with crumbling schools, safety, lack of resources, and so on. I know that some parents have no educational resources other than the public schools and the public education system.

But not all of us are looking for government promises or government handouts when it comes to education. Though Barack Obama doesn't mention the matter at all on his campaign website, some of us choose to homeschool our children. Over a million children are being homeschooled right now, if the statistics are accurate.

And each of us, every homeschooling parent in America, is an army of one.

We don't need regulations or restrictions interfering with our right to teach our children in the manner we see fit, using the materials and methods we select. We demand the right to determine for ourselves, free from governmental oversight, the best way of achieving our educational goals for our families. Some of us may, at times, appreciate the support of local schools, but none of us are willing to trade our freedom to educate our children at home for the strings that are sometimes attached to that support.

We expect that we won't be harassed by government agencies or made to prove by some arbitrary criteria that we are qualified to instruct our own children. We will never accept the imposition of mandatory curricula for our home educational ventures; we will not teach our children things that conflict with our deeply held values in the name of "safety" or "diversity."

I have my doubts about an army of new teachers transforming the public schools; they are, in many ways, fighting a losing cultural battle that stems more from absentee parents than from lack of qualified teachers or a dearth of materials or supplies. So long as the underlying cultural rot spreading forth from the sexual revolution reaches its decaying influence into the classrooms of America there is little hope for a positive metamorphosis; if Johnny can't read, it has more to do with the fact that Johnny's mother is on her fourth boyfriend since her second marriage of which Johnny was the result and that his chaotic and sometimes violent home life leaves little incentive and no environment for scholarly application than it does with the notion that our current teachers are somehow unequal to the task, and that an army of new recruits will whip the old guard into shape.

But my army of one is doing just fine teaching my children what they need in order to follow Christ, live in the world without being "of the world," and preparing them for whatever glorious call our Heavenly Commander issues to them when they're old enough to answer that call. So whatever else Obama means by his "army of teachers" talk, I certainly hope he's not planning to interfere with my little army, or all the little armies educating their own children one lesson at a time. Because it doesn't take an army of teachers to change the world, or even a village of them: it just takes a family.


~~~mary said...

Red -
In his town hall meeting in York, PA, McCain went out of his way to mention homeschooling families as part of our country's educational fabric. In general terms, he said that he wants to improve the eductional advantages open to all children - whether they be educated in public, private, charter or home schools. I imagine he groups parochial in w/private.
He didn't specify what he might have in mind. It was a general forum, not one solely on schooling or the family. Peace. ~~~mary

Jeff Miller said...

"I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries, and give them more support."

Wow I didn't know he was that rich.

La Familia said...

I think it's interesting that he said he was going to "invest" in education. What he means is that he's going to raise taxes and print off more worthless money backed by air to pull this off. He makes a lot of empty promises that tickle the ears, doesn't he?

Adrienne said...

I'll second what everyone here has said.

Great post!