Education and the Church, Education and the Family, Education and the Marketplace, Education and the State, Funding, Home-Based Education

Government-funded education and Fundamentalist Evangelicalism: the dependence must stop

According to North (1982) the concept of neutrality in the market place is a myth.  The myth, extended to education, has created an opportunity for the enemies of Jesus Christ to gain control of the institutions that drive culture.  Sadly, Christian Evangelicalism and Christian Fundamentalism, because of the influence of Pietism, have been on the cutting edge of promoting marketplace neutrality.  North’s answer to the problem, and anticipation of Fundamentalism’s response to the solution is as follows:

What is the proper argument?  Simple: there is no neutrality, and since there is no neutrality, the present legal foundation of government-funded education is a fraud.  Conclusion: close every government-financed school tomorrow.  Refund the taxes to the tax-payers.  Let the taxpayers seek out their own schools for their children, at their expense (or from privately financed scholarships or other donations).  No more fraud.  No more institutions built on the myth of neutrality.  But the fundamentalists instinctively shy away from such a view.  Why?  Because they see where it necessarily leads: to a theocracy in which no public funds can be appropriated for anti-Christian activities, or to anarchy, where there are no public funds to appropriate.  It must lead to God’s civil government or no civil government.  In short, it leads either to Rushdoony or Rothbard.  Most fundamentalists have never heard of either man, but they instinctively recognize where the abandonment of the myth of neutrality could lead them (North, 1982. p. 20).

Quite rightly, non-Christians object to state-raised funds being used for purposes that promote the Christian religion.  This is perfectly consistent with the reality of there being no neutrality in the marketplace.  The religion of the marketplace is Secular Humanism (proclaimed a religion by Humanists themselves*).  This is the pressure that is applied to so-called Christian Schools that receive government funds to be established and sustained.  Humanist tax-payers object to their tax dollars being used to promote a rival religion.  The government-funded Christian schools, if they are not fully controlled by government agendas at the moment, shall be completely controlled in the future.  He who pays the piper calls the tune.  The only way for Christian education to be conducted in a Christian way, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and in accordance with the Word of God, is for Christians to stop receiving government subsidies.  Initially this will be extremely painful.  It will mean shouldering the full responsibility for the education of their children.  Christians will also need to pay the full tithe to the Lord, and churches will need to shoulder their full social welfare responsibilities, which includes helping the righteous poor families fulfill their educational responsibilities.

It was Fundamentalist Evangelicalism that led the charge towards the secularization of Education in Australia.  According to Barcan (1980):

In September 1874 James Greenwood, a Baptist minister who was also a journalist on the Sydney Morning Herald, formed a Public School League whose objective was a ‘national, free, secular and compulsory’ system (Barcan, 1980, p. 139).

The Christian church in Australia is addicted to procuring government funds.  Think of the funds being given to the Salvation Army, Baptist Care, Catholic Care, Frontier Services, Anglicare, etc.  Government money for the Lord’s work.  Try preaching the gospel to the recipients of the welfare distributed through these organizations – challenge the recipients with the crown rights of Jesus Christ the Lord and King – and see what response comes from the funding source: “Shut up, or the funds will dry up.”  In the early days of these organisations, when the money came from the church’s tithes and offerings, listening to the gospel was often a condition for receiving the welfare distribution – in many cases it was failing to obey the gospel which got people into trouble in the first place.

Well done, those Christian families who have fully owned their responsibility to educate their own children, by bringing them home and giving them a home-based education.  Well done to those families who have paid the financial cost of educating from home.  I applaud your efforts.  And may the Triune God reward you abundantly for your faithfulness to Him.

* Dunphy, J. (1983). A Religion for a New Age. The Humanist, Jan-Feb.; Potter, C. F. (1930). Humanism a New Religion. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

References

Barcan, A. (1980). A History of Australian Education. Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Dunphy, J. (1983). A Religion for a New Age. The Humanist, Jan-Feb

North, G. (1982). The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right, Symposium on The Failure of the American Baptist Culture.  U.S.A.: Geneva Divinity School, Christianity and Civilization Vol. 1.  Editors Jordan, J. B. and North, G.

Potter, C. F. (1930). Humanism a New Religion. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

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Education, Education and the Family, Education and the State, Funding, Home-Based Education, State Schools, Teaching

Globalisation, Schools and Home-based Education: the economic pressures

Sean Casham (2014), writing from an unashamedly socialist perspective, discussed the impact of globalisation on education, in his paper: Globalisation and Education.  He argued that globalisation has ensured that schooling is finance-driven rather than education-driven.  Measurable outcomes, such as high exam scores, become the educational objective of schooling to attract parents to enroll their children and to secure government funding.  These globally originated economic pressures, from such sources as The World Bank (Casham, 2014, p. 2), create insecurity of employment for school staff and ensure that there is a need for particular teachers to prove their ongoing right to be employed.  In this context, data collection becomes connected to professional competence, rather than actual teaching ability and learning outcomes in the lives of the children; value is given to things that can be measured and produced, rather than to the elements of a true education.  Casham writes: “By focusing on the knowable and instantly quantifiable, we may diminish the more abstract qualities of being human, such as kindness and wisdom” (p. 2).

Casham points out that Waters (2011) wrote: “In Australia, 25% of our young people (aged 15-19 years) have a mental disorder and 1 in 3 young people experience moderate to high levels of psychological distress” (Waters, 2011, p. 75).  This figure is an increase on the number of mentally disturbed young people reported in the earlier Sawyer, et al. (2000) Mental Health of Young People in Australia, report.  In the Sawyer report it was recorded that “Fourteen percent of children and adolescents in Australia have mental health problems” (p. xi).  However, it is interesting to note that Sawyer, et al. claimed that there was “a higher prevalence of child and adolescent mental health problems among those living in low-income, step/blended and sole-parent families” (Sawyer, et al., 2000, p. xi).  The Sawyer report claimed to be accurate because “the prevalence of mental health problems identified in (the) survey (was) very similar to the prevalence identified in previous Australian and overseas surveys” (p. xi).

Casham suggests that  these globalisation pressures may have a negative influence on young people.  Making educational processes finance-driven rather than education-driven may be limiting our human capabilities, and “limiting our human capabilities could paradoxically prove harmful to our mental health and the economy” (Casham, 2014, p. 2).  Maseman (2007) pointed out that the increasing trend in measuring school effectiveness “rests on productivity-oriented criteria, and analysis that is used on every level of education from early elementary school up to the tertiary level” (Maseman, 2007, p. 101).  This has led to “the increasing homogenization of the culture of education on a worldwide scale, with the accompanying assumption by educators that there is only one valid epistemology” (Maseman, 2007, p. 110).  Casham summarises this phenomenon by suggesting that “financial objectives can … be at the expense of a truly coherent focus on school improvement” (Casham, 2014, p. 6).

It is my argument that schools cannot be improved, whilst they are the recipients of Government funding.  It is the pressure of Government accountability measures that is apparently skewing pedagogical approaches.  Teachers who are anxious about their job security will not be primarily concerned about the educational outcomes of their charges, rather they will be driven by considerations that revolve around assessment imperatives.  Testing does not deliver an education.  Tests test whether the students have memorised the data that is deemed important to pass the test.  An education results in a lifestyle change.  Testing involves cramming as late as possible before the test date, then promptly forgetting as much as possible after the test.

Home-based education does have its financial pressures.  Home-based education families mostly choose to live a leaner lifestyle than they could if both parents were working and the children were sent to school.  However, when there is a resolve to live contentedly within the family’s single-income means, there are no pressures for financial accountability in relation to the education of the children.  Time can be dedicated to education, and if there is no state-mandated registration, then the testing regime can be done away with all together.  The proof of educational success is not in the results of tests; the proof is in the adjustments to lifestyle that the children make as a result of their educational development.

Casham’s essay is helpful in understanding some of the pressures upon schools and their teaching staff.  Those pressures may also be contributing to the poor mental health of many of the children attending the schools.  Add the pressures of globalisation to the factors of bullying, academic struggle and the corresponding shame that many children experience, and it is no wonder that a large number (between 14% and 25%) of children exhibit mental health problems.  However, Casham holds out hope for schools, and this is where I depart from his analysis.  The hope will be found in strengthening families, and then mandating families to deliver an education from the base of their own home sweet home.

References

Casham, S. (2014). Globalisation and Education. Unpublished Masters level assignment.

Maseman, V.L. (2007). Culture and Education. In: Arnove, R.F. and Torrens, C.A. (eds). Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local, 3rd Edition. pp. 101-116.

Sawyer, M.G., Arney, F.M., Baghurst, P.A., Clark, J.J., Graetz, B.W., Kosky, R.J., Nurcombe, B., Patton, G.C., Prior, M.R., Raphael, B., Rey, J., Waites, L.C. and Zubrick, S.R. (2000). Mental Health of Young People in Australia. Child and adolescent component of the National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being.  Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care.

Waters, L. (2011) A review of school-based positive psychology interventions. The Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist. 28(2), pp. 75-90. DOI 10.1375/aedp.28.2.75

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Education and the Church, Education and the Family, Education and the State, Funding

When it all boils down to the essence of the matter, it is a question of: “Who owns the kids?”

The concluding remark in the e-brief to the New South Wales parliament on the question of home education is that “much of the division of opinion (about home education) centres around whether the greatest right and responsibility for a child’s education rests with the state or with parents” (Drabsch, 2013, p. 13).  This is the question that must be revisited and satisfactorily answered.  Drabsch admits that it “was the introduction of compulsory education that saw responsibility for the education of children generally shift from parents to the state” (p. 2).

In my PhD Dissertation I wrote:

By the mid 1800s, “… in country districts the denominational system was unsuitable – too many small rival denominational schools were being established” (Barcan, 1980, p. 78). By the late 1800s, across all the colonies, Free, Secular and Compulsory education campaigns were launched. This resulted in the Free, Secular and Compulsory education Acts variously introduced across all of the colonies.

In September 1874 James Greenwood, a Baptist minister who was also a journalist on the Sydney Morning Herald, formed a Public School League whose objective was a ‘national, free, secular and compulsory’ system” (Barcan, 1980, p. 139).

Victoria, in 1872, “was the first colony not merely in Australia but also in the British Empire, to provide in combination, free, compulsory and secular education” (Barcan, 1980, p. 176). Queensland began the process in 1870 but did not complete it until 1900. South Australia set in place legislation in 1892, Western Australia in 1901, New South Wales in 1906 and Tasmania in 1908 (Barcan, 1980, p. 151). “State control of the purse ensured centralized control” of all aspects of education in the new states of Australia after federation (Barcan, 1980, p. 177). (Box, 2014, p. 106).

It is rather ironic that the the push for transferring responsibility of children from their parents to the state was lead by members of the Baptist Church in Australia.  This is expected of the Communists, because the tenth objective of Karl Marx, in his program to introduce international communism was:

“10. Free education for all children in public schools. … ” (Marx and Engels, 2010 [1848], p. 27).

However, the Biblical position is that children belong to the Triune God, and God has entrusted the responsibility for the care and nurturance of children to the parents of those children as a trust.

According to Rushdoony (1983) the issue that resulted in Christians being fed to lions and variously tortured by the Roman state was that the early Christians exalted Jesus Christ as Lord over the state (as represented in the person of Caesar).  He wrote:

Peter’s message to the elders and scribes, recorded in Acts 4:12, best sums up the conflict we are involved in today: Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

It is important for us to understand the context of this verse.  With the statement, Peter effectually issued a spiritual declaration of war against the Roman Empire.  When Augustus Caesar took the helm in Rome and had consolidated his power, a great celebration was held throughout the Roman Empire.  It was called the “Advent” celebration — a very significant term, and a very religious one.  It was the Advent celebration because Augustus Caesar had come, in all the fullness of his power.  The heralds — again an interesting word — were sent to the far corners of the Roman Empire with a great Advent proclamation: “There is none other name under heaven whereby men may be saved than the name of Augustus Caesar!”  It was the proclamation of Caesar, of the state, as man’s savior.

We can understand, then, why conflict between Christ and the Caesars was inevitable, why the church went through all the troubles it did, year in and year out, and why men were martyred for the faith.  It was because of this question: “Who is the Lord, or sovereign?  Who is the savior?” (Rushdoony, 1983, pp. 7-8).

Sovereignty and Providence, as universal realities, do not disappear with their denial in theology.  If Sovereignty and Providence are no longer acknowledged in the Triune Creator God, as revealed in the Bible, the principles are then taken up by the state.   This is what happened in the late 1800s.  Compromised theology in the pulpits of Australian churches transferred absolute sovereignty from the God of the Bible to the civil state, and with that transferal went the ownership of the children.

This question of prior responsibility for the children will not be settled in the favour of parents until the church once again thunders from its pulpits the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God, and once again God’s people think His thoughts after Him — having the mind of Christ.

References

Barcan, A. (1980). A History of Australian Education. Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Box, L A. (2014). A Proposal to Deschool, then Unschool Australian Biblical Christian Education. Unpublished dissertation submitted for fulfilment of Doctor of Philosophy, in the School of Applied Theology, New Geneva Theological Seminary, Virginia, U.S.A.

Drabsch, T. (2013). Home Education in NSW. Sydney: N.S. W. Parliamentary Research Service. e-brief 15. Downloaded 25/09/2014, from: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/HomeEducationinNSW/$File/Home%20schooling%20GG%203.pdf

Marx, K. and Engels, F. (2010 [1848]). Manifesto of the Communist Party. Moore, S. (1888) [Translator into English]. Marxist Internet Archive.

Rushdoony, R. J. (1983). The “Atheism” of the Early Church. Vallecito, California: Ross House Books.

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Certification, deschooling, Education, Funding, Ivan Illich, Schooling

Reflections on Illich 19: The radical heart of Ivan Illich’s proposal: a deschooled but educating society

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 76  “A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.  Such a system would require the application of constitutional guarantees to education.  Learners should not be forced to submit to an obligatory curriculum, or to discrimination based on whether they possess a certificate or a diploma.  Nor should the public be forced to support, through a regressive taxation, a huge professional apparatus of educators and buildings which in fact restricts the public’s chances for learning to the services the profession is willing to put on the market.  It should use modern technology to make free speech, free assembly, and a free press truly universal and, therefore, fully educational.”

Of all the quotes from Ivan Illich’s book discussed thus far, this is the most important.  He is proposing a radically deregulated education system.  A schooled society will struggle with this proposal.  It is inconceivable that education can take place without centralized control, and lots and lots of public money being thrown at the bureaucracy.  In fact, as it is more and more evident that publicly-funded, centrally-controlled education does not work, there will be more and more calls for greater controls and vastly increased amounts of money to be chucked down the black hole of the failed secular, free and compulsory schooling experiment.

What Illich is proposing is that there be locally and privately owned educational portals, unfettered by government and other institutional interference through Constitutional guarantee.  These portals are to become educational markets, places of exchange where those who have expertise, and a passion to pass that expertise on to others, can meet up with those who have a passion to learn the knowledge and skills that are being offered.  These portals will assist with due diligence in checking the backgrounds of those presenting themselves as education providers, however, at the end of the day the exchange of knowledge, skills and experience will be a free-market contract, without compulsion and requirement for government approved certification or qualification.  Such markets will not necessarily provide enough remuneration for educators to survive without also having a real ‘job’.  It will require teachers to be grounded in reality, as they deal with the workplace as well as engage in educating others.  Very good teachers will be well patronized, but poor teachers will either have to improve their teaching skills, or go back to their day job.

As I said, a schooled society will find this a very difficult concept to think through.  However, until we take seriously Illich’s proposal, we will continue to subject children to the twelve year sentence*, and waste vast amounts of public funds, that could be spent elsewhere, on a failed educational concept.

* Rickenbacker, W. F. [Ed.]. (1974). The Twelve Year Sentence: Radical Views of Compulsory Schooling. New York, NY: Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

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Funding, Ivan Illich, Schooling, Schools, State Schools

Reflections on Illich 13: The messianic character of mainstream Western schooling

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

”The most important role of schools is to create jobs for accredited teachers, no matter what their pupils learn from them” (p. 31).   “The school teacher is a ‘secular priest’” (p. 32).

In his book, The Messianic Character of American Education: Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Education, Rousas J. Rushdoony (1963) traced the educational development in the West that established schools as the new church in society, and identified ignorance (of political correctness) as being the new sin that children must be saved from.  He strongly argued that the priests and priestesses of the new church are the teachers that indoctrinate in these schools.  Illich summarised this idea by saying that,”(t)he school teacher is a ‘secular priest'”.

On the other hand, schools are structured to meet the educational needs of one kind of child, and that is the child with the orientation to aural/oral/visual learning.  This excludes a lot of boys (and some girls) who are tactile/kinaesthetic learners.  It is the aural/oral/visual learners who make the best teachers, and the tactile/kinaesthetic learners are not catered for adequately, if at all, in the schooling process.  Therefore, the children who get the most out of schools and schooling are those who are destined to become the teachers in the schools.  Hence Ilich’s comment that “(t)he most important role of schools is to create jobs for accredited teachers, no matter what their pupils learn from them”. 

Schooling is a huge industry that consumes inordinate amounts of public money.  The evidence strongly suggests that the more public money directed towards schooling, the worse the outcomes from schools are.  Hattie (2011) wrote:

Funding in the Australian school education sector increased by 41% between 1995 and 2006 ([EOCD], 2007) but student performance stagnated in mathematics and significantly declined in reading (Thompson, 2008).  In Australia, Jensen, Reichl and Kemp (2011) estimated that per student expenditure increased by over 17 per cent during the studied decade, while student performance declined by 2.5 per cent, equivalent to about one-third of a year of schooling.  They noted substantial variation between states, with the decline in performance in the ACT being over 50 per cent of the national average and the rise in expenditure being double the national average.  They identified the largest increase in expenditure as being due to reduced student-teacher ratios, driven by class size reductions–with there not being an increase in teacher salaries over the identified period (p. 5).

Government certification processes and Union protection of teachers, has ensured that very few teachers, once in the classroom, can be removed.  Incompetence in performance is covered by the smoke-screen of clamoring for more and more government money to be spent on the schooling juggernaut.  Decline in educational outcomes is blamed on government economic rationalism.

Schools are not the temples of secular salvation.  Education cannot save us.  There is only one name given among men whereby which we must be saved, and that is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Mums and dads, lead your children to the only wise God our Saviour.  He, and He alone, is the only hope of salvation in this life and in the life to come.

 

Hattie, J. (2011). Leaders Exert More Power When They Control the Topics of Educational Debates (Vol. 59). Adelaide, South Australia: ACEL.

Rushdoony, R. J. (1963). The Messianic Character of American Education: Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Education. Nutley, New Jersey: The Craig Press.

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deschooling, Funding, Ivan Illich, Schools

Reflections on Illich 06: The fuzzy state funding of schools vs self-funding of unschooling

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 17  “… discrimination in favour of schools which dominates … discussion on refinancing education could discredit one of the most critically needed principles for educational reform: the return of initiative and accountability for learning to the learner or his most immediate tutor.”

I served as an Educational Leader in a school, and was instructed by my superior to round up records of attendance, because in Australia schools are paid government money according to attendance statistics.  The attendance figures generated on one day in the year, determined the level of funding that was received for the following year.  If the period from which the snapshot was taken reflected poorly for some reason, even if it wasn’t a true reflection of attendance at other times in the year, then funding was reduced.  So, I was required to round up, when checking attendance figures, so that the best possible attendance picture could be presented.

It happens in many schools, and particularly schools with transitory populations.

On the other hand, unschooling does not cost the public anything; it is self-funded education, and you don’t have to round up attendance figures to ensure that an education can take place.  When learning decisions are made at the level of student and immediate tutor, they can be made realistically, and without having to fudge the books.

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Funding

Government involvement in education in Australia

In my dissertation I argue strongly that education is part of the God-defined jurisdiction of the family, the church and the marketplace, but the state has no God-given or God-defined mandate to be involved in education (except maybe military academies, because defense is part of the state’s jurisdiction).

In Australia, because the early colonists were mostly state-dependent prisoners, there were insufficient tithe-paying members of the church to generate the funds for the church to get on with the business that God had called her to be engaged in (which included the business of training fathers to teach their children).  Public funds were distributed to the church from the beginning (particularly for education), so that there has arisen a mindset of dependence upon the state in the church — Anglicare, Baptistcare, Salvation Army, Frontier Services, etc., all receive government funding to enable their organizations to go about the business that God has called the church to be involved in.  Try preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as part of these state-funded services, and you will see how little these church organizations really are ministries of the church.  They are state functionaries in practice, church ministries in name only.

When Christians have no concern about government involvement in welfare, infact, when many Christians are on the cutting edge of advocacy for increased government involvement in the church’s affairs, there is no pang of conscience about government involvement in education.  How many Christian schools receive government funding?  It has come to the point that Christians in every state and territory, in Australia, (except for South Australia), are not permitted to set up their own education facilities without them being registered by a government agency.  The costs of setting up static, purpose-built schools is beyond the financial reach of most Christian parents, so state-funding is called upon to subsidize.  He who pays the piper calls the tune.

The Safe Schools* initiative being rolled out in Victoria, and being planned to be rolled out to all schools across Australia that receive government funding, is a demonstration of how much political correctness is attached to accountability for the use of public funds in education.

The Homeschool Regulations in New South Wales are an illustration of how boldly intrusive governments in Australia have become, demanding that home-based education look like schools, in the home**.  This is one reason why we need to help home-based educators make a shift from using the term home school, when they are unschooling.  Home schools can be registered.  An unschooling life style (i.e. living as if schools do not exist) is outside the state definition.

We have a long way to go in helping the church in Australia to take on the mind of Christ in the realm of education.  But we must begin the journey, and we must commence the task of trialling different things until we get something that works.  If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always got.

* https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/unease-over-safe-schools-coalition-let-boys-be-boys-and-girls-be-girls

** http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/parents/pdf_doc/home-edu-info-pack-13.pdf

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