The answer lies in the concluding paragraphs of this column by Joel Belz on recent proposals to extend federal education oversight into preschool and daycare programs from the current issue of World Magazine (subscription required):

I’ve said before in this space, and it needs to be said during just about every presidential campaign, that there is something much more potentially terrifying than to watch the government continue to fail in its efforts to prop up education in this country. Much worse than such a continuing failure would be to watch the government succeed.

Shaping the minds and the value system of our children is simply not the proper function of government—almost certainly not at any level, but especially at the distant federal level. (Emphasis added)

If your child’s school chooses never to mention what Jesus calls “the first and great commandment of life”—to love the Lord our God with all we have—all the rest of that school’s education will be as hollow as it is shallow. And even worse will be the effort, so often attempted (and sincerely so), to address some expression of the second great commandment—”loving your neighbor as yourself”—without having dealt seriously with the first one. The first provides both skeleton and heart for the second; the second is impossible without the first.

Society needs to understand, and so do evangelical Christians, that the real problem with state education today (and even with much private education) has nothing to do with teachers’ salaries or funding levels or phonics or curriculum or how many months of the year or hours of the day children go to school. All those things have their significance and are worth discussing at the right time.

But the right time for that is always after settling what education is really about. Until educators get that straight, they’re not going to get anywhere with “education reform.” And they have no business talking about stretching the federal government’s reach into preschool and daycare—where the best they will ever do is to compound their present clumsiness.

Well said.

Filed under: EducationTom

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