THE BLOG
11/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Problem with Education

A government who educates its people serves to sharpen a blade that may ultimately do it in, while the government who under-educates their population seeks to create a docile flock that is easily misled and controlled. They want people smart, but not too smart. Ignorance breeds hate, which we're seeing plenty of at Palin rallies these days. But when we talk about educational reform, it is important to consider things from the government's point of view. In the eyes of John McCain and the Republicans, if they make the public school system as dysfunctional as possible, then they can push vouchers and "choice" so that parents can send their children to private schools on the governments dime. Most often, those are religious (read: Christian) schools and they don't have the accountability issues (or separation of Church and State issue) that the Public School System has. This is a backhanded way of bridging that church-state divide and having government (read: taxpayers) fund religious education. Barack Obama wants to actually reform the public school system so that every child in America can get a world class education becoming of the richest country in the world. By raising our standards of what we expect from our students and preparing them to be globally competitive, we make our best investment in America's future. Obama's concentration on science and math is especially important as we have fallen farther and farther behind the rest of the developing world in both of those categories. But here's the rub: science, more so than math, doesn't always jibe with what religion teaches.

The "War on Science," as Hillary Clinton called it, includes the Creationism/Intelligent Design movement and has cost us dearly in global competitiveness. There is no room for superstition when we are turning out a sub-par working class whose outsourced jobs are being filled by better qualified candidates in India and points elsewhere who understand and adhere to the empirical basis of scientific fact. It is unfortunate for those of blind faith that their beliefs keep butting heads with things like logic, reason and reality. Sarah Palin's views on dinosaurs are a symptom of the endemic irrationality that has gripped our nations discourse during the "Culture Wars." We must firmly grasp empirical truth to lift ourselves from this quagmire of stupidity. This is not meant to be a blanket generalization; there are some people who let their feelings of faith guide their moral behavior but still understand that the world is billions of years old and not the center of the universe. That dinosaur bones weren't hidden all over the earth by a God who just wants to test our faith in him. The idea of a big practical joker in the sky screwing with people's heads by planting false evidence of large reptilian beings is as absurd as imagining that he/she is listening to every individual prayer made by the faithful or intervening in football touchdowns and Alaskan gubernatorial races. And if, like George W. Bush indicated, God has had the ear of the most powerful man on earth and has given him all the advice that has led us down this dark 8 year path, that doesn't exactly give me faith in God's advice, let alone His teachings being used in private schools funded by school vouchers. If God's advice led George W. Bush to his decisions, perhaps we should subpoena God and see what he told our president to do in His name. We'll need some mighty big handcuffs for a deity perp walk...

This is really about who educates our children and ultimately, why. Blind faith must be left at the doorsteps (or trash bins) of our schools and our students must be taught by competent (and well-paid) teachers who understand that we as a nation and people have fallen behind and that our children are our future. To give one example, India is a very spiritual country but Hinduism hasn't stopped their growing economy, their emphasis on education or their ability to anticipate and adapt to coming trends in the world economy. Science isn't the enemy of their religion, but it is the enemy of illogical, unfounded dogmatic belief systems that cling to "facts" that can never be proved. Can American Fundevangelical Christianity ever accept that evolution is real? That the world and universe are billions of years old? That The Bible is not the "word of God" but a heavily edited book written by mortal men who had no concept of physics or science? Whether or not Christianity does or does not accept these things should have no more bearing on our Educational System than whether Aesop's Fables do. Sending our children to religious schools to avoid science is antithetical to giving them the proper tools to compete in the global economy. You can be assured that in the laboratories and factories of India, China, South Korea and Japan, they are no more concerned with being guided by the teachings of Jesus than they are by the phone book. And they are excelling in those areas most crucial to the new economy, while we stagnate and fall ever farther behind.

It is time to rescue our Educational System and give our children a better understanding of the world we live in and their place in it. If our public schools are competitive with other countries at every level, parents will have no need for vouchers to send them elsewhere. Leave the religious teachings to Sunday school and give our children the foundation for a better and brighter future by making our public schools second to none. There is no greater investment we can make in our country than in its people, especially the youngest among us. Let us truly leave no child behind so that America can move ahead!

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