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SPOTLIGHT
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Today's challenges in public education could be helped by prayer

Published on -8/21/2013, 11:42 AM

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1"After being interviewed by the school administration, the eager teaching prospect said, 'Let me see if I've got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning. And I'm supposed to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, modify their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse and even censor their T-shirt messages and dress habits. You want me to wage a war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for weapons of mass destruction, and raise their self-esteem.

"You want me to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship, fair play, how to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook, and how to apply for a job.

"I am to check their heads for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of anti-social behavior, offer advice, write letters of recommendation for student employment and scholarships, encourage respect for the cultural diversity of others and, oh, make sure that I give the girls in my class 50-percent of my attention.

"My contract requires me to work on my own time after school, evenings and weekdays grading papers. Also, I must spend my summer vacation at my own expense working toward advance certification and a Master's degree. And on my own time, you want me to attend committee and faculty meetings, PTA meetings and participate in staff development training. I am to be a paragon of virtue, larger than life, such that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority. And I am to pledge allegiance to family values and this current administration.

"You want me to incorporate technology into the learning experience, monitor websites and relate personally with each student. That includes deciding who might be potentially dangerous and/or liable to commit a crime in school. I am to make sure all students pass the mandatory state exams, even those who don't come to school regularly or complete any of their assignments.

"Plus, I am to make sure that all of the students with handicaps get an equal education regardless of the extent of their mental or physical handicap. And I am to communicate regularly with the parents by letter, telephone, newsletter and report card. All of this I am to do with just a piece of chalk, a computer, a few books, a bulletin board and a big smile. And on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps. You want me to do all of this and yet you expect me not to pray?' "

As we watch the news on TV, read the news media or listen to the radio, you are likely to hear of such things as described above. I hope that very few, if any, of these things occur in our schools, but any of them could, I suppose.

Why do these things occur? Let me suggest a very good reason. In 1947, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black declared a wall must exist between the church and the state, and this ruling has had lasting effects and affected our society in many ways. Then in 1962, the Supreme Court declared "unconstitutional a strictly voluntary, nondenominational prayer" in our schools.

And then in 1963, the Supreme Court justices ruled it was "unconstitutional for a state to have portions of the Bible recited in the schools, having determined that this was an establishment of religion." Then in 1980, the Supreme Court found it is "unconstitutional for the 10 Commandments to hang on the walls of a classroom, since the students might be led to read them, meditate upon them, respect them or obey them."

John Chalfant, in his fine book, "America, a Call to Greatness," summarizes the whole situation very well when he says, "When the Supreme Court outlawed God in the public schools, the foundation of character and of American heritage went with Him." I have copies of five charts or graphs, which were made by reliable sources in the mid-'90s, that show what happened after the year 1962, when the Supreme Court began to govern the schools. Scores of the Scholastic Aptitude Test took a nosedive. Violent crimes went strongly the other way, rising rapidly. Sexually transmitted diseases climbed very rapidly. Pregnancies among unwed girls younger than 15 climbed rapidly also. One more of the graphs shows a rapid climb in the number of divorces. Each of the graphs starts before 1962 by a few years and then, starts immediately in 1962 with either a rapid fall or rise as explained above.

When "Postmodernism" arose in the late 21st century with the feeling that "truth does not exist objectively; it is a product of a person's culture," we also can see a reason for unrest.

I hope our schools do not suffer these problems. But, I do hope we can understand some of the causes and attempt to head them off.

A final thought: "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier."

Arris Johnson is a contributor to The Hays Daily News Generations advisory group.

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