"What we got here…is failure to communicate," was the statement by Captain, Road Prison 36, in the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke.
The Captain had just downed Luke (Paul Newman) who was tumbled over into a ditch.
The Cap’s attention-getting instrument was a flexible billy-club, addressed to the side of Luke’s head, and his words were in explanation for the action.
That Cool Hand Luke scene came to mind in pondering what in the blue blazes went wrong with the world, especially in America, since my 1940’s and 50’s growing-up days here in Texas.
An initial thought was that what we got here is a failure to educate.
Hey, this is not to irritate teachers and principals, not even superintendents and school boards…certainly not parents; it is simply to state the facts as seen by many who’ve studied the dilemma in our education system.
For instance, the facts from a 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education expose reporting on international studies, using 19 tests of achievement, in which "American students were never first or second and, in comparison with other industrialized nations, were last seven times."
A number of educational analysts were cited in the expose, including the nationally prominent science educator of 50 years, Paul Hurd, who concluded, "We are raising a new generation of Americans that is scientifically and technologically illiterate."
Even more troubling from the report was a note sounded by Paul Copperman, author of The Literary Hoax, "Each generation of Americans has outstripped its parents in education, in literacy, and in economic attainment.
"(But) For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of one generation will not surpass, will not equal, will not even approach those of their parents."
The report also called attention to a sizeable decline in textbook expenditures and publishers that were dumbing down the textbooks "to ever-lower reading levels in response to perceived market demands."
Teacher’s salaries were also cited in the report which, at the time averaged $17,000 a year (nine months).
The summer and part-time supplemental income employment by some teachers was intimated to be generally required, stirring up popular notions that we would get better teachers if we simply paid them more.
Never mind the resulting across-the-board, not for merit in teaching pay raises, plus difficulties in firing the incompetent, ultimately meant that "higher pay caused the worst teachers to stay longer, because their other job prospects were poor.
"Of course, this reduced openings for better new teachers who -with good skills- found other work." [From a report by economists Michael Podgursky ( U. of Missouri ) and Dale Ballou ( U. of Mass )].
These, along with countless other education system negatives have changed the face of America, but the capstone crippler of all would have to be the systematic eradication of prayer and the Bible in our children’s public education.
Horace Mann, a state senator in 1837, sponsored a landmark education bill that became law in his Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Prior to its enactment, schools were decentralized and locally funded there and all over America.
The deeply held values of parents and their ministers could easily be taught in those schools. Horace Mann’s bill consolidated state control over the schools and Massachusetts had embarked upon its brave new experiment.
Compulsory education was off and running. (Fr. Robert W. Moore) Sadly, the South and remainder of the country eventually fell in line with Massachusetts, New England and Horace Mann’s dream later on, educationally speaking.
Mann’s political acumen was critical in rearing up a secular, public school system in New England . His fragile coalition in 1837 was composed of Unitarians, Socialists and conservative Evangelicals.
Unitarians supported state-controlled schools to foster human perfectibility and eliminate human wickedness.
The Socialists saw the public school as their tool to reform American character and establish a socialist society.
But religious conservatives were conned into believing public education was a viable means of maintaining Protestant supremacy over a huge influx of Catholic immigrants.
But, Catholics established their own parochial schools, leaving Protestants mired in secular schools.
And so, here we are…mired in secular schools. During the 1940’s and 50’s, public school teachers, administrators, boards and parents felt no strong compulsion to desist from religious teachings, prayer, Bible studies, etc.
And, so, most of us got strong doses of quasi religious training during those years.
It did us…and society…a lot of good.
No, we weren’t turned into Baptist zombies, or the like, but we were taught from whence we came, that we were worth something, were taught critical thinking, and by application of the tools given us, could attain great goals.
But government has grown, as it always does, holding us to secular rules (only the god of Secularism is allowed), especially in the schooling of our children.
As Dickens’s character would have said, "Humbug!"
R.L. Dabney said, "The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth.
"It is the one business for which the earth exists.
"To it, all politics, all war, all literature, all money-making, ought to be subordinated; and every parent especially ought to feel, every hour of the day, that…this is the end for which he is kept alive by God – this is his task on earth."
May God bless.
Thanks to Wilson L. Thompson for compiling many of the above facts.